Lissadell House & Gardens, Lissadell, Ballinfull, Co. Sligo

www.lissadell.com

Open dates in 2023: June 3-4, 7-11, 14-18, 21-25, 28-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-10, 10.30am-6pm
Fee: adult €14, child €7

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Lissadell House and Gardens County Sligo Ireland, Photograph created by Peter McCabe, Tourism Ireland, 2015, taken from Ireland’s Content Pool care of Failte Ireland. This south elevation, facing the sea, has a three-bay central bow with a raised parapet and three-bays either side of the full height bow.

We visited Lissadell during Heritage Week 2022. I had been looking forward to seeing it as it has some amazing internal Classical architecture. It is most famous as the birthplace of Constance Markievicz, née Gore-Booth, the first woman senator in Ireland and fighter in the 1916 uprising, and also more recently as the host of a concert of Leonard Cohen. It was only sold out of the Gore-Booth family in 2004.

Lissadell, 2022.
Studio portrait of Countess Constance Markievicz (née Gore-Booth) in uniform with a gun, photograph courtesy of National Library of Ireland Ref. KE 82

It was built in 1830-35 for Robert Gore-Booth (1805-1876), 4th Baronet, to the Greek Revival design of Manchester architect Francis Goodwin (1784-1835). It replaced an earlier house nearer the shore which itself replaced an old castle. It is a nine-bay two-storey over basement house built of Ballisodare limestone. [1]

Lissadell, 2022.
Lissadell, 2022.
Lissadell, 2022.

The entrance front (north) elevation has a three-bay pedimented central projection flanked by three-bay side sections. When one approaches on the path one can see that the lower storey is open to the east and west to form a porte-cochere. The house was described by Maurice Craig as being ‘…distinguished more by its solidity than by its suavity and more by its literary associations than by either.’ I find the crafted stone and the massive squareness of it beautiful.

The east elevation which faces the sea has a five-bay central section between two-bay projections. The five-bay section contains a three-bay central breakfront with tall framing pilasters. Above the upper floor windows is a stepped stone feature that runs around three sides of the house.

Lissadell, 2022.

Other former residents of the house deserve to be as famous as Constance.

Dermot James in his book The Gore-Booths of Lissadell tells us that the Gore-Booths are descended from Paul Gore of Manor Gore, County Donegal. He was MP for Ballyshannon in Donegal, and was created 1st Baronet Gore, of Magherabegg, County Donegal in 1621/22. He married a niece of the 1st Earl of Strafford, Isabella Wickliffe.

Paul Gore of Manor Gore had seven sons, and all married well. His oldest son, Ralph, 2nd Baronet, became the ancestor of the earls of Rosse, who are in Birr Castle [another section 482 property I visited]. Arthur, the second son, became the ancestor of the Earls of Arran, a family that subsequently inherited the very large Saunders Court estate near Ferrycarrig in County Wexford. He was MP for County Mayo and became 1st Baronet Gore, of Newtown Gore, Co. Mayo. A third son, Henry, married the eldest daughter of Robert Blaney of Monaghan and was the ancestor of the earls of Kingston. Two further sons settled in County Kilkenny, giving the family name to Goresbridge, and the seventh son settled in County Mayo and, according to a memorial tablet in Killala Cathedral, married Ellinor St. George of Carrick, County Leitrim, and he died at his residence, Newtown Gore, later named Castle Gore and Deel Castle, near Killala, County Mayo in 1697.

The fourth son, Francis Gore (1612-1712), lived in Ardtarman, County Sligo, which still stands and has been renovated for habitation and self-catering accommodation. [2]

Lissadell, 2022.

The front door is under the tall porte-cochere, which has a curved painted ceiling and massive wooden doors.

Lissadell, 2022.
Lissadell, 2022.

Francis Gore married Anne Parke of Parkes Castle in Leitrim – see my entry on OPW sites in Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo: https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/10/31/office-of-public-works-properties-in-connaught-counties-leitrim-mayo-roscommon-and-sligo/

Dermot James tells us that Francis managed to keep on good terms with both the Cromwellians and Royalists during the Civil War, avoiding an engagement with either cause. After the Restoration of Charles II, he was rewarded with grants of land in Sligo, Mayo and Kilkenny, and in 1661 he was knighted and also became M.P. for Sligo. He settled at Ardtarmon, two miles west of Lissadell. He fought for the crown in Lieutenant-Colonel Coote’s Regiment.

Francis and Anne had a son, Robert (1645-1720). He married Frances Newcomen and they had a son, Nathaniel (1692-1737). He married Letitia (or Lettice) Booth, only daughter and heiress of Humphrey Booth, of Dublin. [3] She must have inherited quite a bit since later generations added her surname “Booth” to their surname. In fact, the prosperous Booth estates in the English midlands were added to the Sligo property.

Robert and Lettice named their son “Booth” (1712-1773). In 1760 Booth Gore was created 1st Baronet Gore of Lissadell, County Sligo.

Booth married Emilia Newcomen, daughter of Brabazon Newcomen, and they had several children. Their first son, also named Booth, who became 2nd Baronet, died unmarried, and his brother Robert Newcomen inherited and added Booth to his surname in 1804, when he succeeded as the 3rd Baronet.

Robert Newcomen Gore-Booth inherited in his 60s, and only then married Hannah Irwin from Streamstown, County Sligo (ninety years later this property became part of the Gore-Booth estate). Their daughter Anne married Robert King, 6th Earl of Kingston, son of the 1st Viscount Lorton.

The eldest son, Robert (1805-1876) became the 4th Baronet, and he built the house at Lissadell which we see now. He was Lord Lieutenant for County Sligo and also MP for Sligo.

The 4th Baronet married Caroline King, daughter of Robert Edward King, 1st Viscount Lorton, whom we came across in King House in County Roscommon. Sadly, she died the following year in 1828. Two years later he married Caroline Susan Goold, daughter of Thomas Goold (or Gould). Her sister Augusta married Edwin Richard Wyndham-Quin, 3rd Earl of Dunraven, of Adare Manor in Limerick.

According to Dermot James, “Henry Coulter described Lissadell before Robert inherited the estate as ‘wild and miserable and poor looking.’ But within a few decades Sir Robert had demonstrated ‘the immense improvement which may be made in the appearance of the country and the quality of the soil by the judicious expenditure of capital.’ Coulter continued, considering the estate to be “one of the most highly cultivated and beautiful in the United Kingdom… If the excellent example set by Sir Robert Booth as a resident country gentleman – living at home and devoting himself to the improvement of his property – were more generally followed by Irish landlords then indeed the cry of distress which is so often raised… would never more be heard, even in the west of Ireland.” [Henry Coulter, The West of Ireland published 1862]. [4]

Robert was in situ at the time of the Great Famine in the 1840s. He did send some tenants to North America, and was later criticised for the evictions, but on the whole he was a generous landlord. He ran a soup kitchen and provided seed for crops. When his first wife Caroline died the Sligo Journal called her “a ministering angel among the people, her charitie was unbounded and her exertions to relieve the wants and sufferings of the distressed excited the admiration of all classes” when “the dark clouds of pestilence and death covered the land.”

Dermot James writes: “If the exterior of Lissadell House is seen by some to be disappointingly plain, Goodwin’s design ensured that the entrance to the interior is all the more unexpected and dramatic. The visitor is met by a spectacularly high entrance hall decorated with Doric and Ionic columns from which there is an impressive staircase in Kilkenny marble with cast iron balustrade leading to the building’s most important feature, the great gallery, lit by sky-lights high above. On Goodwin’s plans, the gallery is marked as the music room, reflecting one of Sir Robert’s tastes, where an organ was installed. In the main, the house then remained largely unaltered for more than a century and a half.

Mark Bence-Jones describes the entrance stair hall in his Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988) as a lofty two storey hall, partly top-lit, with square Doric columns below and Ionic columns above and double staircase of Kilkenny marble.

In his book Irish Big Houses, Terence Reeves-Smyth alerts us to the winged birds in the iron balusters of the staircase.
For more photographs of this wonderful hall and gallery see the entry by Robert O’Byrne. [5]

In the book Great Irish Houses, with forewards by Desmond FitzGerald, and Desmond Guinness published by IMAGE Publications in 2008, we are told that the scale of the stair hall is such that, unusually, a large fireplace was added to the return landing. The iron balusters are adorned with golden eagles.

Sir Robert took an interest also in the garden and Lord Palmerston of nearby Classiebawn would send him seeds from overseas. He sold some of the property in England and expanded his property in Ireland.

Dermot James tells us that when serving as MP Robert went regularly to London and brought his family and also servants. His servant Kilgallon wrote about the packing up: “They took all the silver plate. It was quite a business packing all up. They had boxes specially made for them. The housekeeper did not go as there was a housekeeper for the London house, a Mrs Tigwell. They took the first and second housemaids, house steward, groom chambers, under butler, and first and second footmen and steward’s room boy. All the other servants were put on board [reduced] wages [but] they were allowed milk and vegetables.” [6]

Kilgallon also described some details about how the Lissadell household was then being run, which is described by Dermot James: “The servants were managed by the house steward, Mr Ball, who engaged all the servants, paid their wages, and dismissed them when necessary. His duties included ordering all the wine for the house and acting as wine waiter at dinners. Ball supervised a small army of footmen, grooms, maids, etc. The groom chambers carved, and with the footmen, waited at all meals, despatched the post, opened the newspapers and ironed them. Their other duties included attending the hall door and polishing the furniture in the main rooms. One of the footmen was also the under-butler who kept the dinner silver in order and laid the dinner table, making sure that plates intended to be hot were kept warm in a special iron cupboard heated by charcoal kept outside the dining room door.”

The maids had to be up at 4am to prepare for carrying hot water to the bedrooms. There was a cook, pastry cook, kitchen maid, scullery maid and some kitchen boys. Kilgallon describes the meals, serving order and seating, and entertainment – there was a small dance in the servants hall once or twice a week, with beer and whiskey punch provided!

Henry William Gore-Booth (1843-1900) inherited in 1876 and became the 5th Baronet. He held the offices of High Sheriff of County Sligo, Deputy Lieutenant of County Sligo and Justice of the Peace for County Sligo. He was also a keen fisherman and Arctic explorer.

His sister Fanny Stella married Owen Wynne of nearby Hazelwood, County Sligo (which was designed by Richard Cassells and was recently owned by Lough Gill Distillery, until sold to American alcohol company Sazerac, which plans to save the house from dereliction).

From the entrance hall, we were brought by the tour guide into the Billiards Room full of Gore-Booth memorabilia, including Henry’s fishing equipment. Kilgallon stayed on for the next generation, and he accompanied Henry the 5th Baronet on all of his fishing adventures and Arctic explorations. Kilgallon became Sir Henry’s personal valet as well as his close companion and confidant. At one point he saved Henry from an attacking bear, and the bear was then stuffed and brought back to Lissadell. It used to stand in the front hall, alarming arriving guests!

Kilgallon, with young Angus Gore-Booth.

The original wallpaper has been replaced by David Skinner, an expert on wallpapers of the great houses of Ireland, with hand-blocked period copies.

Lissadell, 2022.
Lissadell, 2022.
Lissadell, 2022.
Lissadell, 2022.

It is said that Sir Henry’s wife Georgina built the artificial lake at Lissadell in the vain hope that he might stay at home and fish in it, but as the harpoons and whale bones in the billiard room testify, Sir Henry continued to travel.

Robert was President of the Sligo Agricultural Society, and he and his eldest son founded three co-operative societies in the area. He also took over the Sligo Shirt Factory to prevent it from closing and made it flourish again. He was also involved in mining locally, and played a role in setting up the railway connecting Sligo with Enniskillen, subsequently becoming the company’s chairman. He also continued the oyster fishery his father had set up – his father was one of the pioneers in creating artificial oyster beds. Henry married Georgina Mary Hill, daughter of Colonel John Hill of Tickhill Castle, Yorkshire.

Henry Gore-Booth, 5th Baronet, by Sarah Purser.
Georgina, Lady Gore-Booth, née Hill, by Sarah Purser.

Upstairs is the music gallery. Mark Bence-Jones describes it as a vast apse-ended gallery (an apse is an area with curved walls at the end of a building, usually at the the east end of a church), lit by a clerestory (a clerestory is a high section of wall that contains windows above eye level) and skylights, with engaged Doric piers along one side, and Ionic columns along the other. It was hard to capture in a photograph since we were on a tour.

In Great Irish Houses, forewards by Desmond FitzGerald and Desmond Guinness, we are told that the gallery is 65 foot long. It still has its original Gothic chamber organ, which was made by Hull of Dublin in 1812 and is pumped by bellows in the basement! Two Grecian gasoliers by William Collins, a renowned Regency maker of chandeliers, hang on chains from the ceiling. As late as 1846 Lissadell generated gas from its own gasometer.

