contact: Ann French Tel: 087-2245726 www.thechurch.ie Open: Jan 1-Dec 23, 27-31, 12 noon-11pm Fee: Free
The former St. Mary’s Church of Ireland was built from 1700-1704. It is now in use as bar and restaurant, with modern glazed stair tower built to northeast, linked with an elevated glazed walkway to the restaurant at the upper level within the church. The National Inventory tells us that it was designed by William Robinson and completed by his successor, Thomas Burgh.
The church has a special place in my husband’s heart because his ancestor John Winder visited Dublin to preach a sermon here in around 1720, when he was rector at Kilroot in County Antrim, a position he obtained after Jonathan Swift. St. Mary’s parish was founded in 1697, the second parish on the north side of the River Liffey (the first must have been St. Michans). It took its name from the medieval monastery of St. Mary’s Abbey that had occupied most of the north side of the river from 1139 until its dissolution in 1539.
It was closed as a church in 1986 due to the fall of parishioners, as residents moved from the city centre. The building was used for various purposes until purchased by publican John Keating in 1997. Until it was changed for use as a bar it contained the oldest unaltered church interior in Dublin, and much of this has been preserved.
William Robinson was made surveyor general of buildings in Ireland in 1671. He was also engineer general and master of ordinance, so was responsible for fortifications. He built Charles Fort in Kinsale, and in 1677–8 he was adviser and contractor on the construction of Essex Bridge in Dublin. In 1679 was involved in the rebuilding of Lismore cathedral, Co. Waterford, and designed the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham (1680–84).  In 1682 he oversaw the construction of Ormond Bridge in Dublin.
The Dictionary of Irish Biography tells us that William Robinson’s patent as surveyor general was renewed in 1684, though he now shared the post with William Molyneux (1656–98), who later oversaw the partial construction of Robinson’s design for the courtyard of Dublin castle when he and Robinson were deprived of the surveryorship by the lord deputy, the earl of Tyrconnell. Robinson went to England during Tyrconnell’s deputyship and Molyneux remained in Ireland and carried out extensive building work at Dublin castle, presumably to Robinson’s designs.
In 1689 Robin was appointed comptroller general of provisions and commissary general of pay and provisions in the Williamite army, the latter position being shared with Bartholomew van Homrigh (the father of Jonathan Swift’s friend, whom he called “Vanessa”).
Robinson returned to Ireland, and was Elected MP for Knocktopher, Co. Kilkenny (1692–3) and Wicklow town (1695–9) and in 1702 was appointed to the Privy Council in Ireland. In 1695 he rebuilt Dublin’s Four Courts, and in 1703–4 he designed Marsh’s Library in Dublin, his last major work.
Robinson served as MP for Dublin University 1703–12, and he purchased forfeited lands in Carlow and Louth in April and June 1703. His career ended in disgrace however as he was accused of shady financial dealings and misrepresenting public accounts for which he was responsible. (see )
Thomas Burgh (1670–1730) succeeded Molyneux and Robinson in 1700 as surveyor-general, and was also made lieutenant of the ordnance in Ireland. The rebuilding of Dublin castle, started by Robinson, advanced considerably under Burgh, but his undisputed masterpiece was to be TCD library. His work designing and building the lower part of the library began in 1712 and continued into the next decade. It was finally opened in 1732. He may have been responsible for designing Kildrought house in Celbridge, Kildare (see my entry). He too had engineering interests including navigation and coalmining. He lived in Oldtown, County Kildare, and became high sheriff of the county in 1712 and was MP for Naas 1713–30. 
It is difficult to photograph the church, as it is in the middle of city streets, and Christine Casey writes in her The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005) that it exhibits “a curious amalgam of awkwardness and aplomb”! 
St. Mary’s church has four-bay double-height side elevations, with convex quadrant single-bay links to a shallow chancel which contains a lovely chancel window. It has a three-stage tower at the opposite end flanked by lower two-storey vestibules. It does not have a spire.
The west front has the main entrance door (no longer in use as the main door, which is on the north facade). Unfortunately I was unable to take a good photograph due to the position of outdoor tables and sheltering umbrellas. The doorcase is of Portland stone with Ionic columns and an entablature. Casey tells us that the lugged surrounds of the outer vestibule door are of brown sandstone.
The window frame on the east end chancel is of Portland stone, which Casey tells us “has a vigour and plasticity rare in a city by-passed by the Baroque.” She describes the window:
“Above a raised granite plinth, two broad panelled pilasters support an emphatic curved scroll-topped hood-moulding with urns to centre and ends, while successive inner lugged framed have scrolled base terminals.”
Casey suggests that the gable on this end may be a later addition.
William Robinson prepared a model for this window, and may have designed the unusual plan for the church. It was completed by Thomas Burgh in 1704 and in 1863, S. Symes may have inserted new windows as well as replacing the perimeter wall with railings. The original chancel window of St. Mary’s was smashed by vandals on the result of polling at the election in 1852. The current window was set in 1910, commissioned in 1909 by John North, the proprietor of the “Hammam,” a Turkish Bath on O’Connell (then called Sackville) Street. The new window reads: “To the glory of God and in affectionate memory of his daughters Maria North (Molly) and Rosanna (Rose) wife of Joseph Armstrong also his grandchild John Hubert Armstrong (Jack) erected by John North 1909.”
Inside, it is of double height with a gallery surrounding three sides. On the fourth side is the east window. The west end has a large organ on the upper floor. The centre of the floor is taken up with an oval shaped bar which is made attractive by its arrangement of bottles and glasses. The gallery is carried on octagonal timber-clad limestone shafts. Above, the gallery reaches up to the ceiling with fluted square Ionic columns. The ceiling is barrel-vaulted. Memorial monuments still line the walls. Outside, the gravestones have been moved to one end of the public square.
The east Chancel window has a lugged and scrolled surround.
Casey tells us that the building was remodelled in 2002-5 as a bar and restaurant by Duffy Mitchell Donoghue, who filled in the crypt and altered the floor level of the nave. The glazed tower holds a cylindrical elevator.
In 1761 Arthur Guinness (1725-1803), founder of the Brewery, married Olivia Whitmore in the church. His son, also named Arthur, married here also.
The National Inventory tells us: “It was the first classical parish church in the city and was the site of Arthur Guinness’s marriage in 1761. Wolfe Tone was baptized here and the church also witnessed John Wesley’s first Irish sermon... The galleried interior is one of the earliest in Dublin, and is a triumph of Classical timber design. Grand proportions combine with the set-pieces of the original organ case, east window and surviving Corinthian reredos, connected by an ornate mix of joinery and innovative modern alterations, to create a sumptuous and exuberant space. Mary Street was laid out by Humphrey Jervis from the mid-1690s and in 1697 the parish of Saint Michan’s was divided into three which precipitated the construction of Saint Mary’s. Jervis Street was named for the developer himself and was once home to seventeenth and eighteenth-century buildings. The streets are much altered now and consist largely of Victorian buildings, leaving Saint Mary’s to ground the district in its earlier historic milieu. As such, it makes a highly significant contribution to the streetscape and to Dublin’s overall architectural fabric.”
A rather simple baptismal font in the church is the font in which Theobald Wolfe Tone was baptised, and also Sean O’Casey the playwright.
The organ was designed by Renatus Harris. George Frederick Handel, who wrote the famous “Messiah,” lived nearby on Abbey Street and was a regular visitor to Mary’s to play on this organ.
The organ case, Casey tells us, includes the bases of three pipe-clusters with cherubim and scrolls.
The vestibules have early eighteenth century staircases.
Below ground, is the Cellar Bar. These function rooms are located in an area that was excavated out from underneath the church, and are not part of the original building. There are six crypts in the basement of the church, and 32 skeletons were removed and reinterred elsewhere when the church was converted to its current use. Access to the crypt was by an external stairwell in the church.
Outside there is a public square, Wolfe Tone Park, and grave slabs are stacked up at one end of this park.
“This is a beautiful mixed woodland that lies close to the Glenary River, a tributary of the Suir. The main feature of this site is the ruins of the castle that gives the forest its name. It is just 500m from the car park down a mixed woodland trail that leads to the river. It is believed to have been built at some stage during the 1800’s by the Carey family, who were local schoolmasters in the Clonmel area. A number of architectural styles are still evident in the ruined remains, including; Gothic windows, a Celtic round tower, a Norman Keep, and both Romanesque and Gothic arches. The remnants of a walled garden can be found to the southern side of the castle. An ice-house is located just off the trail beyond the castle. This is a stone-lined pit which used to serve as a ‘fridge’ when the castle was inhabited. Carey’s Castle was occupied by monks and up to recent years the ruins of the alms house was still in evidence. A real gem of a site for local historians.”
contact: Elizabeth O’Callaghan Tel: 086-8185334 Open: April 5-28, May 3-31, Tues & Thurs, June 2-30, Tue, Thurs, Sat & Sun, Aug 13-21, Sept 1-29, Oct 4-27, Tues & Thurs, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult €8, OAP/student/child €4
The National Inventory tells us it is a “detached three-bay two-storey over basement country house, built c. 1810, with recessed lower irregular-plan four-bay two-storey 1930s extension to south, full-height bowed bay to rear and flat-roofed porch to front. Used as rectory 1920-1976. ..Rendered and timber porch with Doric-style portico and fixed windows with decorative consoles. Timber panelled double-doors having limestone steps and cast-iron bootscrape. Segmental-arched doorway with spoked fanlight and panelled shutters to interior. Folly and remains of walled garden to site. ..