Lissadell was the first house in Ireland to be lit by its own gas supply. This was produced in a plant installed by Sir Robert about a quarter of a mile to the west of the mansion, complete with a house for the manager in charge of the works.

A team led by Kevin Smith, from the internationally renowned Windsor House Antiques of London, undertook the major task of restoring the gasoliers.

A Grecian gasolier by William Collins, a renowned Regency maker of chandeliers.
Lissadell, 2022.
Lissadell, 2022.
Unusual, the gallery has Ionic pillars on one side and Doric pillars on the other side.
The original Gothic chamber organ, which was made by Hull of Dublin in 1812 and is pumped by bellows in the basement.
Lissadell, 2022.
Lissadell, 2022.

The 4th Baronet and Georgina Mary Hill had five children. The eldest son, Josslyn (1869-1944) was to inherit the property. There was a younger son, Mordaunt, and three daughters, Constance, Eva and Mabel.

It was with Josslyn that Henry William set up the co-operatives. When Josslyn was young, he had socialist ideals, much like his sisters Eva and Constance. He joined Horace Plunkett in his efforts to help the farmers to help themselves, by cutting out the middle man. It took a while for farmers to trust the motivation of Plunkett and Gore-Booth in setting up the co-operatives, thinking that “no good thing could come from a man who was at once a Protestant, a landlord and a Unionist.” Catholic priests even denounced the co-operatives as a “Protestant plot.” Eventually, however, they flourished, and helped the farmers.

Josslyn continued to develop the estate, so that it became one of the most progressive and best run in Ireland.

Josslyn was a keen gardener and plant breeder. At Lissadell he established one of the finest horticultural enterprises in Europe. By 1906, his gardens provided employment for more than 200 people. The head gardener, Joseph Sangster, became head gardener of the Royal Horticultural Society in England. An advocate of land reform, he let more than 1000 tenants buy out 28,000 acres of the property under the Wyndham Land Act of 1903. The final payments under the scheme were not received until the 1970s. Until he died in 1944, the estate was famous the world over for its varieties of old and new flowers. [7] The current owners are working to re-establish the gardens.

Next we enter a room that is in the bow of the house, and features in a poem by W. B. Yeats. Mark Bence-Jones tells us:

“The rather monumental sequence of hall and gallery leads to a lighter and more intimate bow room with windows facing towards Sligo Bay – the windows Yeats had in mind when he wrote, in his poem on Eva Gore-Booth and her sister, Constance Markievizc:

“The light of evening, Lissadell

Great windows open to the South.”

This room, and all other principal receptions rooms, have massive marble chimney-pieces in the Egyptian taste. The ante-room has a striped wallpaper of lovely faded rose.”

In memory of Eva Gore Booth and Constance Markiewicz” This is the first part of this poem:

The light of evening, Lissadell,
Great windows open to the south,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.

But a raving autumn shears
Blossom from the summer’s wreath;
The older is condemned to death,
Pardoned, drags out lonely years
Conspiring among the ignorant.
I know not what the younger dreams –
Some vague Utopia – and she seems,
When withered old and skeleton-gaunt,
An image of such politics.

Many a time I think to seek
One or the other out and speak
Of that old Georgian mansion, mix
pictures of the mind, recall
That table and the talk of youth,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.”

Lissadell, 2022.
Lissadell, 2022.
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Photographs of the Gore-Booths are taken from the Sterry family album, purchased for the Lissadell collection in 2007. It shows Constance in her early 20s.

Constance went to art school in the Slade School of Art in London 1892-1894. She lived in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, where many of London’s bohemians and writers gathered: George Eliot had lived there, Whistler, Henry James and Erskine Childers. At the age of 25 went to Paris to continue her studies, and met and married a fellow artist, the Polish Casimir Markievicz. Many of Constance’s paintings still hang on the walls, as well as some work by Casimir. Their only child, Maeve Allys, was born in Lissadell in 1901.

Constance Gore-Booth (left) and her sister, Eva, in 1895.
Lissadell, 2022.
Lissadell, 2022.
Painting of Countess Markievicz (1868-1927) by Casimir Markievicz (1874-1932), hanging in the National Gallery of Ireland. Constance Gore-Booth studied art in London and Paris, and in 1900 married Count Markievicz-Dunin, a Polish aristocrat.
Lissadell, 2022.
Casimir Markievicz.
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Lissadell, 2022.
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Lissadell, 2022.
Lissadell, 2022.

Constance had a strong social conscience, and became involved in the 1913 Lockout, where workers went on strike for better pay. She was then involved in the 1916 Rising, and was jailed for her activity. When the new state was born, she was elected to Dáil Eireann, where she served as Minister for Labour. She was also the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons at Westminster, London, but like many other Irish politicians, she declined to take her seat – members of Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland continue in this tradition and refuse to take their seats in Westminster.

Eva was a suffragist and poet, and lived in meagre circumstances in England with her partner Esther Roper.

Eva fought for Women’s Rights and clashing with the young Winston Churchill over barmaids’ rights in 1908. She spent many years in Manchester working to alleviate the condition of working women.

Lissadell, 2022.
Lissadell, 2022.

Eva wrote:

The little waves of Breffny

The grand road from the mountain goes shining to the sea
And there is traffic on it and many a horse and cart,
But the little roads of Cloonagh are dearer far to me
And the little roads of Cloonagh go rambling through my heart.

A great storm from the ocean goes shouting o’er the hill,
And there is glory in it; and terror on the wind:
But the haunted air of twilight is very strange and still,
And the little winds of twilight are dearer to my mind.

The great waves of the Atlantic sweep storming on their way,
Shining green and silver with the hidden herring shoal;
But the little waves of Breffny have drenched my heart in spray,
And the little waves of Breffny go stumbling through my soul.

Lissadell, 2022.
Lissadell, 2022.
The drawing room with its rose pink wallpaper and a beautiful painting by Constance over the fireplace.
Lissadell, 2022.
An ornate Italian marble fireplace, set with an “horloge,” dominates one wall.
The clock features the signs of the zodiac.
The drawing room’s comparted ceiling.

There is also a collection of paintings by a friend of W.B. Yeats, “A.E.” i.e. George William Russell, who was also part of the farming Co-operative movement and, like Yeats, a mystic.

Paintings by A.E.

The anteroom still has an engraving that Constance made with her sister Mabel in a windowpane with a diamond in 1898. Drawings from Constance’s sketchbook are displayed also.

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Sketches by Constance.
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A mystical painting by A.E.
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This little boy is the son of Casimir Markievicz, from Casimir’s first marriage, before he married Constance.

I had been particularly looking forward to seeing the dining room as I had seen pictures of it before and it has rather eccentric paintings which I love! Again, it was hard to take photographs because the room was crowded with the tour. Casimir painted portraits onto the pillars. He painted some of the servants, including Kilgallon. The bear shot by Kilgallon stands now beside his portrait.

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Lissadell, 2022.
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The bear shot by Kilgallon stands now beside his portrait.
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Lissadell, 2022.
Lissadell, 2022.
I love the portrait of the dog.

Next we went down to the basement, which holds the old kitchen and a warren of corridors.

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I’m not sure who this is or why she is wearing such a peculiar hat – if you know, let me know!
Lissadell, 2022.
We did not get to linger in this room, unfortunately. The current owner of the house, Edward Walsh, is interested in military history.
Lissadell, 2022.
The stone steps are worn from use.
Tunnels were built for hiding the workings of the house, deliveries and the servants.

The long tunnel provides access to a sunken courtyard and the coach house and stable block, which was one of the largest in Ireland. This limestone complex of stables, tack rooms, grain stores and rooms once for staff and guests is now almost completely restored. Today it houses tea rooms, a gallery for exhibitions and lecture rooms.

Lissadell, 2022.
Lissadell, 2022.
Lissadell, 2022.
Cafe and Museum at Lissadell House.

In the 20th century the family fortunes took a turn for the worse. Constance and Eva died in their 50s. Constance died in 1927 and Eva in 1926.

In June 1927 Constance fell seriously ill. She was admitted to a public ward in Sir Patrick Dun’s hospital (at her own insistence). She had peritonitis, and although she had surgery, it was too late. Constance Markievicz died at 1:25 a.m. on the morning of 15th July, 1927. She was attended by her husband, Casimir. Her brother, Sir Josslyn Gore Booth, had received daily bulletins from the Matron, and immediately arranged to attend the funeral in Dublin.

Her brother Josslyn would have preferred a private, family funeral, but this was not to be. In death Constance Markievicz was even more openly appreciated and acclaimed than in life. Three hundred thousand people attended the funeral to pay tribute to “the friend of the toiler, the lover of the poor”, the words of Eamon de Valera, who delivered the funeral oration, and with whom she had founded the Fianna Fáil Party.

Two of Josslyn’s sons, Hugh and Brian, were killed in WWII. Hugh, the younger brother, studied estate management in England to run the estate. Brian joined the Navy. The third son, Michael, suffered from mental illness that made him incapable of running the family estate. Josslyn was still alive at this stage, and his four daughters continued to live on the estate – three of them never married. When their father died in 1944, the government assumed responsibility for the administration of the estate when Sir Josslyn’s eldest son was made a ward of the court after a nervous breakdown. Gabrielle took over the responsibility of running the estate at the age of just 26. [8] There was a youngest son also, Angus Josslyn, who succeeded as 8th Baronet. When Gabrielle died, Aideen took over the estate. For decades, the family struggled to maintain the house and the gardens became neglected and overgrown.

The family migrated to live in the bow-room and a small suite of rooms behind when the family of Gore-Booth siblings were living in near poverty in the 1960s and 70s, when the remainder of the house was uninhabited.

During this time the estate went into sharp decline, resulting in the felling of much fine woodland and the compulsory sale in 1968 of 2,600 acres by the Land Commission, leaving only 400 acres around the house.

Terence Reeves-Smyth tells us in Irish Big Houses: “The Lissadell estate had fallen into decline after the death of Josslyn Gore Booth in 1944. Indeed, writing about Lissadell for the Sunday Times around forty years ago, the BBC’s Anne Robinson observed that “the garden is overgrown, the greenhouses are shattered and empty, the stables beyond repair, the roof of the main block leaks badly and the paintings show patches of mildew.” It also featured in the documentary “The Raj in the Rain.”

In 2003 Lissadell was put on the market by the 9th Baronet, Josslyn Henry Robert Gore-Booth (b. 1950), son of Angus the 8th Baronet. You can listen to his memories of Lissadell online, part of the Irish Life and Lore series. [9] It was purchased by Edward Walsh and his wife Constance Cassidy, to become home for them and their seven children.

In the Image publication Great Irish Houses we are told that Edward and his wife Constance commissioned David Clarke, an architect with Moloney O’Beirne, to prepare a conservation plan and restoration of the house began in 2004. Assistance and expert advice was received from Laurence Manogue, a consultant to Sligo County Council. [10]

Lissadell, 2022.

The Image publications book tells us that there has been a great focus on the gardens, with regeneration of the flower and pleasure gardens. The alpine nurseries with its “revetment walls” (limestone and sandstone), terraces, and ornamental ponds had been neglected for half a century. Now the gardens are cleared and the orchards and two-acre kitchen garden have been reseeded. The plan, in many ways, is to resurrect the horticultural enterprise of Henry and Josslyn Gore Booth. Thirty-eight of an original seventy-eight daffodil narcissus cultivars developed by Sir Josslyn are now back in the ground at Lissadell.

Lissadell, 2022.
Lissadell, 2022.
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Lissadell House and Gardens County Sligo Ireland, Photograph created by Peter McCabe, Tourism Ireland, 2015, taken from Ireland’s Content Pool care of Failte Ireland.
Lissadell House and Gardens County Sligo Ireland, Photograph created by Peter McCabe, Tourism Ireland, 2015, taken from Ireland’s Content Pool care of Failte Ireland.
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Lissadell, 2022.
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There is an extensive museum in the Cafe building, with areas dedicated to Constance Markievicz and W. B. Yeats.

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[1] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/32400813/lissadell-house-lissadill-co-sligo

[2] https://www.ardtarmoncastle.com/

[3] http://lordbelmontinnorthernireland.blogspot.com/search/label/County%20Sligo%20Landowners

[4] p. 11. James, Dermot. The Gore-Booths of Lissadell. Published by Woodfield, 2004

[5] https://theirishaesthete.com/2021/11/22/lissadell/

[6] p. 40, James.