This house is carefully-proportioned with widely-spaced diminishing windows and centrally-placed chimneystacks. The bow provides a sense of grandeur to the rear elevation, enhanced by the finely-crafted sash windows. One of several projects in the area commissioned by the Grubb family, it retains much of its demesne architecture, enhanced by mature grounds and planting, including the remains of a walled garden, finely-made entrance piers, and an interesting folly.“
contact: Sarah Baker Tel: 085-2503344 www.cloughjordanhouse.com Open: May 2-31, June 1-30, Sept 5-30 Mon- Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 13-21, 9.30am-1.30pm
Fee: adult €6, OAP €4
The website tells us: “An 800 year old French style manor house set in the lush countryside of North Tipperary. Cloughjordan House is at heart a place of wholesome home-grown food, warm, welcoming rooms, gardens to explore and wide lawns to play on.“
The website tells us a little about the history of the house: “You can’t walk around the grounds of Cloughjordan House without feeling steeped in Irish history. The house itself has been there for over 800 years, dating back to as early as 1214. It’s covered in a colourful Virginia creeper residual from the historic Hodgins’ Arboretum and nursery gardens that the grounds were once famous for. The property has been in the hands of The Baker family since 1914 when they purchased it from the Hodgins family. In 1922, free state soldiers occupied the house and evidence of their target practise can see be seen on an ancient tree outside.
Peter Baker, his wife Sarah and their children; Julie, Holly and Sam are the proud residents of Cloughjordan House today. Over the past decade or more, they have transformed Cloughjordan House from a dairy farm into a magical destination with the best in food, atmosphere and accommodation. The family live in their own wing of the main house and welcome guests as though they are friends and family, even the family dogs Louis and Monty are available for a belly rub during your stay.”
The National Inventory tells us it is a “Detached multi-period country house, comprising five-bay two-storey central block, built c.1675, having rear stairs return, flanked by two blocks that advance forwards, eastern being medieval tower house and western being ballroom block built c.1850. Flanking blocks are gable-fronted and two-storey with attic, and middle block has pitched slate roofs with massive rendered chimneystacks. Rendered walls, with battered base and dressed quoins to tower house...Round-headed doorway with petal fanlight and replacement timber and glazed door to ballroom block. Part of original staircase with barley-twist balusters survives. Various gabled and lean-to additions to rear. Detached L-plan stable block, built c.1860. Wrought-iron gates set on limestone plinth to entrance. Remains of moat to north and east.
Cloughjordan House is a substantial farmhouse that contains significant fabric from the medieval period to the nineteenth century. Its form, detailing and original fabric provide important information about rural architectural development in Ireland. The house also contains fine joinery and plaster work and the barley-twist staircase is a rare survival. It has one of the few surviving nursery gardens for which there is substantial documentation that is now preserved in the National Botanic Gardens.“
Open: May 11-31, June 1-2, 9-30, Aug 13-22, Oct 3-7, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €8, OAP/student €6, child free under 5 years, adult supervision essential, group rates available
Fancroft Fancroft Gardens are not open to visitors for the seasons 2021/22.
The website tells us:
“An extensive conservation project, commenced in 2006 by Marcus & Irene Sweeney, has resulted in the rescue from dereliction of this mill complex which is of noted industrial heritage importance. A set of new mill stones were installed in 2010. Milling capability is now restored for domestic purposes. A recently installed generator contributes to the household heating system. All of the buildings at Fancroft are included on the Offaly County Council list of Protected Structures.
The rescue from dereliction of the mill complex at Fancroft received public recognition in 2017 when the Irish Georgian Society awarded the owners one of their Conservation Awards. The inaugural Norman Campion award for Best Restored Industrial Site or Museum was conferred on Fancroft Mill & Gardens by the Industrial Heritage Association of Ireland in 2019.
Approached by the winding road one has no idea of what lies behind the hedge and across the stream which drives the water wheel in the corn mill. Consequently the extensive gardens, created mostly in the 1990’s by previous owner Angela Jupe, unfold as a series of delightful surprises as one proceeds beyond the pebbled courtyard leaving the busy world behind.
In recent years Fancroft Mill & Gardens has proven to be a wonderful venue for successful heritage seminars, classical and traditional music events, sponsored walks and visits by interested individuals and groups from Ireland and overseas.“
“As well as being the Cullen family home, Cyril Cullen Knitwear and porcelain is designed and produced in the converted ‘old stables’ in the castle courtyard. The unique parian/porcelain designs are sold in what was the old dairy at Farney castle, the knitwear boutique is situated in the original kitchen of the castle and a coffee shop is situated in the 15th century round tower.It is the only Round Tower in Ireland occupied as a family home. Tours of the castle are available daily and harp recitals take place in the drawing room by arrangement.
The History of Farney Castle
The first castle was built at Farney in 1185 and this would have been a timbered structure. The present round tower was built in 1495 by Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormond, and it was part of a defensive system created by the Butlers to protect their land in Tipperary. The Butlers were in Farney Castle for 500 years but in 1536 the castle was confiscated by King Henry VIII of England. He returned the lands again to the Butlers in 1538 when he married Anne Boleyn who was the daughter of James, 3rd Earl of Ormond. Subsequently the castle was occupied for short periods by two other English monarchs namely King James 1st from 1617 – 1625, and King George 1st from 1716 -1721.
In 1649 Cromwell landed in Ireland and shortly after 1650 a Cromwellian soldier named Hulett took over the castle. Then in 1660 Capt. William Armstrong, a Cavalier who supported the Stuarts and who fought against Cromwell, acquired the castle and lands, and there were Armstrongs in the castle for the next 200 years. William Armstrong came from a Scottish Border country family which was famed in the sixteenth century for its ferocity, and in 1677 he purchased large estates in the area including Holy Cross Abbey and Holy Cross lands.
The round tower is 58 ft. high and has five stories. It is unusual in being circular whereas the majority of this sort of tower were square or oblong. It possesses a mural staircase (built within the thickness of the walls) off which it appears that secret rooms still exist undiscovered. The main door was opened up by Cyril Cullen having been closed for 200 years. There is a “murdering hole” over the main door and this enabled the castle defenders to shoot from above at any intruders. The tower castles were built to safeguard the Butler lands during the long periods when the family was away in England.”
Open: May 2-7, 9-14, 16-21, 23-28, 30-31, August 27-31, Sept 1-3, 5-10, 12-17, 19- 24, 26-30, Oct 3-5, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult €8, student/OAP €6, group rates available.
Mark Bence-Jones tells us it is: “[Mansergh] A 2 storey 3 bay late-Georgian house with a long 2 storey service wing. Enclosed porch with roundheaded windows; a Wyatt window on either side of it.“
The National Inventory adds: “three-bay two-storey country house, of at least two phases, front elevation rebuilt c. 1820, with entrance porch. Rear part of east elevation of main block, together with lower two-storey wings, five-bay to north-west and two-bay to north-east, may be early eighteenth century. Additional double-pile three-bay two-storey block having pitched slate roof to north-east…A pleasing middle-sized house of balanced Georgian proportions, existing largely in its early form and retaining much of its original fabric. This house is elevated above other typical early nineteenth century middle-sized country houses by the inclusion of ornate features including the elaborate entrance porch with round-headed openings and the tripartite windows with delicately proportioned engaged clustered timber columns. The house, its yards, walled and terraced gardens, together with its monumental entrance piers, form an attractive and interesting group on a slightly elevated site in the landscape.” 
9. Killenure Castle, Dundrum, Co Tipperary– section 482
contact: Eavaun Carmody Tel: 087-6402664 www.killenure.com Open: Feb 1-20, May 1-31, Aug 13-21, 10.30am-2.30pm Fee: adult €10, child /OAP/student €5
Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988): p. 170. “(Cooper/IFR) A large tower-house of the O’Dwyer family, burnt by the Cromwellians but still very well preserved, with a plain and unassuming C18 house of two storeys over basement alongside it. Sold in recent years, now a private school.”
The National Inventory adds: “Detached two-storey country house, comprising T-plan five-bay block, c. 1770, with central pedimented breakfront and rear return, with four-bay block built to south-west, c. 1800, to give overall L-plan. Two-storey pitched addition to north gable, with single-storey lean-to extension to rear and having catslide addition to rear of later block. Early seventeenth-century fortified house located to west….Fortified house has round-plan corner towers and three-bay four-storey gable-fronted façade, triple-gabled rear elevation, rubble limestone walls, dressed limestone string courses, loops to towers and ground floor of main facades, upper floors of latter having square-headed one-and mullioned two-light and three-light windows, some blocked, to main facades with chamfered limestone surrounds and label-mouldings. Pointed-arch doorways to front and rear walls, and flight of external steps up to north-west tower. Conical slate roof to north-eastern tower, rubble limestone chimneystacks and dripstones. Some later square-headed window openings to south-east tower, with red brick surrounds, one having carved timber traceried casement windows. Lofted stable and coach house to rear of house with half-hipped slate roofs and rendered rubble limestone walls and having square- and segmental-headed openings. Three-bay single-storey gate-lodge with hipped slate roof and rendered walls and entrance gates with dressed limestone piers to vehicluar and pedestrian entrances with wrought-iron gates and flanking rubble limestone walls.
This multi-period country house was formerly the home of the antiquary Austin Cooper. Its setting, next to a substantial fortified house, indicates considerable continuity of living at this location, and reflects the transition in attitudes to living patterns with a concentration on defence shifting to one of comfortable living. The later wing is typical of an early nineteenth-century country house with centrally-placed chimneystacks and tall sash windows. The fortified house retains mainly notable feature features including defensive elements such as the gun loops. The fortified house, country house and associated outbuildings make an impressive complex in the landscape.”
The Killenure website tells us:
“Nestled in the spectacular scenery of South Tipperary, Killenure Castle the home of Killenure Dexter beef is a truly stunning gift from times gone by. It has held a central place in the local community for over five centuries, as a stronghold; a school; an artistic retreat; a visitor attraction; and vitally, a family home.
Since its purchase in 2007, the house has been lovingly restored and updated. The renovations reflect the family’s role as both inhabitants and custodians of the castle, and have successfully balanced the needs – and responsibilities – that come with both. This continues the organic pattern of development that Killenure Castle has enjoyed for the over 450 years. From the original castle whose ruinous remains now dominates the space, to a charming ‘Hansel and Gretel’ style tree-house that is built around a 300-year-old living Irish Beech tree, the eclectic range of buildings reflects the fascinating range of almost five centuries of lucky inhabitants.
As well as providing shelter for generations of owners and their families, Killenure Castle represents the centre of a community. Its survival through 500 years is testament to the strength of the community it represents, and Eavaun and her family are delighted to share the castle with visitors. As custodians of Killenure Castle, we have built a sustainable, community-orientated business, ensuring the survival of the castle and Killenure Dexter beef for future generations.
Whilst the spectacular medieval castle and grounds have previously been open to visitors during the summer, they will remain closed in 2017 due to ongoing restoration works. If you would like to learn more, a guidebook is available for those wishing to learn more about this extra-ordinary castle, and the community that surrounds it.
You can purchase a short history of Killenure which documents the history of Killenure from the O’Dwyer Clan up to the contemporary Killenure of today. The cost of the book is €5.00 plus postage. To order a copy please contact firstname.lastname@example.org “
Open: June 15-30, July 1-17, Aug 9-31, Sept 1-7, 2.30pm-6.30pm Fee: adult €10, OAP/student/child €5
The website tells us:
“Welcome to Redwood Castle in Co. Tipperary, ancient home of the MacEgan’s and O’Kennedy’s.
Today the Castle is one of the main historical attractions in the midlands of Ireland. Come and take a guided tour around Redwood Castle and learn about the history of the Castle and surrounding area.“
The website tells us more about the castle:
“Redwood is a complex structure made up of two main sections. Firstly, there are a series of main chambers stacked one above the other that form the core of the tower house. These are accompanied by a series of smaller ancillary rooms at the front of the building, which were used as bed chambers.
This layout may seem fairly straightforward but it is complicated by each room being on different levels. While we normally think of castle walls as thick and strong for defensive purposes, they were in reality riddled with passageways and staircases that served the larger rooms inside. Irish castle builders generally made very economical use of walls for domestic purposes rather than military strength, meaning that castles were far less impenetrable than they appeared.
A series of defensive features on the exterior such as battlements and machicolation were instead used to convey a certain military bravado to those who approached the castle. The occupants of these castles were aristocratic warriors who participated in an ancient martial culture, and castles played an important part in dramatising and expressing their identity.
The earliest recorded occupants of Redwood are the O’Kennedy sept who are referred to in possession of the castle in the 1540s. However, it was likely to have previously been in possession of the O’Maddens whose east Galway lordship once extended into the north of Ormond and the parish of Lusmagh beyond. They seem to have lost this territory in the 1440s and it would appear that the sept of O’Kennedy Roe came into possession of the castle around that time.
The Mac Egans were a prominent bardic family in their day, and they were one of only seven Irish families to practice the ancient Brehon Law. Of these seven, five served just one ruling family, one served five senior lords, and members of the Mac Egan clan served as the chief advisors to all of the remaining thirteen lords and chieftains. The position of the “Brehon” was one of great importance. They served as a kind of first minister for their master, functioning as his chief advisors on legal matters as well as those of a more general nature. In addition, they served as ambassadors and negotiators, brokering deals and treaties between the feudal lords of medieval Ireland. As such, they were widely respected and were treated as neutrals in any conflicts. There is only one medieval record of a Brehon being killed by an Irish chief, and even that was a case of mistaken identity. Finally, the Brehons sat in judgement on the Brehon courts, which ran in conflict with the English Common Law system which was theoretically the one and only legal system.“
The website gives us more information about Brehon Law.
“Redwood Castle was originally constructed around 1210 by an Anglo-Norman family by the name of De Cougan. Redwood’s strategic position was of the utmost importance owing to its close proximity to the River Shannon. The Anglo-Normans made several attempts to cross the Shannon and administer the west of Ireland, but none were successful enough to allow the invaders to settle on a permanent basis. As a result, the Anglo-Normans faced the constant danger of being attacked themselves from across the Shannon, leading to a long line of castles and towerhouses being constructed along its eastern bank. The original structure here at Redwood was only two storeys tall, and there were no entrances or exits here on the ground floor for security reasons. The original doorway would have been on the second floor, accessible by a retractable ladder. The main entrance you see today dates from the mid-1300s. For many years ivy covered all of the castle except this doorway, and so a lot of tourist material still mistakenly dates the entire castle from this period.
The De Cougans eventually vacated Redwood, and the castle was granted to the O’Kennedy family in 1350. It was then that the other floors were added to the castle. The local branch of the O’Kennedy family were based in Lackeen Castle, approximately 3 miles south of here, and so they turned this castle over to their chief bardic family, the Mac Egans. The bardic families played a crucial role in medieval Ireland, serving Gaelic chieftains and English lords alike. They fulfilled many functions, including those of advisors, administrators, lawyers, musicians, poets, physicians and ambassadors. However, each individual family tended to specialise in just one or two specific areas of study. The Mac Egans of Redwood were experts in historical study and the practice of the ancient Irish Brehon law. Only seven families in medieval Ireland practised and studied this ancient legal system. Most of these served only one master, whilst the Mac Egans served at least thirteen lords and chieftains, giving them a virtual monopoly over medieval Irish law. They founded a school of history and law here at Redwood, and some of Ireland’s foremost medieval thinkers had close links to this centre. Michael O’Cleary led a team of historians which compiled the famous Annals of the Four Masters, an enormous and comprehensive text which gave an account of all recorded Irish history up until the early seventeenth century. Upon its completion, Michael O’Cleary brought the text to some of the most influential men in the country, including the Archbishop of Dublin and the Bishop of Tuam. However, the first approval he sought was from a Flann Mac Aoghain, one of his former teachers and the lord of Redwood Castle.
However, by this time, Redwood Castle had reached its apex, and its decline began with a tide of political and religious unrest which culminated with Oliver Cromwell’s invasion of Ireland in 1649. The development of artillery effectively ended the reign of castles and towerhouses in Ireland, which had previously only had to deal with the occasional uprising by poorly armed peasants. Nearby Lackeen Castle was forfeited to Cromwell’s troops in 1653, whilst records of 1654 state that by that date, the castle at Redwood was nothing more than a ruin. It therefore seems likely that Redwood was besieged sometime in 1653. There are no obvious signs of damage from heavy artillery on the outside of the castle, and therefore it seems likely that the castle was forfeited without a fight once the Mac Egans saw what they were facing. Whatever the circumstances of the castle’s seizure, we do know that once it was in the possession of Cromwell’s troops, it was fired and practically burnt to the ground. The roof and most of the floors were wooden, and so only the walls and the spiral stone stairway were left standing.
The castle remained in ruins for over 300 years. At the turn of the twentieth century, a local farmer cut a second opening into the ground floor, just wide enough to let through a horse and cart which could be sheltered from the elements under the stone-barred vaulted arch. It is believed that it took three men a fortnight to cut through the 11 foot thick western wall. In 1972, a lawyer from Castlebar, County Mayo by the name of Michael Egan bought Redwood Castle and undertook its restoration. He was a descendant of the Mac Egans of Redwood, and so was determined to restore his family seat to its former glory. The government refused to support the project with any grants, believing the ruins to be beyond redemption. Michael Egan therefore funded the entire restoration project out of his own pocket. His ultimate goal was to have the castle as a second family home, which could also be used for important family occasions. To avoid tax burdens, the castle was opened to the public for sixty days a year as a site of historical interest, beginning in the early 1980s.