[7] p. 214, Great Irish Houses. Foreward by Desmond FitgGerald, Desmond Guinness. IMAGE Publications, 2008.

[8] For more about Gabrielle and her struggle to manage the estate, see https://lissadellhouse.com/countess-markievicz/gore-booth-family/gabrielle-gore-booth/

[9] https://www.irishlifeandlore.com/product/sir-josslyn-gore-booth-b-1950-part-1/

This collection includes Patrick Annesley b. 1943 speaking about Annes Grove in County Cork; Valerie Beamish-Cooper b. 1934; Bryan and Rosemarie Bellew of Barmeath Castle County Louth; Charles and Mary Cooper about Markree Castle in Sligo; Leslie Fennell about Burtown in Kildare; Maurice Fitzgerald 9th Duke of Leinster and Kilkea Castle, County Kildare; Christopher and Julian Gaisford St. Lawrence and Howth Castle; George Gossip and Ballinderry Park; Nicholas Grubb and Dromana, County Waterford, into which he married, and Castle Grace, County Tipperary, where he grew up; Caroline Hannick née Aldridge of Mount Falcon; Mark Healy-Hutchinson of Knocklofty, County Tipperary; Michael Healy-Hutchinson, Earl of Donoughmore, son of Anita Leslie of Castle Leslie; Susan Kellett of Enniscoe; Nicholas and Rosemary MacGillycuddy of Flesk Castle, County Kerry and Aghadoe Heights; Harry McCalmont of Mount Juliet, County Kilkenny; Nicholas Nicolson of Balrath Estate; Durcan O’Hara of Annaghmore, County Sligo; Sandy Perceval of Temple House, County Sligo; Myles Ponsonby, Earl of Bessborough; Benjamin and Jessica Bunbury of Lisnavagh, County Carlow; Philip Scott of Barnfield House, Gortaskibbole, Co. Mayo; George Stacpoole of Edenvale House, Co. Clare; Christopher Taylour, Marquess of Headfort; Richard Wentges of Lisnabin Castle and Philip Wingfield of Salterbridge, County Waterford.

[10] p. 218, Image publications.

[11] Lissadell features in Irish Castles and Historic Houses. ed. by Brendan O’Neill, intro. by James Stevens Curl. Caxton Editions, London, 2002.

Featured in Mark Bence Jones, Life in an Irish Country House. Constable, London. 1996.

Featured in Irish Country Houses, Portraits and Painters. David Hicks. The Collins Press, Cork, 2014.

Featured in Irish Big Houses by Terence Reeves-Smyth

Places to visit and stay in Ulster: Counties Fermanagh, Monaghan and Tyrone

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

The province of Ulster contains counties Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Derry, Donegal, Down, Fermanagh, Monaghan and Tyrone.

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/

Fermanagh:

1. Castle Archdale Countryside Centre & War Museum – demolished in 1970 but the stables remain intact.

2. Castle Balfour (ruin), County Fermanagh

3. Castle Coole, County Fermanagh

4. Crom Estate, County Fermanagh

5. Enniskillen Castle, County Fermanagh

6. Florence Court, County Fermanagh

Places to stay, County Fermanagh

1. Belle Isle Courtyard cottages and castle accommodation, Lisbellaw, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh Northern Ireland self catering €

2. Colebrooke gate lodge, Colebrooke Park, County Fermanagh and Triumphal Arch Lodge, Colebrook, County Fermanagh and Colebrook Cottages € for 4

3. West Wing and holiday cottages, Crom Castle, County Fermanagh

Adler’s cottage € and Bluebell Cottage € and Aspen Cottage €

4. Erne View Cottage, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh €

5. Florence Court, County Fermanagh – Butler’s Apartment

6. Manor House Hotel (formerly Killadeas Manor and before that, Rockfield), County Fermanagh

Whole House Rental, County Fermanagh:

1. Ashbrooke House, Brookeborough, Enniskillen Co Fermanagh BT94 4GX – whole house rental

2. Belle Isle Courtyard cottages and castle accommodation, Lisbellaw, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh Northern Ireland

3. Colebrook Park, County Fermanagh

County Monaghan:

1. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Co. Monaghan – section 482

2. Hilton Park House, Clones, Co. Monaghan – section 482

3. Mullan Village and Mill, Mullan, Emyvale, Co. Monaghan – section 482

Places to stay, County Monaghan

1. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Co. Monaghan – section 482

2. Hilton Park House, Clones, Co. Monaghan, and cottage – section 482, see above

Tyrone:

1. Ashfield Park, County Tyrone – gardens open to visitors 

2. Blessingbourne, Fivemiletown, County Tyrone – open for tours, self catering accommodation on the grounds 

3. Hill of The O’Neill and Ranfurly House Arts & Visitor Centre, County Tyrone

4. Killymoon Castle, County Tyrone

5. Lissan House, Drumgrass Road, Cookstown, County Tyrone, BT80 9SW.

6. Prehen, County Tyrone

Places to stay County Tyrone

1. An Creagan, Omagh, County Tyrone € for 4 or more nights, €€ for 2 nights

2. Ashbrook House, Aucnacloy, County Tyrone

3. Baronscourt Estate, Newtownstewart, Omagh, County Tyrone € for one week

4. Blessingbourne, County Tyrone €€

5. Cobblers Cottage Omagh, County Tyrone

6. Corick House Hotel, Clogher, County Tyrone €€

7. Kilcootry Barn, Fintona, County Tyrone

8. Killymoon Castle Lodge, 302 Killymoon Road, BT80 8ZA

9. The Lower House Rooms, Donaghmore, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, BT70 3EZ

10. Spice Cottages, Dungannon, County Tyrone €€

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Fermanagh:

1. Castle Archdale Countryside Centre & War Museum – demolished in 1970 but the stables remain intact.

https://discovernorthernireland.com/things-to-do/castle-archdale-countryside-centre-and-war-museum-p675541

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

p. 61. (Archdale/IFR) “A noble house of 1773 on the shores of Lough Erne, built by Colonel Mervyn Archdall in 1773 to replace a “Plantation castle”  originally built by John Archdale 1615. 
 
Three storeys over a basement; a six bay entrance front with a two bay breakfront centre; and a tripartite doorway with Ionic pilasters, entablature and pediment, the latter breaking forwards on two Ionic columns to form a porch, which appears to have been a subsequent alteration. 
 

The side elevation was of three bays, the bottom storey having Venetian windows with Gothic astragals in its outer baysThe quoins were rusticated and bold; with a solid roof parapet. Derelict since 1959 and now ruinous.” [1]

2. Castle Balfour (ruin), County Fermanagh

https://discovernorthernireland.com/things-to-do/castle-balfour-p675501

Built in about 1618 by Sir James Balfour, a Scottish planter, the castle was in continuous occupation until the early 19th century. Open all year.

Timothy William Ferres tells us: “CASTLE BALFOUR formed the nucleus of the town [Lisnaskea]. It stands beside the parish church, in the graveyard. The Castle was built with local stone ca 1618 by Sir James Balfour. Sandstone was used for the quoins and dressings. The main block consists of a rectangular block, 78 feet by 24 feet, with a large wing projecting to the east and west, comprising two L-shaped units. The northern block has three storeys with attics. The kitchen is vaulted, with a fireplace and oven. Corbelled turrets and gun-slits are a feature
 
During the Irish Rebellion of 1641, Castle Balfour and the village were burnt but later reoccupied. In 1689, the Castle was again badly damaged by the Jacobite armies but was repaired after the Williamite victory at Limerick. About 1780, Castle Balfour was sold to the 1st Earl of Erne, and the Balfours subsequently left County Fermanagh. 
 
The last person to inhabit the Castle was James Haire (1737-1833), of Nutfield, who leased the Castle from Lord Erne. James Haire and his family ceased to occupy the castle after it was destroyed by an arson-based fire in 1803 (his mother, Phoebe, was killed in the rubble caused by the fire). 
 
Thereafter the Castle remained ruinous, until it was placed in state care by the 6th Earl of Erne in 1960. 
 
Major conservation work was carried out between 1966-68 and again during the late 1990s.” [2]

3. Castle Coole, County Fermanagh

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/castle-coole

Castle Coole (pronounced cool) is a late-eighteenth-century neo-classical mansion situated in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. Set in a 1200 acre (5 km²) wooded estate, Castle Coole was constructed between 1789 and 1798 as the summer retreat of Armar Lowry-Corry, the 1st Earl of Belmore. photo by Brian Morrison, Tourism Northern Ireland 2008. [3]
Castle Coole, County Fermanagh, March 2022, built to impress by the first Earl of Belmore by Amar Lowry-Corry, 1st Earl Belmore (1740-1802) and furnished largely by Somerset Lowry Corry, 2nd Earl (1774-1841). 

The website tells us:

Castle Coole is one of the greatest neo-classical country houses in Ireland. Home to the Earls of Belmore, it was commissioned and built to impress by the first Earl of Belmore by Amar Lowry Corry, 1st Earl Belmore (1740-1802) and furnished largely by Somerset Lowry Corry, 2nd Earl (1774-1841). 

Castle Coole boasts some of the finest neoclassical architecture, interiors, furniture and Regency furnishings in Ireland. Original drawings by the architects, the building records, inventories and invoices recording the daily work of the joiners, plasterers and painters in the 1790s and the furnishing of the house 1807 to 1821 helped guide the restoration of Castle Coole in the 1980s. This combination of place, collection and archival record must be unique in Ireland where so many records and collections have been dispersed. It speaks of careful husbandry by generations of the family who cherished the past.

John Corry, a merchant from Scotland, bought land in Fermanagh in 1655 that had previously belonged to one of the participants in the Ulster Plantation. John’s son, James, supported William of Orange in his Irish war with James II, during which the old castle at Coole was burnt down. A replacement was built in c1707 – not a fortified castle but a brick building with sash windows and tall chimneys, signalling a period of peace and prosperity in Ulster after years of unrest.” 

The estate was inherited by Colonel James’s grandson, Leslie (named after his mother, who was Sarah Leslie. Sarah Leslie’s sister Martha married Reverend William Armar, Archdeacon of Connor and Margetson Armar was their son), in 1726 when he was still a minor. The estate was then managed by his cousin, Margetson Armar, who had been brought up at Castle Coole and who married Leslie’s sister Mary in 1736. Leslie Corry died young and so Margetson continued to manage Castle Coole. He brought about improvements of the farm and house and his wife was a talented gardener. They had no children so the house passed to their nephew, Armar Lowry-Corry. Armar was the son of Sarah Corry, a sister of aforementioned Leslie Corry who died young and Galbraith Lowry, who added the name Corry to his surname in 1764, on condition that his son would inherit the Corry estates. Armar Lowry-Corry’s sister Anne married into the Cole family of Florence Court in County Fermanagh (see below).

The website continues: “Through marriages and connections, the combined estates of the Lowry, Corry and Armar families (amounting to over 70,000 acres of tenanted land by 1779) were all inherited by Armar Lowry Corry in 1779 [he inherited after the deaths of Margetson Armar (1773), Mary Armar (nee Corry, died in 1774) and Sarah Lowry-Corry (nee Sarah Corry, she married Galbraith Lowry, and she died in 1779]. Armar, MP for Tyrone, was raised to the peerage as Lord Belmore in 1780 (and earl in 1797) and began to plan a new house, more suited to contemporary taste and his position in society. Architect Richard Johnston from Dublin was employed in 1789 but Belmore switched to James Wyatt, then at the height of his career and particularly skilled in the neoclassical style. Wyatt never visited the site, sending all his drawings from England. Much of the building work was carried out by skilled Irish builders and craftsmen and some of the furniture designed by Wyatt was made by the Irish joiners, including a great mahogany sideboard, and a large wine cooler for the dining room. The house is faced with Portland limestone from England; specialist plasterers under Joseph Rose created the decoration to the ceilings and walls; marble chimneypieces were commissioned from Richard Westmacott and Domenico Bartoli created scagliola columns and pilasters.

The ground floor of the central block contains the principal receptions rooms. The wings and first floor bedrooms were the family’s private quarters. The vast basement contains service rooms with separate areas governed by Housekeeper, Butler and Cook, who could come and go via a large service tunnel that connected the basement to the service yards.

Castle Coole, Fermanagh, Tourism Northern Ireland 2018 (see [3]). It has a wonderfully large front hall, intended to resemble a Roman atrium, with scagliola (imitation marble, the recipe for scagliola died with the man who created it) Doric columns and lovely plasterwork, which matches the Carrara marble fireplace. Specialist plasterers under Joseph Rose created the decoration to the ceilings and walls; marble chimneypieces were commissioned from Richard Westmacott and Domenico Bartoli created scagliola columns and pilasters. The rosettes in the frieze are from an old Corry coat of arms, and chalices are from the Lowry coat of arms.

One is not allowed to photograph inside, because the furnishings are owned by the present 8th Earl. You can see photographs of the sumptuous interiors on the website. The house was handed to the National Trust by the 7th Earl in 1951 but the family still occupy a wing.

Armar Lowry-Corry married Margaret Butler, daughter of Somerset Butler, the 1st Earl of Carrick. They had a son, Somerset, who became the 2nd Earl of Belmore. She died young, and Armar remarried, this time to Lady Henrietta Hobart, the daughter of the Earl of Buckinghamshire, who was Lord Lieutenant at the time. Henrietta however was not happy at Castle Coole and was twenty two years younger than her husband so they divorced, which would have been unusual at the time. He married a third time, this time to Mary Anne Caldwell, in 1794, from nearby Castle Caldwell in County Fermanagh (now a ruin). It was Armar who built the house we see today. He had it built in a new location, at the top of the hill, since he suffered from rheumatism so wanted to avoid damp. The old house burned down in 1797 while the new house was being built.

The website continues: “The 2nd Earl [Somerset (1774-1841)] had campaigned fiercely against the Act of Union of 1800 which led to the abolition of the independent Irish parliament. He lost his parliamentary seat, only becoming a representative peer in the British House of Lords in 1819. In the meantime, he concentrated on the furnishing of Castle Coole, commissioning John and Nathaniel Preston of Dublin to supply complete rooms of furniture from 1807 onwards. Inspired no doubt by the interiors he saw in London where he had a house, Castle Coole was as lavishly furnished as the greatest Regency interiors. 

To add to the splendour the Second Earl of Belmore commissioned furniture from Preston’s of Dublin in 1807, in lavish French Empire style. Preston’s also made the most extravagant piece of furniture in the house, the State bed, which was commissioned for the visit of George IV in 1821, although in the end he never visited Castle Coole meaning the ornate decoration has stayed in perfect condition.

Perhaps to escape creditors, Somerset took his family away for a 4-year tour of the Mediterranean in 1816, visiting Malta, Egypt and the Holy Land. He acquired a paid position as Governor of Jamaica [appointed by his friend the Duke of Wellington, who was prime minister at the time] in 1828 finding himself in the middle of a highly volatile situation. Leading up to the abolition of slavery, the British government sought to improve the living conditions of the [300,000] enslaved people, but this was resented by the plantation owners who dominated the local assembly [in Jamaica]. Belmore’s attempts at moderation were not welcomed by either side. In December 1831 many of the enslaved people rebelled, martial law declared, and the leaders executed. Belmore was blamed for mis-handling the situation and recalled to London. His conduct was subsequently vindicated, but it must have been a bitter end to his posting.

Somerset’s son Armar Lowry-Corry (1801-1845) became the 3rd Earl of Belmore but died a few years after his father and his brother Somerset (1835-1913) succeeded as the 4th Earl.

The website continues: “The 4th Earl, Somerset (1835-1913), rescued the family’s finances by selling land, reducing the estate to some 20,000 acres, enabling a partial redecoration of Castle Coole. In 1867 Somerset was appointed Governor General of New South Wales, where he supported the development of the railways. The 5thEarl never married but lived on modestly at Castle Coole with five unmarried siblings [one of whom was his brother Cecil the 6th Earl]. By the time the 7thEarl [a great nephew of the 4th Earl, grandson of the 3rd Earl, Major Galbraith Lowry-Corry (1913-1960)] inherited in 1949, the burden of taxes and the expense of maintaining the house led to the house and 70 acres of land being transferred to the National Trust with a grant from the Ulster Land Fund, the contents remaining on loan. 

The present 8th Earl lives nearby and continues to take an active interest in the house and demesne.

Castle Coole, County Fermanagh, March 2022: the entrance front has four giant Ionic columns, and the centre block of two storeys and nine bays. On the entrance front, the wings are single storey and consist of deep colonnades of fluted Doric columns ending in small Doric pavilions. The basement is completely hidden from view. Attic windows are also not visible, as they are behind the balustrade.
The Park Front has a curved central bow lined with giant fluted Ionic columns, and the wings on the garden front are of five bay links and end pavilions with Venetian windows. The Park front overlooks Lough Coole. The ground floor sash windows in the bow extend down to to floor to allow direct access from the Saloon to the park. [4]

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

p. 64. “(Lowry-Corry, Belmore, E/PB) The most palatial late C18 house in Ireland, built 1790-98 by 1st Earl Belmore to the design of James Wyatt, who adapted earlier designs by Richard Johnston, and also showed himself to be much influenced by Stuart and Revett’s Antiquities of Athens, so that the house is an unusually perfect example of late  C18 Hellenism, massive and unrestrained; yet keeping certain Palladian features such as Venetian windows and a balustraded roof parapet; and following the traditional Palladian plan of a centre block and wings. The centre block of two storeys and nine bays, with a pedimented portico of four giant Ionic columns on the entrance front, and a curved central bow lined with giant fluted Ionic columns on the garden front; the wings single storey and consisting, on the entrance front, of deep colonnades of fluted Doric columns ending in small Doric pavilions, and on the garden front of five bay links and end pavilions with Venetian windows. The ends of the wings have central features of four fluted Doric columns and are as perfectly finished as the major elevations; all being of beautifully cut masonry in a pale silvery Portland stone which was brought here at great expense, being shipped to Ballyshannon, taken overland to Lough Erne, shipped to Enniskillen and taken the last two miles in bullock carts.

The entrance front of Castle Coole. The windows are severe by design and have no moulding of any kind.
The entrance front of Castle Coole.
The entrance front of Castle Coole. The capitals of the columns are unusal as they are set at 45 degree angle to the facade. The pediment above is plain.
The Doric baseless fluted columns of the wing of the entrance front.
The side of an end pavilion of Castle Coole. The Doric columns continue on the pavilions and they too are topped with balustrades. The semicircular niches on the ends of the pavilions have always been empty. [4]
The park front of Castle Coole.
The park front of Castle Coole.
Wing of the park front of Castle Coole. The side pavilions have Venetian windows with medallions above and niches on either side.
Garden front of pavilion of Castle Coole.

Bence-Jones continues: “It was no less expensive getting English plasterers to come here under the supervision of Joseph Rose; and it seems that the austerity of the interior plasterwork was to some degree for reasons of economy; though in fact it is entirely suited to the Grecian purity of the house. The single-storey hall is of great depth and dramatic simplicity, its only adornments beinga Doric frieze, a pair of small Doric chimneypieces by Westmacott facing each other on either side and a screen of Doric columns in porphyry scagliola at the inner end. The splendour is reserved for the oval saloon in the middle of the garden front, which is lined with grey scagliola Corinthian pilasters and has a frieze of swags and delicate ornament on the flat of the ceiling; it is flanked by the drawing room and the dining room, forming a magnificent enfilade. The library, which has its original delicately moulded bookcases, is on one side of the hall, separated from the drawing room by the staircase hall, which contains a double stone staircase of great length, leading up to a landing with a screen of yellow and brown scagliola Doric columns. The first floor lobby, lit by glass domes, rises into an attic storey which is not visible from the outside of the house; and is surrounded by a gallery with a colonnade probably inspired by the interiors of the Parthenon and the Temple of Poseidon at Paestuum. In 1797, just before the present house was completed, the earlier house, which was small, built 1709 and with a rather heavy pediment, was burnt to the ground. The earlier family pictures and furniture were probably lost in this fire, which would explain why the house contains comparatively few portraits, making for large stretches of unrelieved wall, again very much in keeping with the Grecian simplicity. As a contrast, however, there is the sumptuous gilt Regency furniture in the saloon, introduced by 2nd Earl, and the bed, festooned with flame silk, in the state bedroom, said to have been decorated for George IV, who, however, never slept here. The garden front of the house overlooks a lake on which there is the oldest nonmigratory flock of greylag geese in the British Isles; it is said that if ever they go, the Belmores will also go. There are some wonderful trees in the park, and fine stables by Sir Richard Morrison. Castlecoole has been maintained by the Northern Ireland National Trust since 1951 and is open to the public.” 

Castle Coole, Fermanagh, Tourism Northern Ireland 2018 (see [3]).

The house is very cleverly surrounded by tunnels for the servants, which run along the basement level outside the house. The tunnels allow light to reach down to the tall sash windows of the basement. There is a special entrance for horse riders, where they can enter the tunnels after their hunt to go into the basement of the house where a special area for changing and washing was created in the basement with a unique Roman bath-style plunge pool down a few steps for the home owners and their guests, which would be filled by the servants with heated water. The changing area is beautifully designed and the tunnels are covered with grills which let in the light, so that the basement lets in the sunlight.

The basement level tunnels for servants or horseriders.

Another underground tunnel leads down to the Grand Yard. It was created in order to avoid a servants’ entrance at ground level. Deliveries could be made by driving up the tunnel to a back door into the basement area.

The delivery tunnel. It has rooms off the sides, where turf and coal were stored. It leads from the basement of the house down to the Grand Yard.
Grill covered holes let in the light to the tunnels.

The Grand Yard was designed by Richard Morrison for the 2nd Earl of Belmore in 1817. The area was used for several purposes including dairy, stables, laundry house, candle factory and servants accommodation quarters [including the Steward’s House, which is still owned by Lord Belmore, as well as the farm yeard]

The Grand Yard is surrounded by stables and coach houses. The stables and coach houses not only housed the family’s work horses, coach horses and coaches but also had space available to accommodate visitor’s horses and coaches – Strangers Stables and Coachhouses as they were referred to on plans.

The stable yard of Castle Coole, designed by Richard Morrison, commissioned by the Somerset, 2nd Earl of Belmore, in 1810.
The stable yard of Castle Coole, designed by Richard Morrison.
The Stables were on the ground floor of the yard and the stable hands and feed above.
The stable yard of Castle Coole, designed by Richard Morrison.

For more about the wonderful interior of the house, of which one can take a tour, see the website. The tour takes in the centre block. On the ground floor are the library, drawing room, dining room, morning breakfast room, and the round impressive Saloon with its bow front. Upstairs above the saloon is the bow room (decorated with Chinese style wallpaper, curtains and covered furniture, this room was used by the ladies during the day for sewing, reading and playing cards), a lovely double-height lobby that has more pretty plasterwork, and the state bedroom decorated for King George IV (with a particularly beautiful tester bed with gorgeous folded swags of curtains, original tassels and fringes, pleated sunburst lining and a generous rosette of scarlet silk above the bed inside the curtains. Bed steps flank the bed, like the ones we came across and used during our stay in “Norman’s Room” in Castle Leslie, and the bed is topped with gold coronets and gilt poles), as we have come across before in other houses (Charleville in County Wicklow and Loughton in Offaly). The lobby is lit by an impressive oval skylight and two further circular skylights. On the upper, attic, floor, that one can see from the lobby, are more Doric columns painted to look like marble, and a iron balustrade that matches the staircase. Doors off the lobby lead to the bow room and the state room, and two doors either side lead to the four principal bedrooms in the corners.

Also upstairs is the Library, which has a particularly impressive pelmet which end with what our guide told us have been called griffin heads but she thinks, and I agree, that they look more like camels, reflecting the 2nd Earl’s passion for travel. He travelled extensively in Egypt, travelling up the Nile, and he sponsored excavations and began a collection of Egyptian antiquities. He sold some of these later to the British Museum in 1842 to pay off debts. The unusual tentlike ceiling of the kitchens is made of a special fireproof material as it is underneath the room where the 2nd Earl stored his treasures.

The stair hall has a staircase that breaks into two, to create a “floating” imperial staircase, with iron balusters that contain gilded rosettes, with a slim mahogany handrail. At the bottom of the stairs is a table with many lamps for the residents and guests to bring up to their room at night.

4. Crom Estate, County Fermanagh

Crom Castle, Fermanagh Courtesy of Tourism Northern Ireland, by Brian Morrison, 2008 (see [3])

https://discovernorthernireland.com/things-to-do/crom-estate-p675551 and https://cromcastle.com

The castle is still in private hands but the grounds are open to the public.

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

p. 95. “(Crichton, Erne, E/PB) A large castellated mansion combining Baronial and Tudor-Revival elements, by the side of one of the many inlets of Upper Lough Erne, built 1829 to the design of Edward Blore. The entrance front has a gabled projection with a corbelled oriel at each end, but they are not entirely similar; while the tall, battlemented entrance tower, which incorporates a porte-cochere, is not central but to one side, against the left hand gable. The adjoining garden front is symmetrical, dominated by a very tall central tower with slender octagonal turrets, inspired by various Tudor gatehouse towers in England, but without a doorway. On either side of it is a gable and oriel. In the park are the ruins of the earlier Crom Castle, a Plantation castle of 1611, destroyed by fire in 1764.” 