To this day, Redwood Castle continues to host the Clan Egan Rallies, and to educate the public.“
13. Roscrea Castle and Damer House, County Tipperary
contact: Jim Gilligan Tel: 086-2539187 Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, Aug 13-21, 12 noon-4pm Fee: adult €6, OAP/student€3, child €2
The National Inventory tells us: “Detached nine-bay two-storey former charter school with projecting pairs of end bays, built 1747, with projecting barrel-roofed porch addition…Patronised by Sir Charles Moore and John Dawson, this former charter school retains much of its original form and is a notable feature in the urban landscape. In the nineteenth century it was occupied by Charles Bianconi, who ran a coach transport enterprise throughout Ireland from his headquarters in Clonmel. It displays evidence of fine stonework in the window surrounds and eaves course which contrast with the limestone of the walls to enliven and offer textural variety to the façade.“
“Ashley Park House has a magical quality that is particularly appealing. The avenue winds along the shore, through deep woods of oak and beech, until–suddenly–you reach the Georgian house, surrounded by tall trees, with beautiful views over a private lake. Inside, the rooms are large, comfortable and well equipped so offering a truly relaxing break away from the busyness of modern life.
The owners, Margaret & David McKenzie run their home in a relaxed and informal way in the style of the traditional Irish country house, ideal for family and friends taking a break to celebrate a special occasion. Guests like nothing more than losing themselves in the woods and gardens, or rowing around the lake and exploring the ruins of the ancient fort on the island.
Ashley Park House sits peacefully in the middle of 76 acres of beech woodland and formal gardens in the heart of County Tipperary, in the centre of Ireland six miles north of the busy market town of Nenagh with its famous circular keep, on the road to Borrisokane and Birr. This beautiful 18th century country house, with its sweeping Edwardian verandas overlooking the lake, is approached through a rusticated stone arch, down a long tree-lined avenue with lovely views across Lough Ourna (‘the lake of the barley’), framed by ancient ring-forts on the shore, towards Keeper Hill in the distance
Ashley Park House retains many of its original Georgian fittings and has been faithfully restored to its original appearance, with fine period furniture and all modern comforts, giving visitors the opportunity to appreciate truly authentic Irish country house accommodation. The main rooms are spacious and relaxing, while the large bedrooms either overlook the lake in front, or have views over a series of walled courtyards at the rear where there are hens, ducks and peafowl. Recent renovations have created stylish new rooms in the Coach Houses next to the main house where modern comforts link with traditional styling.
Ashley Park House has a fantastic in house culinary team who prepare delicious suppers using fresh local ingredients to the highest standard. Enjoy a romantic break away with four course dinner in the Main House dining room overlooking the lake and then move into the luxurious drawing room to enjoy a digestif from the residents bar. Wake up refreshed to enjoy a delicious breakfast, which is Highly Recommended by the Georgina Campbell Irish Breakfast Awards.“
2. Ballinacourty House, Co Tipperary – guest house and restaurant€
“Mary and family look forward to welcoming you to Ballinacourty House. Whether you are coming to explore the local walking or hiking that Aherlow has to offer, visiting the ancient historical sites of Tipperary, or perhaps just passing through on a flying visit- you will be most welcome in our home.
We strive to ensure that your stay in the Glen of Aherlow is a memorable one. We offer our Guests comfortable overnight accommodation, hearty home-cooked breakfasts and personal attention, offering local expertise if required, all part of the unique Irish Home B&B experience you will receive at Ballinacourty House.“
“Birdhill House & Gardens offers the ultimate mix of homeliness and grandeur. The perfect place to reflect and re-energize. Enjoy the welcoming warmth of this mid 1700’s Georgian country house. Nestled in the Suir valley with panoramic views of Knockmealdown and Comeragh mountains.
Explore the tranquil and breathtaking beauty of the gardens. Take the time to relax on one of the many terraces. Sip a glass of wine or dine al fresco around the fire pit. If you feel like a little exercise you might stroll along the river bank, be tempted to take out the rowing boat/kayak. Or maybe enjoy an energetic game of tennis. On a chilly day sit by a roaring fire in the drawing room or gather friends and family around the kitchen table to play games. Hide away in the library for a quiet read surrounded by relaxed elegance. Retire to the delightfully decorated bedrooms and snuggle down for sweet dreams, but be warned: the morning chorus here at Birdhill House & Gardens is quite spectacular. Oh! And watch out for Millie and her daughter Hettie, the sweetest of dogs.
Birdhill House and Gardens offers guests luxury accommodation with the option to add breakfast and dinner if you wish.
The west wing of the house also can be exclusively rented where guests can enjoy the freedom of self-catering and is an ideal house for family breaks. Contact the house directly to check availability for the exclusive rental of Birdhill House & Gardens.”
“Cahir House Hotel is a Historical Town House and the leading hotel in Cahir, County Tipperary. This former manor house offers luxury hotel accommodation in Cahir and is the ideal base for your hotel break in the South East of Ireland.
Situated centrally in Cahir, Co. Tipperary, with views of Cahir Castle, Cahir Main Square. Cork, Waterford & Shannon Airport and Cities such as Kilkenny, Cork, Waterford, Limerick, a mere 1 hour drive away.
Cahir House Hotel is the perfect location at the crossroads to the south.“
The National Inventory tells us that it was built c. 1770: “This impressive townhouse, designed by William Tinsley on a prominent corner site, which became the residence of the Earls of Glengall when the family ceased to live in Cahir Castle [The first Earl of Glengall was the 10th Baron Cahir, Richard Butler (1775-1819). He married Emilia Jefferyes, daughter of James St. John Jefferyes of Blarney Castle]. Although it has undergone many alterations and a change of use, it retains much character and interesting fabric, such as the stone to the window and door dressings.“
5. Cashel Palace Hotel, Cashel, County Tipperary – €€€
The website tells us it is: “A Palladian manor, in the heart of Ireland, Cashel Palace is a luxury hideaway, meticulously restored and exquisitely reimagined. Spectacularly located by the Rock of Cashel in picturesque Co. Tipperary, the hotel is enveloped in nature and overlooked by ancient history.“
The website tells us of the history:
“Built in 1732, as the home of Church of Ireland Archbishop Theophilus Bolton, Cashel Palace was designed by the eminent architect Sir Edward Lovett Pearce. Lovett Pearce was one of the most celebrated architects of the time, and would go on to design Dublin’s impressive Parliament House – now the Bank of Ireland in College Green.
Palladian in style, Cashel Palace’s handsome red brick facade contrasts with its limestone rear. While the rear façade mirrors the front, the use of different materials makes it exceptionally rare for this period. Carved limestone dressings enhance the house’s symmetry, with the triple-opening Venetian – or Serlian – windows a typical feature of the Palladian style.
If you look closely at the front elevation, you will spot a crowned harp over the entrance. A fire mark issued by the Hibernian Insurance Company of Dublin, they were in business from 1771 to 1839 and were the first company in Ireland to offer fire insurance.
No expense was spared in the Palace’s construction, with dozens of skilled craftsmen hired to complete the ornate and capacious interiors. Thanks to generations of mindful custodians, many of the house’s original features were well preserved. Described as ‘a place of notable hospitality’ in Loveday’s Tour of 1732, it is clear the residents enjoyed the finest comforts of the day.
The large entrance hall retains its original wood panelling, and two imposing fluted Corinthian columns. Off the hall, stands the remarkable staircase, an early Georgian style carved from red pine and featuring hundreds of intricately hand-turned ‘barley sugar’ banisters.
Photograph from Mark Bence-Jones, A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988).
Occupying 25 acres, with an impressive driveway and gardens, a private walkway, ‘The Bishops Walk’ was constructed, to give residents private access to the Rock of Cashel, ancient seat of the Kings of Munster and home to a 13th century Cathedral. Cashel Palace was not impervious to political upheaval, and suffered damage during the turbulent Wolfe Tone Rebellion of 1798. The 1st Earl of Normanton, then Archbishop of Cashel, oversaw the room repairs, with the modifications reflecting the fashionable Regency style of the time.
To the rear of the Palace beautiful gardens were planted, including two ancient mulberry trees. Predating the house, these striking trees stand tall today, planted in 1702 to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Anne.
During the construction and excavation the builders stumbled upon the opening of an ancient well. Perfectly formed and completely intact, the 15-foot well was historically used to provide water to the Main House of the Cashel Palace during the period when the Archbishops occupied the house from the 1730’s to the 1900’s.
Every period house in this time had a land agent who would brew beer for the owners, and it was Richard Guinness, who was the land agent for Archbishop Arthur Price, who used hops from the Palace Garden and water from this well to brew ale for Cashel Palace. His son Arthur Guinness, who was the Archbishop’s godson, was left £100 in his godfather’s will – the same £100 he used to secure the lease on the site of St. James’s Gate brewery in Dublin. This same well can be seen in The Glass Well at our sister property, Mikey Ryan’s Bar & Kitchen adjacent to the hotel.