5. Enniskillen Castle, County Fermanagh

https://discovernorthernireland.com/things-to-do/enniskillen-castle-p742361

Enniskillen Castle by Gardiner Mitchell 2015 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [3]).

The website tells us: “Enniskillen Castle, situated beside the River Erne in County Fermanagh, was built almost 600 years ago by Gaelic Maguires.

Guarding one of the few passes into Ulster, it was strategically important throughout its history. In the 17th century it became an English garrison fort and later served as part of a military barracks. This historic site houses two museums, Fermanagh County Museum and The Inniskillings Museum.

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

p. 121. (Cole, Enniskillen, E/PB) A large and impressive fortress at one side of the island in the River Erne on which the town of Enniskillen is built; with walls enclosing a ward of courtyard, an inner keep and a tall and frowning water gate with two conical-roofed bartizans. Until C18 the castle stood on a small island of its own, separated from the rest of the island by a ditch of water crossed by a draw-bridge. The castle was originally built C15 by the Maguires; it was granted 1607 to Captain William Cole, who rebuilt the keep as a house for himself, and renovated all the fortifications; the water gate probably dates from his time. The Coles continued to live on and off at the castle until 1739; afterwards, they established themselves permanently at Florence Court. The castle then became barracks, and the keep was rebuilt once again. The buildings remain in good repair.” 

Enniskillen Castle by Chris Hill 2018 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [3]).

6. Florence Court, County Fermanagh

Florence Court, formerly the home of the Cole family, Earls of Enniskillen, is surrounded by a large area of parkland, garden and woodland, with beautiful views to Benaughlin and the Cuilcagh Mountains. photo Courtesy of Tourism Northern Ireland by Brian Morrison 2008 (see [3]).

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/florence-court

The website tells us:

Florence Court epitomises the Irish country house: a grand and elegant house in a romantic setting with self-sufficient demesne complete with gardens, parkland, woodland, and supporting buildings. The beauty and peacefulness of Florence Court bely the sometimes turbulent lives of those who lived and worked here during the course of its 300-year history.

Captain William Cole came to Ireland as part of Elizabeth 1’s army of colonisation in 1601. He oversaw the creation of Enniskillen at its strategically important location on Lough Erne and lived in Enniskillen Castle, becoming Provost and then Governor. Many generations of the family continued to be involved in the governance of the area and as members of parliament. A century later, his descendant Sir John Cole (1680-1726) built a lodge to the south west of the town, and named it after his wife, Florence [Wray].  The house he built in the 1720s was not fortified as the early 1700s were a time of relative peacefulness in Ulster compared to the previous century. The present Florence Court house we see today was built by Sir John’s son, also called John Cole, who was raised to the peerage as Lord Mount Florence in 1760.  The house was still unfinished at the time of young John’s death. The colonnades and pavilions were completed by his son, William Willoughby Cole (1736-1803) who became Earl of Enniskillen in 1789.

Florence Court, March 2022.
Florence Court, March 2022. Mark Bence-Jones describes it: A tall, early to mid-C18 block of three storeys over a basement and seven bays, its front heavily enriched with rustications, balustrades, pedimented niches and other features; joined by long arcades with rusticated pilasters to pedimented and pilastered single-storey pavilions. The centre block was probably built by John Cole, MP, afterwards 1st Lord Mountflorence, whose mother was the Florence after whom the house is named; the name was probably originally given to a shooting-box built here in the days when the family lived at Enniskillen Castle.”
The centre block has a three bay breakfront with a central pedimented niche between two windows in the top storey, a Venetian window between two niches in the storey below, and a pedimented tripartite doorway on the ground floor.
Mark Bence-Jones writes:“The arcades and pavilions seem to date from ca 1770, and would have been added by William Cole, 1st Earl of Enniskillen; they were possibly designed by Davis Duckart.
Florence Court, County Fermanagh.

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

p. 125. “(Cole, Enniskillen, E/PB) A tall, early to mid-C18 block of three storeys over a basement and seven bays, its front heavily enriched with rustications, balustrades, pedimented niches and other features; joined by long arcades with rusticated pilasters to pedimented and pilastered single-storey pavilions. The centre block was probably built by John Cole, MP, afterwards 1st Lord Mountflorence, whose mother was the Florence after whom the house is named; the name was probably originally given to a shooting-box built here in the days when the family lived at Enniskillen Castle. The arcades and pavilions seem to date from ca 1770, and would have been added by William Cole, 1st Earl of Enniskillen; they were possibly designed by Davis Duckart. They blend perfectly with the centre block, and the whole long, golden-grey front has a dream-like Baroque beauty that is all the greater for being somewhat bucolic. The centre block has a three bay breakfront with a central pedimented niche between two windows in the top storey, a Venetian window between two niches in the storey below, and a pedimented tripartite doorway on the ground floor. The rear elevation has a central three sided bow with rusticated window surrounds, but there is nothing like the lavish ornament here that there is on the front. Curved sweeps join the back of the house to outbuildings.”

The back of Florence Court. The rear elevation has a central three sided bow with rusticated window surrounds
The back of Florence Court.
Curved sweeps join the back of the house to outbuildings.”
This is one of the outbuildings at the rear of the house. Through the entrance at the far end, one enters into the Laundry Yard.
Entrance to the Laundry Yard of Florence Court.
The Laundry Yard of Florence Court and the rear of the house.
Florence Court, County Fermanagh.
The Cow Sheds behind Florence Court.
Outbuildings to the side of Florence Court.
Outbuildings to the side of Florence Court.
Outbuildings to the side of Florence Court.
The Brougham Carriage: A square fronted double brougham by Holland and Holland of London.
Outbuildings to the side of Florence Court.
Outbuildings to the side of Florence Court.

The only room we were allowed to photograph inside was the Colonel’s Room, which is in one of the pavilions and which is where the tour begins.

The portrait above the fireplace in the Colonel’s Room is of one of Douglas Baird of Closeburn (1808-1854), not a family member.
John Willoughby Cole, 2nd Earl of Enniskillen and 1st Baron Grinstead (1768-1840).

Mark Bence-Jones continues, describing the inside of Florence Court: “The interior contains some wonderfully vigorous rococo plasterwork, in the manner of Robert West and apparently dating from 1755. In the hall, which is divided from the staircase by an arch, the decoration is architectural, reflecting the outside, with banded pilasters and a Doric frieze. Through the arch and up the staircase of splendid joinery with its handrail of tulip wood, the plasterwork becomes more rococo: great panels of foliage on the walls, and a cornice of pendants and acanthus. From the half landing one gets a view downwards to the hall and upwards through two arches at the top of the stairs to the Venetian Room, lit by the great Venetian window, which has what is probably the finest ceiling in the house; with a swirl of foliage and eagles and other birds of prey in high relief. The drawing room, to the right of the foot of the staircase, has a cornice of acanthus foliage, masks of “Tragedy” and “Comedy,” baskets of fruit and and birds. The ceiling of the dining room, on the other side of the staircase hall, is more elaborate, with foliage and birds and a central panel of cherubs puffing from clouds. There was formerly a delightful ceiling in the nursery on the top floor, with drums, rocking horses and other toys incorporated in the ornament. The park, which is dramatically overshadowed by the sombre mountains of Benknocklan and Cuilcagh, contains the original Irish or Florence Court yew. The 5th Earl and his son, the late Viscount Cole, gave Florence Court to the Northern Ireland National Trust in 1953. Two years later, the centre of the house was severely damaged by fire; fortunately the staircase and much of the plasterwork was saved, and most of what was lost was restored under the direction of the late Sir Albert Richardson. No photographic record existed of the nursery ceiling, which was among those destroyed, so this was not reinstated. Florence Court is open to the public.” 

The website tells us: “The house is a bit of a mystery: the architect or architects are unknown and in some of the main rooms superb decorative plasterwork survives though there is no record of who the skilled plasterers were. The main block probably dates to the 1760s and its colonnades and wings to the 1770s. These hide extensive yards and service buildings, grouped cleverly around the back of the house.  

The ice house at Florence Court.

At around the same time, the formal landscape of the 1720s was re-designed by William King, one of the great landscape gardeners of the late 18th century, who planted belts of trees to provide shelter and woodland, and clumps of trees in open parkland, where sheep, horses and cattle could graze. The mass of Benaughlin mountain provides a dramatic backdrop to the composition. The demesne provided the immediate needs of the household and employment for staff, servants and farm labourers, with grazing for cattle, sheep and horses, a large deer park, arable land for crops and woodlands for timber.  A major restoration of the 19th century walled garden is underway through the dedication of volunteers and staff.  The vegetable and fruit garden is full of activity once again, giving a sense of Florence Court as the hive of industry that enabled it to be largely self-sustaining.”

The walled garden of Florence Court.
Florence Court, County Fermanagh.
The gardener’s cottage, Florence Court, built in 1840, where the head gardener lived.
The rose pergola.
We saw frogs and spawn in the water around the gardens!

“At its height, it was further supported by nearly 30,000 acres of tenanted farmland, which provided much-needed rental income. The latter part of the 19th century in Ireland was dominated by the Land Wars: a period of unrest and reappraisal of the historic form of land tenure and landlord- tenant relations. Like most other estates, Florence Court’s estate was significantly reduced by various Land Acts brought in by the British government in around 1900 to deal with the situation. In so doing, many houses in Ireland lost their main source of income from tenanted land and began a gradual decline in fortune. With the impact of the 1st and 2nd World Wars and rising taxes, Florence Court eventually proved impossible for the family to maintain and the house was transferred to the National Trust in 1954.”

The website tells us: “Through the 19th century the 3rd and 4th Earls of Enniskillen continued the work of their ancestors by investing in and developing the land and the estate. William, 3rd Earl, was also a keen palaeontologist, and gathered a large collection of fossil fish which he eventually sold to the British Museum. As Grand Master of the Orange Lodge of Ireland he was also involved in many civic duties. William’s first wife, Jane Casamaijor, laid out the American garden with rhododendrons and azaleas on the slopes south of the house. William invested heavily in the estate and demesne. The 3rd Earl also built a Tile, Brick and Pottery Works which turned local clay into drainage pipes, bricks and tiles (no longer extant). The sawmill transformed trees into everything from coffins to fence posts, railway sleepers, furniture and gates.” 

The water wheel that drove the sawmill.
Water fed down via a wooden (larch) “flume” to the water wheel to operate the sawmill.
Entrance to the sawmill.
The sawmill.

After a devastating fire in 1955 the interiors of the house were quickly rebuilt and repaired. The contents had been on loan from the family and many had miraculously survived the fire. They were removed by the 6th Earl in the 1970s, when he and his wife went to live elsewhere but were generously returned by his widow, Nancy, in the 1990s. This breathed renewed life back into the house and the Trust continues to restore the gardens and demesne buildings so that all can enjoy this remarkable house, gardens and demesne and hear the story of those who created them.

View of the parkland of Florence Court.
The Summer House at the top of the Pleasure Gardens. The Cole family would adjourn to the summer house to drink tea and to admire the view of Benaughlin. The current house is a recent replica of the original.
The park is dramatically overshadowed by the mountains of Benknocklan and Cuilcagh. This is the view from the Summerhouse.
Florence Court, County Fermanagh.
Florence Court, County Fermanagh.

Places to stay, County Fermanagh

1. Belle Isle Courtyard cottages and castle accommodation, Lisbellaw, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh Northern Ireland (self-catering)

Nestling close to the water’s edge and set within a landscape of lakes and islands of gently rolling hills and fragrantwoods, Belle Isle Castle provides self-catering or fully catered accommodation. Situated at the heart of Belle Isle Estate and dating from the early 17th century the castle has been extensively yet sensitively refurbished, ensuring that a full range of modern facilities blends seamlessly with original period grandeur. Photo for Tourism Ireland, 2008. (see [3])

https://belle-isle.com

The website tells us:

Belle Isle provides an outstanding mix of natural beauty and authentic heritage on a private 400 acre estate designated a Special Area of Conservation with a range of accommodation options including castle rental, luxury cottages and self-catering apartments. Whether you are looking to host your wedding, enjoy a private event with friends and family or just have a relaxing weekend with your pets, we have something for everyone. Enjoy a Summer Getaway to the Belle Isle Estate with one of our great special offers.

Belle Isle has a rich history dating back to before the 15th century as the place where the Annals of Ulster were written. Belle Isle Castle was built in the early 17th century as the home to many generations of nobles and has been hosting events since as early as 1760. In 1991, the castle was fully refurbished to open its doors to more visitors. Belle Isle Estate stretches over 470-acres across Lisbellaw, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. It is a private estate with access to its estate grounds and trails open solely its visitors. If you are looking for the ultimate experience in luxury, Belle Isle Estate is one of the best hotels Fermanagh can offer.

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

p. 38. “(Gore, Bt/PB; Porter, sub Baird/IFR) A house beautifully situated on an island in Upper Lough Erne; the seat of a distinguished C18 soldier, Sir Ralph Gore, 6th Bt, 1st and last Earl of Ross and Viscount Bellisle, who was C-in-C in Ireland 1788. Bought early in C19 by Rev. J.G. Porter. The present house appears to incorporate a two storey C18 range with a three sided bow at one end, to which a range of 1820-30 was added at right angles, with a staircase hall, top-lit by an octangular lantern, in the re-entrant. The house was re-modelled post 1880 in the plain English Tudor manor house style made popular by Norman Shaw and his disciples; producing a gable entrance front with mullioned windows, a projecting porch and a tall, church-like battlemented tower at the corner of th 1820-30 range. The latter range, which is the garden front facing the lough, remains unaltered apart from having Victorian plate-glass windows; at one end is the end bow of C18 range, with Georgian astragals. Inside the house, arches were opened up between the staircase hall and the rooms at either end of it, to make a much larger hall; the staircase hall was also widened at the expense of the rooms in 1820-30 range, the old wall being replaced by a massive oak beam. An oak staircase with barleysugar balusters replaced the original stairs; the walls were panelled in oak, or decorated with half-timbering. The octangular ceiling lantern, however, was left undisturbed. The drawing room, in 1820-30 range, was redecorated, having been reduced in width, and given a chimneypiece of old oak carving, possibly of more than one period and nationality. The room extending into the bow of C18 range, which is now the drawing room, was given a stone Tudor fireplace; but it still keeps its original doors with shouldered C18 architraves. In 1907 the entrance front was prolonged by a wing in Tudor style containing a long and lofty gallery, with a timbered roof, an elaborate Tudor fireplace and overmantel and a minstrels’ gallery, the balustrade of which has slender turned uprights and would appear to be late C17 or early C18 woodwork brought from elsewhere. At this end of the entrance front stands a pedimented and gable-ended office wing which would appear to date from quite early C18. After the death of N.H.A. Porter 1973, Belle Isle was inherited by his niece, Miss Olivia Baird.” 

Belle Isle Estate, photo by Brian Morrison 2008 for Tourism Ireland. (see [3])

2. Colebrooke gate lodge, Colebrooke Park, County Fermanagh € for 4

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

see also https://colebrooke.info

and Triumphal Arch Lodge, Colebrook, County Fermanagh https://colebrooke.info/cottages/triumphal-arch-lodge/

Colebrook Cottages: https://colebrookecottages.com

Colebrooke Estate in Co. Fermanagh, N.Ireland offers guests a haven of peace and privacy with over 1000 acres to play in. The 5 star Whitehill Cottage and 5 star Woodcock Corner Cottage are sensitively restored original Estate workers cottages. Rossbeg Cottage is located in a stunning part of Co. Donegal, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. We are proud of all the properties, which offer high standards of comfort, with all the modern conveniences you would expect to find in quality accommodation.

See photographs on the recently published mention on Robert O’Byrne’s website, https://theirishaesthete.com/2022/08/03/triumphant/

Also Woodcock Corner and Whitehill Cottage, listed on the Colebrook website:https://colebrooke.info/cottages/

3. West Wing, Crom Castle, County Fermanagh

https://cromcastle.com

Holiday cottages at Crom:

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/crom/features/holiday-cottages-at-crom

Adler’s cottage € and Bluebell Cottage € and Aspen Cottage €

4. Erne View Cottage, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh €

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/holidays/erne-view-northern-ireland

A converted farm building with a spacious living area and views of the Lough Erne.

Erne View is the largest in a row of holiday cottages on the shores of Lough Erne. The cottage boasts stunning views, an open fire and a wet room on the ground floor.

Enjoy a coffee whilst taking in the view over to the Island of Inishfendra before heading down to the nearby jetty for a stroll along the shoreline.  

Adventurers might want to take advantage of the Lough Erne Canoe Trail which offers guided trips and canoe hire. Further afield, the pretty town of Enniskillen, with its historic castle, is just 20 miles away.

5. Florence Court, County Fermanagh – Butler’s Apartment

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/holidays/butlers-apartment-northern-ireland

Butler’s Apartment served as living quarters for the male servants at Florence Court, the 18th-century mansion next door to the holiday home. This atmospheric first floor apartment overlooks the laundry courtyard and adjoining woodland garden. Inside, you’ll find many historical quirks such as the period fireplaces, large sash windows and wooden floorboards. 

6. Manor House Hotel (formerly Killadeas Manor and before that, Rockfield), County Fermanagh

https://www.manorhousecountryhotel.com

Country Manor Hotel, Fermanagh, 28 August 2013

We often stay here on our way to Donegal!

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

p. 168. “(Irvine/LGI1912) A two storey Victorian Italianate house, in a splendid position on the shores of Lough Erne. Entrance front with pediment and porch in the form of a three arched loggia, flanked by a square tower with glazed belvedere and urns on its parapet. Now a hotel.” 

Grounds of Country Manor Hotel, Fermanagh, 28 August 2013
Grounds of Country Manor Hotel, Fermanagh, 28 August 2013
Country Manor Hotel, Fermanagh, 28 August 2013

A younger son of the Irvines of Castle Irvine [now dilapidated but you can visit the grounds], John Irvine, acquired the estate in 1660. It was known as Rockfield. The website tells us it remained as Rockfield until it was rebuilt in 1860 by Colonel John Gerard Irvine (1823-1902), who brought workmen from Italy to do the interior decoration which exists to this day.

The name of Rockfield was changed to Killadeas Manor House by Major John Irvine who succeeded to Killadeas in 1835 and died in 1860. It was his son, Colonol John Gerard Irvine, who rebuilt Killadeas, incorporated some parts of the old house into the new mansion.

The website adds that in a directory of Fermanagh, published in 1879, the author states that Rockfield was built in 1710, and greatly altered and added to in 1868 by Colonel Irvine under the direction of that able and artistic architect, Mr Armstrong of Belleek. There are some obvious similarities between the architecture of the Belleek Pottery and The Manor House not least the unusual narrow, arched windows.

During the 1939-45 war it was requisitioned by the Government and was for a time used by the American Forces. The house itself was used as an Officers’ Mess and Headquarters for the Seaplane base of Killadeas. It was a plane from this base which sighted the ‘Bismarck’ and consequently resulted in the destruction of this mighty battleship. The Manor House remained in the Irvine family until 1957 when it was acquired for a Hotel.

Country Manor Hotel front hall, Fermanagh, 28 August 2013
Country Manor Hotel front hall, Fermanagh, 28 August 2013
Country Manor Hotel front hall, Fermanagh, 28 August 2013
Country Manor Hotel front hall, Fermanagh, 28 August 2013
Country Manor Hotel, Fermanagh, 28 August 2013
Country Manor Hotel Drawing Room, Fermanagh, 28 August 2013
Country Manor Hotel Drawing Room fireplace, Fermanagh, 28 August 2013
Country Manor Hotel Drawing Room, Fermanagh, 28 August 2013
Country Manor Hotel, Fermanagh, 28 August 2013
Country Manor Hotel, Fermanagh, 28 August 2013
The honeymoon suite in Country Manor Hotel, Kildeas, County Fermanagh, Aug 27th 2014
Honeymoon Suite Country Manor Hotel, Fermanagh, 2014.
Country Manor Hotel honeymoon suite, Fermanagh. The bathroom walls can mist up to create privacy at the push of a button!

Whole House Rental, County Fermanagh:

1. Ashbrooke House, Brookeborough, Enniskillen Co Fermanagh BT94 4GX – whole house rental https://www.ashbrookehouse.com

Ashbrooke is the Dower House for the Colebrooke Estate it has been in the Brooke family for over 200 years. Formerly the home of Viscount and Viscountess Brookeborough the house has recently been fully restored and renovated to provide luxurious accommodation.

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

p. 89. “(Brooke, Brookeborough, V.PB) An austere Classical house of 1825 by William Farrell; built for Sir Henry Brooke [1770-1834], 1st Bt of 2nd creation. Two storey nine bay front, with a pedimented portico of four giant Ionic columns; three storey irregular side; eaved roof. Of cut-stone, with a sprinking of red sandstone ashlars which gives the elevation a pleasant reddish tinge. Large entrance hall; double staircase in back hall. Drawing room with original white and gold damask wallpaper. Sitting room with C19 arabesques. Large dining room, which Lord Craigavon, 1st Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, christened “Golgotha” on account of the numerous deer skulls covering the walls. The home of Sir Basil Brooke, 5th Bt and 1st Viscount Brookeborough, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland 1943-63; he and the late Lady Brookeborough made an attractive sunken garden at one end of the house. The house stood empty for some years after the death of 1st Viscount, 2nd Viscount living in Ashbrooke, a smaller house on the estate. But the present Lord and Lady Brookeborough have moved back into Colebrook.” 

2. Belle Isle Courtyard cottages and castle accommodation, Lisbellaw, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh Northern Ireland

3. Colebrook Park, County Fermanagh

https://colebrooke.info/cole-accommodation/

The website tells us:

Colebrooke Park in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland is first and foremost a family home, the seat of Viscount & Viscountess Brookeborough and one of region’s most important and historic stately homes. It is exclusive, discreet and offers a taste of a unique lifestyle which guests may experience whilst staying in an Irish Stately Home.  Set in a lush 1,000 acre working estate, Colebrooke Park is only 90 minutes from Belfast, 40 minutes from the West Coast of Ireland and a short distance from the tranquility of beautiful Lough Erne.

Lady Brookeborough has skilfully recreated the style and grandeur of the past with family portraits, original Victorian wallpaper, 18th Century porcelain and fine furniture used to decorate the grand rooms.  Modern additions such as en-suite bathrooms, central heating, a Business Conference Unit and Day Spa makes Colebrooke a discerning choice of venue for business away days and conferences.

Standing on the banks of the Colebrooke River, fishing, clay pigeon shooting, archery and other outdoor activities are available for guests’ enjoyment. For those who may wish to enjoy a less energetic stay there are long riverside and shrub garden walks and there are purpose built ‘hides’ for watching the abundant wildlife in this remarkable haven. These include deer, otters, mink, buzzards, kingfishers and many others.

The combination of historic grandeur, modern business facilities, outdoor pursuits and the renowned hospitality of the Brooke family means Colebrooke Park is a truly unique location for special events.

Colebrooke Park is a brilliant example of how comfortable an historic Irish Stately home can become in the 21st Century; the ultimate in luxury. Above all it is a place where guests can stay in complete privacy. The estate is ideal for weddings, house party breaks, family gatherings and as a corporate venue with a difference, all in the heart of Northern Ireland’s lush countryside.Having approached the house along the sweeping avenue, guests enter through the grand entrance beneath the portico into a large hall overlooked by the impressive main staircase.

Then guests can make their way to the Library or the Drawing Room and relax in great comfort in magnificent surroundings. In addition to these large reception rooms, there is a large billiard room. The Dining Room seats up to 30 guests at one large table and more in other formats – making it particularly well suited for corporate entertaining, private dinner parties and weddings.

Within the house, located towards the rear, is the fully equipped Conference Suite. Accommodating up to 70, the suite provides all necessary facilities for business users including overhead projector and screen.Colebrooke Park can accommodate up to 300 guests for receptions with a great deal of flexibility and with that all important personal touch that is so often missing in large hotels. There are 12 comfortable double bedrooms with private bathrooms, all of which have been individually and tastefully decorated by Lady Brookeborough.

The landscaped gardens, parkland and ancient woodland with 3 miles of the Colebrooke river meandering through it, form this stunning 1000 acre estate which is a haven of tranquility. There is also a dry grassed lawn at the side of the house suitable for a large marquee, demonstrations and exhibits or as a pleasant area to congregate on sunny days.