101 years after it was built, the last Archbishop left Cashel Palace. In 1833, under the Church Temporalities Act, the dioceses of Cashel and Emly were merged with Waterford and Lismore. This act saw the then present resident, Archbishop Richard Lawrence, relocate to Waterford, where he and future successors would make their home. Without an Archbishop in residence, Cashel Palace was divided for use by the Dean of Cashel and a Canon of the Church of Ireland.
For more than 200 years, the Palace had found itself at the heart of religious life, hosting many powerful families and their guests. That all changed in 1959, when the Church of Ireland sold Cashel Palace to Lord Brockett, a man of some means. Opened as a luxury hotel in May 1962, Lord Brockett also owned the Wicklow Hotel in Dublin and Benner’s Hotel in Tralee at the time.
Over the years, Cashel Palace hosted many glamorous guests, including Jacqueline Kennedy, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Ronald Reagan, Diana Spencer and Prince Joachim of Denmark.
The hotel has enjoyed a long association with the horse-racing community and was once owned by the legendary horse trainer Vincent O’Brien before being sold to local entrepreneurs Pat and Susan Murphy who took stewardship and operated the hotel until its closure in 2014.
Then, in 2016, the iconic house was purchased by the Magnier Family, also owners of Coolmore, the world’s largest and most successful thoroughbred breeding operation. Since then, the house as undergone an incredible transformation which will see it transformed a magnificent five-star Relais & Châteaux property.
The doors of Cashel Palace opened more on 1st March 2022 after a long slumber, ready to welcome guests from across the globe, thus ushering in a new era in the legacy of a building already steeped in such incredible history.“
“Crocanoir is a home away from home tucked away down a leafy boreen. This beautifully restored house offers a truly relaxing holiday where hospitality and a traditional Irish experience is offered in abundance. It enjoys stunning views of Slievenamon mountain and there are lovely countryside walks only a stroll from the doorstep. Guests are welcome to wander the woodland paths and leave the world behind. The Old House has oodles of character and is ideal for large families or groups of friends.“
8. Dundrum House, County Tipperary – hotelis temporarily closed but there are self-catering cottages. €€
The Inventory tells us it is a Palladian-style seven-bay three-storey country house over half-basement, built c.1730, third storey being possibly an addition requiring removal of pediment c.1890. Three-bay breakfront and single-bay single-storey over half-basement links to similar flat-roof wings and having U-plan perron at ground floor reached by cut limestone curving staircases with cast-iron railings.
An elegant classically-proportioned building, the house retains much of its original character and form, and remains substantially intact within its demesne. The site is historically and socially important as the seat of the O’Dwyer family, who were dispossessed during the era of Cromwellian confiscation, and subsequently the Maude family, who built this house. The Maudes rose to great eminence attaining ranks of Viscounts Hawarden and Earls of Montalt. As principal landowners in the area, they were generous benefactors of Dundrum village in the mid-nineteenth century.
“Lissanisky House is a listed Irish Georgian country house just outside Nenagh in Tipperary, Ireland. Built in approx. 1770 on the site of the 12th century O’Meara castle, it boasts a pedimented breakfront, five bays and three storeys over the basement. It is also renowned for its glorious cobweb fanlight above the front door. It was once a huge estate, but this was carved up by the land commission and now retains 10 acres of the original grounds, including the Victorian walled garden. The trees planted in the walled garden are still producing the tastiest apples, pears, quinces, plums and hazelnuts. If you’re around at the right time, you’ll get to enjoy one of our scrumptious homemade apple and toffee puddings with fresh cream. Delicious!
The house itself is full of history, with some interesting previous owners, like Dr Barry O’Meara, Napoleon’s doctor in St Helena and author of the definitive book on Napoleon, ‘Napoleon in Exile’; The Hon Otway Fortescue Graham-Toler, son of the second Earl of Norbury and relation of John Toler, the infamous ‘hanging judge’ and R Smithwick who is believed to be of the Kilkenny brewing family. We also recently discovered that former owners, the Cleeve family, were related to a member of the Guinness brewing family via the matriarch Heath Otway Waller of Priory Park.
We fell in love with Lissanisky House and made it our joint life goal to ensure that it would be restored to its full potential and secure it for future generations. By staying with us in our bed and breakfast or celebrating your wedding here, you are helping to fund all future restoration work to the house and outbuildings, making a huge contribution to the preservation of such an important building.“
10. Hotel Minella, Clonmel, County Tipperary €
Hotel Minella, Clonmel Co Tipperary, photograph Courtesy Tipperary County Council 2022.
The National Inventory tells us it is a five-bay two-storey over basement country house with three-bay entrance breakfront, three-bay side elevations and having bowed end bays to rear, built 1863. Now in use as hotel, with later three-bay flat-roofed porch. Built for the Malcolmson family by J.S Mulvany, this neo-classical house is located on a fine site on the banks of the River Suir. Its form is enhanced by well-crafted decoration such as the window surrounds, balustrade and channelling and by the retention of features such as the timber sash windows and timber panelled door. It forms a group with the similarly executed gate lodge and well-crafted boundary walls and piers.
11. Raheen House Hotel, Clonmel, County Tipperary €€
“Raheen House Hotel is one of the leading hotels in the vibrant town of Clonmel, County Tipperary. This captivating hotel, with a history dating back to the 17th century, offers visitors the opportunity to relax and luxuriate in exquisite surroundings.
The Hotel offers 15 elegant bedrooms within the tranquillity of its own 3.5 acre gardens. The refinement extends throughout the whole house; have a drink in front of the open fire in the bar, take afternoon tea in the sumptuous Drawing Room or enjoy a delicious formal dinner in our restaurant.”
“The tranquil atmosphere at present day Raheen House Hotel belies a turbulent and violent history that spans over nine centuries.The annals of the area stretches from the early thirteenth century to modern day times whilst the house can be chronicled to the middle of the 17th century.
The earliest grantee of the land was William Fitz Adelm, Lord Lieutenant under King Henry the Second, who was granted the “Golden Vale from Cashel to Limerick and the alluvial districts from Clonmel to Carrick in 1220. His property then passed to his son Baron de Burgh [Richard, died abt. 1243], who is largely responsible for founding the town of Clonmel and whose descendants retained commercial interests in the town for generations.
Political upheaval over the intervening years meant that by 1650 ownership of the land was with the Earl of Ormond. It is in connection with the Earl that we find one of the earliest mentions of the name Raheen, though it was spelled “Rahines” during this time. The name is thought to mean ” Little Fort” a combination of “Rath” being fort and the diminutive “een”.
As Ireland was a subject of Great Britain, any political changes there were reflected here, thus, when the monarchy was overthrown, with the execution of King Charles the First, and Cromwell came to power this had a dramatic affect on the history of Raheen. It is thought that it was during the rule of Cromwell that the original Raheen House was built. It is believed that Col Solomon Richards [1636-1691] was the builder of the first house, which still stands today and shows many architectural features of that era. It is estimated that the house was built between 1652 -1654.
Col Richards was a prominent member in Cromwell’s army and sat on his War Council. He was appointed Commissioner of Revenue at Clonmel on December 25th 1652. By April 1655 he was appointed Governor of Clonmel. He operated out of Raheen House in his role of Revenue Commissioner. A daughter of Colonel Richards, Elizabeth, went on to marry Capt. Samuel Foley who had a registered interest in the property of the Revenue Commissioners. Indeed, one of his own grandchildren, Charles Blount held the office of Revenue Commissioner under the reign of King Charles the Second. The descendants of Colonel Solomon Richards produced branches of the Foley, Oliver and Dominick families. In fact his great, great, granddaughter, Elizabeth Dominick became Lady St. George, a peer of the Realm when her husband, St.George Ussher was named Baron St.George in 1773 by King George the Third. It is this king who purchased present day Buckingham Palace.
The Georgian addition to Raheen House was constructed in the early 1840’s and as was common practise at the time it was built adjoining the original Cromwellian structure. The 19th century owners of the house, the Greer family put the house for sale in 1878 for £55 when the legal owner, William Greer, was declared insane.
Another military element was again associated with Raheen House when Col E George Cobden took ownership of the house. As nobility, the Colonel was part of the ruling class in post-famine Clonmel and he was an Ex-Officio Guardian on the Board of Guardians for the Union (workhouse) as well as a Magistrate.
Trouble came to Raheen House in July 1914 due to Cobden’s connection with the house. His son George E Cobden, Jnr, was one of the officers at the Bachelors Walk massacre in Dublin where three people were killed and 38 injured. It is thought he was the officer who gave the order that resulted in these deaths. Nationwide outrage at the slaughter was mirrored locally and an angry mob descended on Raheen House, still home to Cobden Snr, where a violent riot erupted. Fortunately, there were no deaths as a result of the incident.
In more recent times Raheen House was the home of Clonmel senator, Denis E Burke, a Fine Gael politician who held two terms in the 1960’s. The public park opposite Raheen House was named after the late politician.