The website also tells us of the history, quoting an article in Country Life magazine:

A sprawling barracks* of a country house, in the heart of terrorist-torn Northern Ireland, encumbered with death duties and overdraft, is an unenviable inheritance. Particularly when, abandoned to patching, the fabric has begun to rot; the extensive stables and outbuildings are in ruins; the Victorian wallpaper is peeling from the walls of rooms empty from a house sale seven years earlier. Income from the beautiful – but agriculturally poor – 1,100 acre estate cannot conceivably support the maintenance, let alone restoration, of the house.
[* Someone else’s description – not ours!]This was the situation that confronted Lord Brookeborough and his wife in 1980. The Brookes are a fairly typical Anglo-Irish ‘plantation’ family. They arrived in the 1590’s and were granted a large portion of confiscated lands at Brookeborough as reward for services during the 1641 Rebellion (the name Colebrooke derives from the 17th century marriage of Maj Thomas Brooke to Catharine Cole). Thereafter they displayed a record of competent – often enlightened – land-holding, combined with remarkable honours for military and public service (the family includes both Field Marsh Viscount Alanbrooke and a Prime Minister of Northern Ireland).

The present house was built in 1820 by Henry Brooke (1770 – 1834), created baronet (2nd creation) in 1822, as the culmination of some three decades of frugal living aimed at restoring the fortunes of the estate after the excesses of his uncle. In common with Irish building tradition, the new house, a severe neo-Classical block, subsumed an earlier building of unknown appearance. In his ‘Specification of works’ of 1820, William Farrell – a Dublin architect who practised mainly in Ulster – wrote ‘All the old house except the present Drawing Room and Dining Parlour (the present south range) to be taken down.’ In its place, Farrell attached two ranges of red sandstone (quarried at Alterbrock on the estate and by 1835 covered with Roman cement) containing a palatial entrance hall, stone staircase, reception rooms and bedrooms. This switched the main front from south to east, leaving an untidy arrangement of windows on the south-east corner where the new two-storey building met, under the same roof, the three storeys of what remained of the old. The only ornament to this austere addition was an ashlar cornice and a free-standing giant Greek-Ionic pedimented portico, on a base of two steps, in front of the central three bays. The cost was £10,381.

Despite the sandstone in place of Portland stone, the shallow, eaved roof and lack of balustrade, the resemblance of the main front to neighbouring Castlecoole, Wyatt’s neo-Classical masterpiece is striking. This is no accident. A drawing in the Brookeborough papers held by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, reveals that Farrell discarded a more modest, and in many ways more appropriate design – the central three bays broken forward with an attached Ionic porch – for a direct quote of the Castlecoole portico. In a note to Henry Brooke of May 23, 1821, he approves an increase in the dimensions of the house, apparently with the sole purpose of eclipsing those of its illustrious neighbour, commenting that these changes would make the new ensemble ‘far superior to any in Castle Cool House’.

Other notes reveal ideas of increasing grandeur through the summer. First, the dining parlour was extended from the original measurements; then in September, the rooms to the left of the hall were altered ‘by taking down the partition wall and the floor over it to form a Room for a library of 36ft by 18ft …’ (In earlier plans and elevations the library is a modest, two-bay room between the drawing room and the dining parlour in the north range; this now became a breakfast room – currently the billiard room.) In 1823 additional offices were also agreed.

For the next 50 years, alterations and additions continued in a steady stream – the dower house, Ashbrooke (a plaque in the stableyard is dated 1830); lodges (a plan is dated 1833); a triumphal arch gate. These became most significant with the succession of Sir Victor (1843-91), 3rd Bt, in 1864. ‘Few houses in Britain showed more distinctly their owner’s proclivities,’ wrote Oscar Stephen in Sir Victor Brooke, Sportsman and Naturalist (1894). ‘From floor to ceiling, heads of every variety were to be seen; … bison, wild boar, moufflon, Neilgherry ibex, Pyrenean bouquetin … every known variety of red deer … markor, brahsing, ovis ammon, burrel … a grand series of roe’s heads … over the chimney piece in the hall the huge horns of an Irish elk and two enormous German red deer … two of the tigers he had killed in India … the famous black panther, and, most valued of all, the monster tusk of the great elephant, whose mighty bones … lay in mighty massiveness round the foot of the billiard table.’ It was a taste in interior decoration which prompted Lord Craigavon, first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, to christen the dining room ‘Golgotha’.

Given that he occupied Colebrooke permanently for only seven years – thereafter paying visits only in the summer and autumn, after the delicate health of his wife prompted a move to Pau in the south of France – Sir Victor’s legacy was considerable. He introduced sika deer into the park and built the splendid ‘Conservatory with the curved projection’, mentioned in an account of October 1864 from the celebrated William Turner of Dublin. Presumably it was Sir Victor, also, who commissioned the unexecuted colour-washed designs (signed C.W.W.), for panelling the library and dining room, which have Classical and hunting themes and the Classical stained-glass window over the stone stairs.

By the 1876 return of Landowners in Ireland, the estate was almost 28,000 acres, the third largest in the county – only slightly smaller than Crom or Florence Court. However, there was a sharp change in fortunes when all but 1,300 acres were sold under the Ashbourne and subsequent Land Acts, leaving, as with so many Irish houses, a ‘demesne’ scarcely able to support a large country house. This development, combined with the agricultural depression of the 1880s which left most of the gentry even worse off than they had been in the years following the Famine, suggests that when the 4thBt, Sir Douglas Brooke, had the ‘house and demesne’ valued in 1893 (for £22.035 6s 3d) it was with a view to selling the whole property.

By 1910 Sir Basil Brooke (1888 – 1973), 5th Bt, (Prime Minister of Northern Ireland 1943 – 63), who from childhood had nursed a powerful affection for the house – as a pupil at Winchester he wrote of it as ‘always tugging at my heart’ – was writing of his desire ‘to get it on its legs’. By the time of his return after the war, high taxation had eaten into the depleted income of the neglected property. Farm profits were low and the long-term trend of food prices was down. However, by reclamation and innovation over the decades the estate became a model of efficient farming. Changes to the house included repainting, removing the cement render, demolishing the conservatory and creating a sunken formal garden on the south front.

In the early 1930’s a Minister of Agriculture official described the house as ‘comfortable but with many rooms unused’. By December 1939, Sir Basil’s letters reveal the felling of trees as ‘the only way to save Colebrooke’ and clear the overdraft. All might have been well, however, had some tax planning been made before Lord Brookeborough (as he was from 1952) died in 1973. As it was there was no alternative but to sell up, leaving the house in the condition in which the present Lord Brookeborough found it in 1980.

The question was whether a house in such a state could ever again be made to support itself, let alone remain a home. The London-based architect Paul Hyett was called in to help arrange a feasibility study and devise ways of raising capital. For a time, conversion to a golf club looked the only possibility, although it was realised that the character of the house and its setting would be unlikely to survive such a change.

Fortunately, by 1985 Lord Brookeborough’s business idea had begun to take off. The Colebrooke estate offers one of the best driven snipe-shooting anywhere, excellent stalking of sika, fallow and red deer over 10,000 acres and pheasant shooting and fishing, all of which had the potential to be developed along the one guiding principal; that all these activities must bring paying guests into the house. As the idea developed, hope returned, especially when the Northern Ireland Tourist Board agreed to provide up to 50% of the necessary capital.

Problems, however, were not long in surfacing. Government grants, geared to the provision of commercial accommodation, tended to insist on features hardly compatible with the preservation of the fragile character of a historic house; from en suite facilities to numbers on bedroom doors. Planning permission for such a change of use also triggered an avalanche of fire provisions. Although at times the differences between the parties seemed irreconcilable a spirit of compromise won through. Bedrooms were permitted with designated rather than en suite bathrooms with the ample recompense to visitors today of splendid airy proportions and traditional full-length, cast-iron baths with ball plugs. Fire signs were accepted. Numbers on doors were not.

Having addressed the major structural problems, and prepared four new bedrooms and bathrooms in the south wing, in addition to the principal bedrooms in the main front, Lord Brookeborough, guided by the conviction that just three ingredients are critical to happy apres-hunting: food, comfortable beds and never ending supplies of hot water, put this equation to work. For the rest, the main difficulty was refurbishing – on a shoestring – the vast, bare reception rooms. A friend who had bought one of the original gilt drawing room looking-glasses donated it. Marble busts of Sir Victor Brooke and his wife, by a local artist, Joseph Watkins, were retrieved from a Dublin antique shop.

Monaghan:

1. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Co. Monaghan (hotel)

www.castleleslie.com
Tourist Accommodation Facility – since it is listed under Revenue Section 482 as Tourist Accommodation Facility, it does not have to open to the public. It may have events during Heritage Week – see the hotel website.

Open for accommodation: all year.

See mywrite-up: https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/08/07/castle-leslie-glaslough-county-monaghan/

2. Hilton Park House, Clones, Co. Monaghan – section 482

www.hiltonpark.ie
Tourist Accommodation Facility – since it is listed under Revenue Section 482 as Tourist Accommodation Facility, it does not have to open to the public.

However, the Revenue Section 482 listing tells us that House and garden tours are available on Jan 9-13, 23-27, Feb 7-10, 20-25, 27, May 7-12, 14-19, 21-25, June 2, 12-16, 19-23, Aug 12-20, Sept 10, 17, 24, weekdays, 9am-1pm, Sunday, 1pm-5pm
Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €8, child €5.

Hilton Park, Monaghan, photograph taken 2018 for Tourism Ireland. (see [3])

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

3. Mullan Village and Mill, Mullan, Emyvale, Co. Monaghan – section 482

www.mullanvillage.com
Open: Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, 2pm-6.30pm
Fee: €6

Places to stay, County Monaghan

1. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Co. Monaghan – section 482

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/08/07/castle-leslie-glaslough-county-monaghan/

www.castleleslie.com
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
Open: all year

2. Hilton Park House, Clones, Co. Monaghan – section 482, see above

www.hiltonpark.ie
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

There is also a cottage: https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/52624113?guests=1&adults=1&s=67&unique_share_id=7b807434-ea7d-4b61-a8a9-977ac73725fa&source_impression_id=p3_1648836274_6bBQXGdvQuronwMs

Tyrone:

1. Ashfield Park, County Tyrone – gardens open to visitors 

http://www.ni-environment.gov.uk/index.htm 

and

Telephone 

028 9056 9615 

2. Blessingbourne, Fivemiletown, County Tyrone – open for tours, self catering accommodation on the grounds 

https://www.blessingbourne.com

Blessingbourne, County Tyrone, photograph courtesy of Tourism Northern Ireland, 2019. (see [3])

The website tells us:

Blessingbourne Estate came into the Montgomery family by marriage to the Armar family in the early 18th century.  The builder of Blessingbourne was a man of taste; Hugh De Fellenberg known as “Colonel Eclipse”, Montgomery, grandfather of Captain Peter Montgomery.

Blessingbourne originally belonged to the Armars. The Estate came to the Montgomerys in the eighteenth century when Elizabeth Armar married Hugh Montgomery [b. 1692], of Derrygonnelly Castle in Fermanagh.

The first Montgomery to live at Blessingbourne was another Hugh. Hugh was born in 1779 and known for some reason as “Colonel Eclipse”. His portrait, which he gave to his old school, Eton, shows him to have been very handsome. However, he was unlucky in love.

He vowed he would never marry and built himself a bachelor retreat at Blessingbourne, a romantic thatched cottage. He also built the charming little Gate Lodge (transformed to the present day 5 star Gate Lodge)

But his bachelorhood ended after a few years, for he married a Spanish girl and had a son. His son’s godmother was Lady Byron, who remained a close friend and was greatly attached to his sister Mary, a key figure in the development of Blessingbourne.

It descended in the family to Peter Montgomery, Vice-Lord Lieutenant of Tyrone, who died childless, after which it passed to a cousin. The property was ultimately the inheritance of Captain Robert Lowry, a direct descendant of Colonel Eclipse, and now belongs to Colleen and Nicholas Lowry.

The Classic Tour encompasses everything well loved about the Estate. Current estate owners Nicholas and Colleen Lowry host all Tours personally. This tour includes a walk through the Victorian gardens, with their majestic setting overlooking the beautiful Lough Fadda. As well as, a private tour of main ground floor rooms of the impressive Manor House. The Manor House was built in 1871-74 and designed by Pepy’s Cockerall a close friend of William Morris. After that, enjoy a guided stroll around the extensive Coach , Carriage and Costume Collections from yesteryear.