The current owners, Elizabeth and John Day, purchased the house in 1988 from the Burke family. After raising their three daughters, Catherine, Lois and Orla, in the house they decided, in 1996, to establish Raheen House as a hotel. The house, including the gate lodge at the entrance, opened its doors as a hotel to the delight of the public. The hotel underwent an extensive re-vamp of both the interior décor and the grounds in 2014, and rightly holds the position of one of the finest manor hotels in Ireland.”
contact: Richard Fahey Tel: 087-2601994 (Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: May 1-Oct 31
The National Inventory describes the house: “A substantial former rectory with an attractive bowed bay which dominates the principal elevation and creates interest in an otherwise austere design. The placement of the entrance doorway in an end elevation is unusual. Of significance also is the range of outbuildings to the north, with an attractive arched entrance and retaining much interesting fabric.” 
Whole house rental County Tipperary
1. Bansha Castle, County Tipperary – whole house rental €€€ for 2; € for 7-16
p. 30. “(Butler/IFR) A two storey Victorian house with a round tower at one end, a square tower at the other and a gabled porch. Odd-shaped windows and a few blind loops; but no castellations or other pseudo-medieval features.”
The website tells us: “If you’ve ever dreamed of staying in an Irish castle, then 300-year old Bansha Castle is exactly what you’ve been looking for. This gracious castle with elegant period features is beautifully positioned amid mature private parkland by the Glen of Aherlow, framed by the famous Galtee mountains. Built in 1760 and recently lovingly restored to full former glory, Bansha Castle is the perfect location for a private family gathering, birthday celebration or friendly get-together.“
It tells us of the history also:
“Bansha Castle was built circa 1760 on the site of the original 11th century castle. Extensively remodelled around 1830 and also in the early 1900s, it originally consisted of a late Georgian wing attached to a medieval tower house. The castle was the home of the O’Ryan family until late 1800s, when it was acquired by the British Government as a grace and favour house for General Sir William Butler on his retirement following the Boer war.
General Butler was born in Ballycarron, about three miles from Bansha village. After joining the British Army he saw service initially in Burma and India and was subsequently posted to Canada where he was responsible for submitting the report which led to the setting up of the North Western Police- the Mounties. Although a brilliant soldier, Butler hated war. As Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in South Africa in the 1890s, he tried to dissuade the British Government from taking on the Boers, knowing it would be a long and costly war, whereas the Government thought they were only up against inexperienced farmers. In 1899 he was forced to resign having been accused of having pro-Boer sympathies. He was made the scapegoat for the bloody war which followed and suffered intense humiliation.
Butler retired to Bansha Castle and happily was able to clear his name before he died in 1910. He carried out a number of alterations to the house – removing the castellations around the roof, demolishing the early tower, and replacing it and re-roofing the house. He was buried in Kilaldriff cemetery, not far from Bansha.
If General Sir William Butler was famous then his wife, Elizabeth Thompson was equally distinguished. She became Lady Butler, The Battle Artist. Never having witnessed war at first hand, her battle scenes won her the popularity and critical success that no other female British painter has ever approached. Among her most famous paintings are The Roll Call, Scotland Forever, and The Charge. Many of her paintings were completed in Bansha Castle. She used the top room of the North tower as her studio.
She continued to live on in Bansha Castle after her husband’s death. During the troubles in 1922, the house was occupied by the IRA. In great indignation Lady Butler walked out of the house, leaving everything behind. She was never to return. It was left to her son, a colonel in the British Army, to retrieve her paintings. One of her paintings, The Camel Corp, is rumoured to have a bullet hole in it, received in Bansha Castle. She went to live with her daughter, Lady Gormanstown, at Gormanstown Castle where she died in 1932. An account of this episode can be read in her book A Little Kept.
Bansha Castle then became the property of Mr.Tom Givens, retired Chief of Police in Shanghai, before it was acquired in the early fifties by Dr.James Russell He ran it as a stud farm and bred the famous 1970s racehorse Rheingold on the lands. In 1975 there was a major fire and the house was closed for a number of years.
In 1982 John and Teresa Russell decided to renovate the house to provide luxury accommodation in Ireland. As can be observed, this renovation has become an ongoing labour of love.“
2. Clonacody House, County Tipperary – whole house
“Clonacody has six spacious bedrooms, all boasting genuine antique interiors. Expect the good-old fashioned hospitality of the bygone days, curious family history, artwork and photographs to pour over. Curl up on our squishy sofas with a good book while enjoying an open fire on our ground floor, or have a bath beside an open window taking in the glorious surrounding views of Co. Tipperary’s mountains for endless relaxation. All include quality bedlinen, towels and toiletries.“
The website tells us: “Cloughjordan House has a variety of colourful accommodation options for guests. There is on-site accommodation for up to 86 guests. The attention to detail leaves each finished room with a sense of its own personality and flair, meaning every lodger has a unique experience of the venue. The bathrooms are stocked with The Handmade Soap Company toiletries and the property is littered with Nespresso machines so that guests can take a break during their stay to sit back and smell the coffee.“
“There are four double bedrooms with ensuites in the beautifully elegant main house. The bedrooms have all the glamour of period features but with modern adjustments for a more comfortable stay. Guests staying here are steeped in luxury with; super king sized beds, crisp Egyptian Cotton sheets, soft cashmere blankets from Hanly Woollen Mills and under floor heating in the bathrooms. They also have use of the sitting room in the main house for relaxing and tea/coffee facilities with homemade cookies. Sleeps 8.“
“There are two double bedrooms with ensuites above the cookery school in the Coach House. These rooms are an extension of the accommodation available in the main house. Guests have access to the living rooms there for relaxation. This building was originally a store for horse-drawn carriages, hence its name The Coach House. Sleeps 4.
There are four double bedrooms with ensuites located in the Dairy. The structure was the original milking parlour for 150 dairy cows which is why each room; Daisy, Bluebell, Buttercup and Primrose are named after the animals. The décor here is rustic with unique features making use of Cloughjordan farm wood and other farmyard materials like galvanised sheeting. The beds are traditional farm structures with super comfortable mattresses. The handcrafted nature of these rooms means you are guaranteed to have never stayed anywhere like this. Sleeps 8.
There are 18 bedrooms with ensuites located in the Cowshed. The bedrooms are farmyard inspired with wood used from the Cloughjordan House forest and wooden sinks and rugs from South Africa, where both Sarah and Peter love spending time. The beds are large and luxurious and the showers are powerful. The common room is like something out of a novel, spacious and bright with an Argentinian feel. The veranda opens out onto the property with big, comfortable couches complete with blankets for the ultimate in chilling-out and when the sun is shining this is the best spot in the house (or shed)! Sleeps 45.
The glamping area in the walled garden has 11 newly arrived wooden “pod” cabins offering Scandinavian comfort and style. Mattresses and bedding are the same as any of the other rooms in the house. In order to keep our guest’s stay as premium as possible, we have built a Pamper Room so that ladies can get ready in comfort for the day ahead. This Girlie Room is bright and spacious and comes complete with mirrors and plugs for appliances. Glamping guests have access to The Cowshed lounge for relaxing and chilling-out. Sleeps 22.
4. Inch House, Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland– whole house rental €€€ for 2; €€ for 7-10
“The Egan Family are proud owners of Inch House since 1985. The family bought the house & farm that surrounds it with no idea as to the real treasure that lay inside this Georgian mansion. John, a farmer, and Nora, a nurse, along with their eight children have worked tirelessly to bring their dreams for Inch House to fruition and opened their home to guests in 1989 following a major restoration project.
Having run an award winningrestaurant for some 25 years since then, John and Nora now embark on a new journey and for the first time this year are offering their magnificent house to holiday makers for their exclusive hire. this is an exciting new venture for the Egans’ and given their extensive experience in the hospitality and food sector they aim to bring their experience into this new venture and bring their plans to fruition.
Inch House was built in 1720 by John Ryan [1692-1723] on the site of a previous structure. John, who had inherited extensive lands from his father, Daniel, married Frances Mary Mathew of Thurles in 1723. Frances was daughter of George Mathew, and granddaughter of Lady Thurles (1587-1673), formerly Elizabeth Poyntz.
Lady Thurles was married twice, firstly to Thomas Butler, Viscount Thurles (who, had he lived would have succeeded to the Earldom of Ormonde), and secondly to George Mathew. Her eldest son by the Butler marriage was the remarkable James, 1st Duke of Ormonde and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Her daughter was an ancestor of the late Princess of Wales. The descendants of her Mathew alliance were equally notable for they included the saintly Nano Nagle, Foundress of the Presentation Sisters in the 18th Century.
Nano Nagle was a daughter of Garnet Nagle and Anne Mathew granddaughter of Thomas Mathew of Anfield, a mere stone’s throw from the Ryan seat at Inch. The Capuchin priest, Rev. Theobald Mathew, the renowned “Apostle of Temperance” also descended from this Stock.
Ryans of Inch were one of the few landed Catholic families in Tipperary and in the late 18th Century and owned up to 5,000 acres of land. Inch remained the property of the Ryan family until 1985 when it was sold to the present owners, John and Nora Egan.“
5. Killaghy Castle, Mullinahone, Tipperary– whole house rental €€€ for 2; € for 11-14
p. 169. “An old tower-house of the Tobin family, with a two storey five bay C19 castellated wing attached. Doorway with segmental pointed arch, mullioned windows with hood mouldings, bartizan. Forfeited by the Tobins 1653, passed to the Greene family, from whom it passed through marriage to the Despards; it was garrisoned by Lieut Despard 1798. It then passed by inheritance to the Wright family, by whom it was sold. Since then, it has been owned successively by the families of Watson, Fox, Naughton and Bradshaw.”
The National Inventory describes it: “Detached T-plan five-bay two-storey country house, built c.1760, façade remodelled and octagonal turret added to southwest corner c.1825, and having four-storey tower house, built c.1550, adjoining to east. Lower two-storey extension to north gable of return. Adjoining outbuildings to rear….The turret, crenellations and label-mouldings applied to this building are a witty reference to the original defensive nature of the tower house to which it has been added. This combination of structures of various eras is familiar in large rural houses in Ireland. The later parts form an interesting horizontal counterpoint to the very tall tower house. The house forms an interesting group with the outbuildings and walled garden. “
6.Kilshane, Tipperary, Co Tipperary – whole house rental for weddings.
p. 299. “(Low/LGI1912) A Classical house of ca 1830; two storey, 6 bay front with single storey Ionic portico; solid roof parapet with central die. A very large and handsome conservatory with curvilinear roofs, in the style of th Dublin ironmasters Richard and William Turner, was added to one end of the house ca 1880; it has an interior of cast-iron columns supporting delicate fan-like arches with. Central fountain. The seat of the Low family; afterwards owned by a religious order, which made some institutional additions to the house. Now owned by Mr and Mrs Ian Horst.“
The National Inventory tells us this impressive country house was built by the architect C.F. Anderson for John Lowe.
7. Kilteelagh House, Dromineer, Lough Derg, County Tipperary– whole house €€€ for 2; €€ for 10-12
p. 176. “(Gason/IFR) A house rebuilt in High Victorian style 1863 by Lt-Col W.C. Gason. Two storey; steep gables with bargeboards; rectangular plate glass windows and large two storey Perpendicular window in centre. High-pitched polychrome roof. Fine demesne along the shore of Lough Derg. Sold 1962 by Col A.W. Gason to Lt-Col J.A. Dene.”
8. Lisheen Castle, Thurles, County Tipperary€€€ for two, € for 11-14
The entry tells us: “In 1996, Michael and Joan undertook the complete restoration and renovation of the Castle, their son Zane now runs and manages the castle since 2009. This has been a real labour of love for them, as they have a wonderful appreciation of history and things beautiful. It was specially pleasing to Michael and Joan that all the craftsmen needed to carry our this momentous task were available locally. They have left no stone unturned to ensure that Lisheen Castle would be restored to its former glory, a residence fit for a Lord.
During your Irish castle vacation you will enter the beautiful hallway, through the Great Oak Door,you will be immediately impressed by the opulance of the diningroom, reception rooms and library. At the end of the long corridor visitors will see a beautiful Ash Carved Stairs. Upstairs, there are currently 9 luxury bedrooms, 8 of which are en-suite. While the emphasis in Lisheen Castle is historical, the facilities are up to today’s standard with wi-fi and pc/printer available for use by the guests.
One of the two kitchens is fully fitted to the highest catering standard. Of interest to the guests will be the “old-style kitchen”, which is furnished with pine furniture and terracotta floor.
Even though the Castle is centrally heated throughout, you can still experience the special ambience of the “open turf fires” which are in all the reception rooms.
Lisheen Castle is available for your Irish castle vacation on a weekly or monthly basis. So, go on, if you would like to experience the wonderful opulance of past times, while still having all the modern conveniences.“
9. Lismacue House, Bansha, Co. Tipperary – section 482, whole house rental, up to 10 people
Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 185. “[Baker/IFR] A late-Georgian house with battlements and other mild Gothic touches. 2 storeys; entrance front of three bays with Gothic porch, prolonged by lower wing ending in a gable with tracery window. Side of five bays has a battlemented pediment with pinnacles. Another pediment on the rear facade.”
The National Inventory adds: “This is an imposing and diverse country house, which has been enlivened through the addition of many Gothic-style elements. The early nineteenth-century middle wing provides a foil for the classically-designed original block, in its use of unrendered stone walls. The extensive and well-designed courtyard reflects the grandeur of this dwelling, which is set in landscaped grounds. The retention of early wallpaper to two ground floor reception rooms is an indication of the sympathetic maintenance this house receives.“
The website tells us: “Lismacue House is a Luxury Georgian Country House set in the heart of Ireland.
This is the ideal property for anyone wanting to rent a luxury home for a quiet country break.
Approached by the gracious lime tree avenue, Lismacue House looks out on the splendour of the Galtee mountains.
Standing in 200 acres of parkland with the excellent ‘Ara’ trout fishing, this is the ideal location to relax and explore the wonders of Ireland.“
The website tells us more about the history:
“The original dwelling, situated in the “Oak Paddock” had five chimneys and therefore incurred a hearth tax of 10/- according to the records of 1665.
On the 15th October, 1704 Lismacue was purchased by William Baker, ancestor of Kate Nicholson, for the sum of £923. Since then the house has been continually occupied by the family. Sir Augustine Baker, a solicitor, was President of the Incorporated Law Society in 1903. He compiled the family history in 1922, just before the Public Record Office was burned down.
The present house was completed in 1813 to the design of architect William Robertson.It is a classically proportioned Irish country house set in 200 acres and approached by one of the most impressive lime tree avenues in Ireland, planted c.1760 by Hugh Baker.
Lismacue is a beautifully maintained model of country house splendour with high ceilings and intricate plasterwork, broad staircases and gloriously stained pine floors. Differing architectural styles can be discerned between the main building, the wing and Coach House.
At the turn of the century guests were collected at Bansha railway station by trap.
The accommodation consists of a classically proportioned drawing room, dining room, breakfast room and library. The house is centrally heated throughout, with traditional warm and welcoming log fires in the reception rooms. All windows have the original pine shutters that are closed each evening.
The plasterwork in the Drawing Room is of unusual pendulous Gothic design and coupled with the gilt pelmets, mahogany doors and original wallpaper give it an air of timelessness and tranquillity.In the Dining room the elegant dining room table surrounded by the original Hicks chairs, which can seat a party of 12, is West facing thereby getting the benefit of the evening sun.
The library, overlooking the croquet lawn, contains original wallpaper, which is French in design, and is now almost two hundred years old. The architects preparatory sketches hang above the bookcase.
All bedrooms contain a King or Queen size bed and are especially designed for perfect rest. Each spacious room features antique furniture, direct dial telephones, fresh cut flowers all year round. There’s a sumptuous deep soaking bath and shower in all bathrooms. Each room enjoys panoramic views over the surrounding landscaped gardens and estate.“
 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.
Open dates in 2022: July 1-31, Aug 1-31, 9am-1pm Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €6, child free.
This is such a pretty house, a “cottage ornée,” a little like a gingerbread house! According to the Irish Historic Houses website, the Old Rectory in Killedmond, near Borris in County Carlow, is:
“a mid-19th century house in a restrained Tudor-Revival style, which looks out over the valley of the River Barrow to the Blackstairs Mountains beyond. Designed by the architect Frederick Darley for the Kavanagh family of nearby Mount Leinster Lodge, the house is an accomplished and dramatic arrangement that uses gables, dormer windows, bargeboards and finials to produce a symmetrical five-bay façade. The three central bays on the ground floor are recessed behind a glazed loggia, flanked by the end bays, which break forward and terminate in wide gables.”  
I arranged with Mary White to visit in the first week that the Covid 19 lockdown lifted. Mary and her husband Robert run a business, the Blackstairs Eco Centre, from their home, as can be seen on the lovely wooden sign outside their gates. They have four sweet “shepherds huts” for overnight stays, and hold tree trail walks and wild food courses on the property. 
In the article in the Irish Times which first prompted me to embark on the project of visiting Section 482 houses, there was a picture of Mary swimming in her own lake. That to me looked like heaven. We had a few minutes to wander in the gardens around the house before we met Mary so I was delighted to find and photograph the small lake, which is fed by mountain streams. It lies in front of the house.
One can walk all around the lake, and cross the stream on one of the several small granite bridges.
We were greeted warmly by Mary. We walked around the gardens before entering the house.
Mary and her husband moved into the property about forty years ago, and have done massive amounts of work on the garden (and on the house). On the left, when facing the house, through a lovely old arch, is a fruit garden.
On the right hand side, facing the house, toward the front of the property, is a vegetable growing area complete with a wonderful large polytunnel.
I have an allotment so Mary and I bonded swapping notes on our vegetable production. Their production is all organic and they even use a “vegan” manure! I had to think hard to picture what that must be – no animals involved of course!
The trees near the vegetable growing area can be identified by the time they were planted. In forty years, the Whites have built up an interesting tale in their trees. One was a wedding present. One was planted when their daughter was born. Another is the “election tree” when Mary was elected to be a Green TD in government.
Beyond the vegetable garden, the shepherds huts sit dotted carefully around a lawn, each positioned in such a way that their windows don’t look into another hut so each is supremely peaceful and private.