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

p. 44. “(Montgomery/IFR) There was originally no house at Blessingbourne, an estate which came to the Montgomerys through marriage early in C18; the family seat being Derrygonnelly Castle in County Fermanagh, which was burnt later in C18 and not rebuilt. The family lived for some years at Castle Hume, which they rented; then, at the beginning of C19, a romantic thatched cottage was built by the side of the lough at Blessingbourne by Hugh Montgomery (known as Colonel Eclipse) as a bachelor retreat for himself after he had been crossed in love. His bachelorhood ended in 1821, when he married a Spanish girl; but during the next 50 years the family lived mainly abroad, so that his cottage was all they needed for their occasional visits to County Tyrone. The present Victorian Elizabethan house was built by his grandson, Hugh de Fellenberg Montgomery, between 1870 and 1874, to the design of F. Pepys Cockerell. Pepys Cockerell, son of the better-known C.R. Cockerell, as an artist as much as an architect; his patron and his patron’s wife were also people of tate; so that Blessingbourne is an unusually attractive and successful example of it style and period. The grey stone elevations are not overloaded with ornament; such as there is had restraint: caps on the chimneys, small finials on the gables, curved and scrolled pediments over some of the mullioned windows. The interior of the house is comfortable, with great character. The hall has a staircase incorporated in a screen of tapering wooden piers. Through glazed arches one looks across an inner hall to the lough and mountains. The principal rooms have chimneypieces of carved sone in a Tudor design, flanked by niches for logs: some of them being decorated with William de Morgan tiles. The dining room still keeps its original William Morris wallpaper of blue and green grapes and foliage; while there is another original Morris paper in the library. The late owner, Capt P. S. Montgomery, former President of th Northern Ireland Arts Council, stylishly redecorated much of the interior, which houses his collection of modern Irish art. Blessingbourne has passed to his nephew, Captain R.H.Lowry.” 

3. Hill of The O’Neill and Ranfurly House Arts & Visitor Centre, County Tyrone https://www.hilloftheoneill.com

Hill of The O’Neill and Ranfurly House Arts Visitor Centre, Tyrone, by Brian Morrison 2014, for Tourism Northern Ireland (see [3]).

The website tells us:

The O’Neills were perhaps the greatest of the Irish clans, whose origins date back as far as the 10th century and whose lineage includes two High Kings of Ireland.

Hugh O’Neill became leader of the clan in 1595 and as such was known as The O’Neill. A charismatic, even romantic figure, he had a long, tempestuous and complicated relationship with the English Crown, a relationship largely of convenience – for both parties. It was characterised by double-crossing by each side, building and abandoning strategic alliances. And ultimately, by all-out war.

In this story Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone and the last inaugurated chief of the O’Neills, plays the central role. Dungannon was at the eye of an international political storm from 1594 to 1603, during which time The O’Neill would lead mighty armies, would win and lose battles, and create problems for at least four monarchs.

And the repercussions were serious. Some might say that the consequences are still being felt today. When Hugh O’Neill was ultimately outmanoeuvred, his defeat paved the way for two connected seismic events that would forever transform his kingdom.

The O’Neill was a military genius who repeatedly got the better of the Crown’s generals in Ulster. However, after a bitter defeat at the Battle of Kinsale, he was driven to bid farewell to the Hill of the O’Neill and the lands he ruled over.

O’Neill’s departure for Spain, with the Earl of Tyrconnell and 90 followers, became known as the Flight of the Earls. It was a pivotal event in Irish history, effectively marking the end of the Gaelic way of life.

With The O’Neill and his followers effectively gone into exile, the way was clear for the organised colonisation of their lands by wealthy settlers, largely from Scotland and England under King James I. This was known as the Plantation, a plan conceived to subdue, control and ‘civilise’ the wayward Irish. Instrumental in managing the process and distributing the lands was the Lord Deputy of Ireland – Arthur Chichester, who had defeated Hugh O’Neill in the Nine Years War. (Chichester would go on to become a major figure in the founding of Belfast.)

The Plantation is the point that marks the shift in Ulster from an ancient Gaelic tradition to a new Anglo-Scottish ethos.  It is in effect, the beginning of another age in the history of Ireland, Ulster, Dungannon and, of course, of the Hill.

4. Killymoon Castle, County Tyrone

https://killymooncastle.com

Killymoon Castle, County Tyrone, photograph @ChristopherHeaney for Tourism Ireland 2022, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [3])

The website tells us:

Killymoon castle sits in picturesque surroundings overlooking the Ballinderry River on the outskirts of Cookstown just 50 miles from Belfast by car. The castle is a grade A listed building designed by the famous John Nash who also designed the Regent Street area of London and its most famous landmark Buckingham Palace. The castle was originally built in 1600 for James Stewart, six generations of the Stewarts lived in the castle until 1852. It was described in the Irish Penny Journal of 1841 ‘as one of the most aristocratic residences in the province of Ulster’.”

The original castle, built in 1671 by James Stewart on the substantial demesne had been granted to him under the Plantation Settlement. Stewarts ancestors had come from Scotland during the plantation to settle in Cookstown, and in 1666 James bought the land lease for the castle site from Alan Cooke – the founder of Cookstown. The castle was destroyed by fire in 1801 and in 1802, Colonel William Stewart had a new, more imposing castle built, designed by John Nash, the famous London Architect.

Killymoon was Nash’s first castle in Ireland, and reputedly cost £80,000 to build (about £7.4 million today).  It was described in the Irish Penny Journal of 1841 as “one of the most aristocratic residences in the province of Ulster, with state apartments consisting of “a breakfast-parlour, dining room, ante-room and drawing-room, all of which are of noble proportions and their woodwork of polished oak”.

The Killymoon estate remained the property of the Stewart family for six generations; however, their extravagant lifestyle caused the Stewart family to fall on hard times, especially during the years of the Irish famine.  The estate was sold in 1852 for £100,000.  In 1857, the castle had again been sold to the Cooper family; and, in 1865, Colonel Bolton, an English gentleman, purchased the castle.

A mere ten years later, Mervyn Stuart Thomas Moutray JP,  became the owner of Killymoon Castle until 1916, when Gerald Macura bought the castle and town of Cookstown for almost £100,000.  By 1918, Macura was also in financial difficulties and was compelled to sell off his assets. John Coulter bought the castle and grounds in 1922 and it remains the home of the Coulter family to this day.

Killymoon Castle, County Tyrone, photograph @ChristopherHeaney for Tourism Ireland 2022, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [3])

Take a tour of Killymoon Castle and step back in time. Visit Lady Molesworth’s morning room, the oval dining room whose restrained plasterwork and marble fireplace show the dignity of their Georgian origin. Ascend the magnificent cantilever style staircase and admire the fragile plasterwork like sugar spires on an inverted wedding cake .

Colonel Stewart was only 27 when this castle was built and it must have been a truly wonderful fairy tale to bring his beautiful bride to  this romantic spot.

Fortunes and families rise and fall and this fabulous fairy dwelling which cost £80.000 to build in 1807, was gambled in a game of poker and sold for an unbelieveable sum in the 1920’s 

Group tours can be arranged  by clicking the button below and filling out a request form. Private tours also available.

Killymoon Castle, County Tyrone, photograph @ChristopherHeaney for Tourism Ireland 2022, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [3])

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

p. 173. “(Stewart/LGI1912; Moutray/LGI1912) One of John Nash’s earliest castles, built ca 1803 for William Stewart, MP, incorporating part of the previous house which was burnt ca 1800. A building with a romantic silhouette in a glorious position above the Ballinderry river with a backdrop of sweeping woods and parkland. The principal front dominated by an almost central battlemented and machicolated round tower and turret; at one end, an octagonal battlemented and machicolated tower; at the other, the profile of the square tower in the adjoining front, the base of which is arched to form a porte-cochere. The latter tower has slender octagonal corner turrets, with cupolas. Pointed windows grouped together under segmental hood-mouldings, which were regarded by Nash and his contemporaries as Saxon. Good interior planning with square, circular and octagonal rooms fitted together. Hall with double staircase, lit by Gothic lantern on plaster fan-vaulted ceiling. Drawing room with plain gilt plasterwork cornice of wreath and honeysuckle design. Library in form of Gothic chapel, with stained glass windows. Sold after William Stewart’s death 1850. Subsequently the seat of the Moutray family.” 

Killymoon Castle, County Tyrone, photograph @ChristopherHeaney for Tourism Ireland 2022, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [3])
Killymoon Castle, County Tyrone, photograph @ChristopherHeaney for Tourism Ireland 2022, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [3])
Killymoon Castle, County Tyrone, photograph @ChristopherHeaney for Tourism Ireland 2022, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [3])

5. Lissan House, Drumgrass Road, Cookstown, County Tyrone, BT80 9SW.

https://discovernorthernireland.com/things-to-do/lissan-house-p704981

The house is open from Easter to mid September on Saturdays and Sundays, and during July and August it is open Thursday to Sunday. Opening hours are from 12:00 – 17:00.
3 guided tours per day at 12:30, 14:00 and 15:30.

Lissan House is an enchanting country residence set within a 260 acre demesne of ancient woodland and forestry. 

The estate was created in the 17th century and remained the home of the Staples family for nearly 400 years. Lissan came to prominence in 2003 when its popularity helped it reach the final of the BBC Restoration programme. 

Following extensive redevelopment, the house opened its doors in spring 2012 to reveal modern interactive exhibits and original family furnishings which take you on a unique journey through the history of the estate and the family characters that have shaped it. Children will be kept entertained in the house with the teddy bear treasure hunt. The demesne also features a challenging adventure playground for children, a wooded picnic area, walled garden.

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

p. 188. “(Staples, Bt/PB) A plain three storey 9 bay Georgian house with later additions. At one end, a single-storey wing with a three-sided mullioned bow. At the other, a gable-ended office range. And in the middle of the entrance front, a single-storey protuberance of unusual depth, embodying a porch and a bow-fronted porte-cochere with windows. Some time post mid-C18, a garden was laid out here by the architect, Davis Duckart; with an “artificial sheet of water with cascades, and a picturesque bridge.” 

6. Prehen, County Tyrone

http://prehenhouse.com/?msclkid=cbb767dba6a711ec8a9ab161a56f043c

Places to stay County Tyrone

1. An Creagan,Omagh, County Tyrone € for 4 or more nights, €€ for 2 nights

www.ancreagan.com

2. Ashbrook House, Aucnacloy, County Tyrone

www.ashbrook-house.co.uk

3. Baronscourt Estate, Newtownstewart, Omagh, County Tyrone € for one week

https://barons-court.com

4. Blessingbourne, County Tyrone €€

https://www.blessingbourne.com/self-catering-accommodation/ 

Nestled in the heart of the estate’s historic courtyard the collection of 5 award-winning self-catering apartments are ideal for family breaks, romantic breaks and groups. Guests can enjoy a relaxing country estate experience.

Guests can choose from 1 bedroom or 2 bedroom self-catering accommodation, all of which are pet friendly. Experience a home from home environment with the apartment’s warm and inviting décor. All apartments feature open plan Living, Dining and Kitchen areas. On-site laundry facilities are available.

5. Cobblers Cottage Omagh, County Tyrone (sleeps 5)

http://www.cobblerscottagecreggan.com

The lovingly renovated Cobblers Cottage has a cosy living/kitchen/dining area, 2 spacious bedrooms (sleeps 5) &  a bathroom.

Enjoy the simplicity of this recently renovated 200 year old traditional Irish cottage in peaceful surroundings of Tyrone at the foot of the Sperrin Mountains between Omagh and Cookstown, in the area of Creggan. 

6. Corick House Hotel, Clogher, County Tyrone €€

https://www.corickcountryhouse.com

7. Kilcootry Barn, Fintona, County Tyrone

www.kilcootrybarn.com

Kilcootry Barn is a 150 year old stone barn which is set on a 6 acre retreat in a private, rural setting.

This beautifully furnished and fully equipped property offers luxurious self catering accommodation for the discerning visitor.

8. Killymoon Castle Lodge, 302 Killymoon Road, BT80 8ZA, see above

https://killymooncastle.com

Stay with us in our Castle Lodge, located in the grounds of Killymoon Castle on the banks of the Ballinderry River, offers the most tranquil of breaks. Only a short distance from Cookstown town centre and a one hour drive to the north coast, Donegal or Belfast. With Killymoon golf club and the Ballinderry River on your doorstep what better way to relax.

9. The Lower House Rooms, Donaghmore, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, BT70 3EZ

https://thelowerhouserooms.com/rooms/

Located in Donaghmore in the heart of Mid-Ulster, the conversion of The Lower House into 7 rooms of accomodation has been our pride and joy. Renovated with the finest fixtures, fittings and decoration, a stay at The Lower House rooms is an experience full of character and luxury.

10. Spice Cottages, Dungannon, County Tyrone €€

https://www.spicecottages.com/cottages/ginger-cottage-dungannon

4 Stunning self catering family cottages situated in the Dungannon countryside, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland

[1] 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.

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

[3] Ireland’s Content Pool, https://www.irelandscontentpool.com/en

[4] Castle Coole, County Fermanagh, booklet published by the National Trust, originally written by Peter Marlow, revised by Oliver Garnett, with a forward by the 8th Earl of Belmore, 2013.