The website describes the huts:
“The Shepherds Huts are centrally heated and very cozy with a double bed in each – suitable for two. Each Hut has three windows including a half door to look out onto a completely natural wooded area set beneath the Blackstairs Mountains. All you will hear is the soft cooing of wood pigeons!”
We peered into one, which was prepared to receive guests at the weekend, and it looked lovely. You can see photographs of the interior of the huts on the website. [see 3] It is a short distance to the barn, which is also a protected historic structure but which has been fully adapted for use as a kitchen, toilets, sitting room and demonstration area for wild food preparation. It has been carefully refurbished maintaining historic structure, with recycled materials, natural wooden furniture, cedar doors and ecological heating and electricity, which also provide the house.
The Barn is separated from the house by a cobble courtyard. The guests also have use of an outdoor eating and barbeque area:
I had to stop to have a go on the swing, hanging from a large beech tree.
We definitely want to return to stay in one of the huts, and to walk the Celtic tree trail. The property has an example of each of the 21 trees native to Ireland. The sculpture of an ogham stone, by sculptor Martin Lyttle , has the cut line lettering representing each type of native Irish tree. As part of the Tree Trail we will get to see the sixteen minute film that has been made about the trees on the property.
Ogham is the earliest form of writing in Ireland and dates to the fourth century A.D. The alphabet is made up of a series of strokes along or across a line. The letters each relate, also, to a species of tree. The letters were carved on standing stones often as a memorial to a person, using the edge of the stone as a central line. The letters are read from the bottom up. 
We noticed the electric car charger near the barn when wandering the gardens:
I was also thrilled to see a solar panel array in a field:
Mary and her husband cultivated a rose garden, surrounded by a small canal, forming a “parterre” or patterned garden.
In the rose garden, we admired the sculpture of Dionysus, sculpted by her friend in college, Alice Greene, and presented to Mary as a birthday gift. 
The property contains wooded area with walking trails, which we didn’t explore as it was rainy and we were heading to my cousin’s house nearby for lunch!
According to the Irish Historic Houses website:
“Two other fronts are virtually identical, with the exception of a half-octagonal bay window on the Eastern side, while the vertically paired windows, culminating in a series of matching gables, create an illusion of symmetry that is greatly enhanced by a profusion of plants and creepers on the walls. Their openings all have simple chamfered granite dressings while the sash windows retain their heavy mullions and delicate marginal glazing bars.” [note: “chamfered” means an edge between two faces, usually at a 45 degree angle.] 
The Whites carried out extensive repairs on the house over the years. The wooden bargeboards and finials were rotting and had to be repaired. The house was completely reroofed with expensive blue Bangor slates. The windows have thirty six panes, and when windows were repaired the original glass was retained. Mary pointed out where someone has scratched their name onto the window pane – there was a tradition of scratching names into glass in the past, and Mary dates this scratch to about 1905. It reads “W. Pennyfeather” and “Nicholas Pennyfeather.” Nicholas was rector of the parish from 1900 and lived in the house. I have come across several occasions of scratching names on window panes in my reading, and saw a short film that refers to the tradition, “Words on a Window Pane,” by Mary McGuckian, made in 1994, an adaptation of a play by W.B. Yeats about Dublin spiritualists visited by the ghosts of Jonathan Swift and the two women associated with him, Vanessa (Esther Vanhomrigh) and Stella (Esther Johnson).
There is a more unusual scratched illustration on the glass in a bedroom upstairs. Someone has used a diamond to carve the profile of a girl into the window, but has written “Sidney is a very ugly girl”! The girl in the portrait is not ugly though! I suspect some sister came along to mar the effect, out of jealousy, or maybe Sidney herself was feeling extremely fed-up and self-deprecating one day.
We walked back around to the front of the house, past the herbaceous border, to have a tour inside.
The Irish Historic Houses (IHH) website mentions the “loggia” at the front of the house. This is a conservatory-like structure, a Victorian sort of folly. Wikipedia describes a loggia as a covered exterior gallery or corridor, where the outer wall is open to the elements and is usually supported by a series of columns or arches. This one does not have a wall open to the elements but as described, it is not meant for an entrance but as an out-of-door sitting room. A loggia differs from a veranda in that it is more architectural in form and is part of the main edifice of the house.
According to the IHH website, the loggia is supported by cast-iron brackets on slender granite columns while the upper level of the central section is treated as an attic storey with tall, gabled dormer windows in the steeply sloping roof. The loggia, Mary told us, is wonderfully warm, and a lovely place to sit.
The house was designed by Frederick Darley (1798-1872), whose father was also an architect and builder. Frederick Darley built many buildings in Trinity College Dublin, as well as many civic and church buildings (including Lorum church, nearby ). He built New Square in Trinity, where my husband Stephen lived for a year! His father served as Alderman in Dublin and as Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1808-09. His mother Elizabeth Guinness was the eldest daughter of Arthur Guinness (1725-1803), founder of the Guinness brewery, of Beaumont House, Drumcondra (now the Beaumont Convalescent Home behind Beaumont Hospital). In 1843 Frederick Darley Junior was the Ecclesiastical Commission architect for the Church of Ireland diocese of Dublin. He was a pupil of Francis Johnston, and lived on Lower Fitzwilliam Street in Dublin. 
The house a hunting lodge for the Kavanagh family who owned nearby Mount Leinster Lodge. I haven’t been able to find out more about James Kavanagh who owned the house. In Victorian times the house became the rectory for nearby Killedmond Church but was sold in the early twentieth century. Subsequently it passed through a succession of different families. Mary told us that a former owner was a Captain Temple Bayliss, who was a Captain in the Royal Navy, with his wife Patricia and daughter, Philippa, both of whom are accomplished artists. 
The historic houses website tells us that the interior is largely original, with good joinery, chimneypieces and plasterwork, and stained glass panels in the original front door. I took a photograph of the beautiful stained glass in the door:
The front hall is floored with beautiful tiles original to the house:
The rooms are a nice size with high ceilings and the sitting room with a bay window, and plaster ceiling decoration in the form of a border with decorative rondelles. The chimneypieces are indeed lovely and as Mary pointed out, they have the traditional white for the drawing room and black for the dining room. I had never heard of that before!
The current owners have two lovely studies, with built-in bookcases and a display of books that Stephen and I admired – Mary and her husband are also book-lovers, and I admired a lovely bound set of Virginia Woolf essays.
The flagstones in the back hallway are also original, and had to be lifted to install geothermal heating.
Mary makes great use of her larder, which was a place formerly used for storing milk and butter, the flagstones keep it cool. Large saucepans hang from original hooks in the ceiling, ready for making jams and chutneys from the garden produce.
I like the style of the kitchen with repurposed cupboards discarded from a local school, and an old Aga cooker. Mary told us that the Aga company contacted her as they keep records of where they installed their cookers, and hers is rather rare. The feature that distinguishes it from less rare versions is, wonderfully, a “full stop” at the end of the warning on its lower door: “Keep tightly closed.”
We got on so well with Mary and had so much to talk about that our tour lasted for two hours! I look forward to a return visit.
Addendum: We returned in August in 2021, to stay a couple of nights in a shepherd’s hut! We stayed in the red hut.
We learned a little more about the shepherd’s huts, which Mary had custom-built, from a book left in the hut for us to read.
We met lovely people staying in the other huts – our first night, only one other hut was occupied, and the second night, a mother and daughter occupied the third hut. We enjoyed trading tips and stories when we met in the barn, for breakfast or when making our dinner. The others went cycling by the Barrow River – one can rent bikes – and also canoeing/kayaking.
From our base at Mary’s, we made trips to Kilfane gardens and waterfall and to Woodstock gardens, both in nearby County Kilkenny. I will be writing a separate entry about our trip to Kilfane, since the gardens are listed in the Revenue Section 482.
In the 1770s Sarah Ponsonby (1755-1831) lived at Woodstock with her cousins William and Betty Fownes (nee Ponsonby), when her dear friend Eleanor Butler (1739-1829) made her way here from from Borris House in Carlow and the two young women escaped their families to go to live in Wales, where they became known in literary circles as the “Ladies of Llangollen.” (see my entry on Borris House).
William Fownes had only one child, a daughter, Sarah, who married William Tighe of Rossanagh House, County Wicklow, thus Woodstock passed in to the Tighe family. William Tighe’s grandson, also named William, married Louisa Lennox, the great-niece of Louisa Lennox of Carton House, and it was she who did much work to create the gardens at Woodstock.
The gardens of Woodstock include an Arboretum of exotic trees planted in the nineteenth century. It includes Montezuma pines, California redwoods, Wellingtonia, cypresses and cedars, as well as beech, chestnut, and an avenue of monkey puzzle trees. The gradual restoration of the gardens began in 1996 under the Great Gardens of Ireland Restoration Programme.
And finally, on our last day at the Old Rectory in Killedmond, I was able to imitate the photograph that started me on this whole wonderful adventure of exploring historic houses, the photograph that was in the Irish Times of Mary White swimming in her own lake.