Places to visit and stay: Connacht: Galway and Roscommon

The five counties of Connacht are Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo.

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

Accommodation is in red. Section 482 properties are in purple.

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;

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

€€€ – over €250 per night for two.

Whole house accommodation is for more than 10 people.

Galway

1. Ardamullivan Castle, Galway – national monument, to be open to public in future – check status 

2. Ardcarrig Garden, Oranswell, Bushypark, Galway, IE 

3. Athenry Castle, County Galway  – open to public 

4. Aughnanure Castle, County Galway (OPW)

5. Castle Ellen House, Athenry, Co. Galway – section 482

6. Claregalway Castle, Claregalway, Co. Galway – section 482

7. Coole Park, County Galway – house gone but stables visitor site open

8. Gleane Aoibheann, Clifden, Galway, IE  – gardens

9. Kylemore Abbey, County Galway

10. Lisdonagh House, Caherlistrane, Co. Galway – section 482

11. The Grammer School, College Road, Galway – section 482

12. Oranmore Castle, Oranmore, Co. Galway – section 482

13. Portumna Castle, County Galway (OPW)

14. Ross, Moycullen, Co Galway – gardens open 

15. Signal Tower & Lighthouse, Eochaill, Inis Mór, Aran Islands, Co. Galway – section 482

16. Thoor Ballylee, County Galway

17. Woodville House Dovecote & Walls of Walled Garden, Craughwell, Co. Galway – section 482, garden only

Places to stay, County Galway

1. Abbeyglen Castle, Galway €€

2. Ashford Castle, Cong, Galway  – hotel €€€ 

3. Ballindooly Castle, Co Galway – accommodation 

4. Ballynahinch Castle, Connemara, Co. Galway – hotel €€€

5. Cashel House, Cashel, Connemara, Co Galway – hotel €€

6. Castle Hacket west wing, County Galway

7. Claregalway Castle, Claregalway, Co. Galway – section 482 €€

https://www.airbnb.ie/users/85042652/listings

8. Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, Co Galway – Airbnb €

9. Crocnaraw County House, Moyard, County Galway

10. Currarevagh, Oughterard, Co Galway – country house hotel €€

11. Delphi Lodge, Leenane, Co Galway €€€

12. Emlaghmore Cottage, Connemara, County Galway

13. Glenarde, Co Galway – hotel (Ardilaun House Hotel) €

14. Glenlo Abbey, near Galway, Co Galway – accommodation 

15. Kilcolgan Castle, Clarinbridge, Co Galway  

16. Lisdonagh House, Caherlistrane, Co. Galway – section 482, see above

17. Lough Cutra Castle, County Galway, holiday cottages

18. Lough Ina Lodge Hotel

19. The Quay House, Clifden, Co Galway 

20. Renvyle, Letterfrack, Co Galway – hotel

21. Rosleague Manor, Galway – accommodation 

22. Ross, Moycullen, Co Galway

23. Ross Lake House Hotel, Oughterard, County Galway 

24. Screebe House, Camus Bay, County Galway

25. Thorn Park, Oranmore, Co Galway – now the Oranmore Lodge Hotel  

Whole House Accommodation and Weddings, County Galway:

1. Cloghan Castle, near Loughrea, County Galway – whole castle accommodation and weddings, €€€ for two.

Roscommon:

1. Castlecoote House, Castlecoote, Co. Roscommon – section 482

2. Clonalis House, Castlerea, Co. Roscommon – section 482

3. King House, Main Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon – section 482

4. Shannonbridge Fortifications, Shannonbridge, Athlone, Co. Roscommon – section 482

5. Strokestown Park House, Strokestown Park House, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon – section 482

Places to stay, County Roscommon:

1. Abbey Hotel, Abbeytown, Ballypheasan, Roscommon, Co Roscommon 

2. Castlecoote, County Roscommon (also Section 482) – see above

3. Clonalis House, Castlerea, Co Roscommon – accommodation and 482 – see above

4. Edmondstown (Bishop’s Palace or St. Nathy’s), Ballaghaderreen Co Roscommon – airbnb 

5.  Kilronan Castle (formerly Castle Tenison), Ballyfarnan, County Roscommon – hotel 

Galway

1. Ardamullivan Castle, Galway – national monument, to be open to public in future – check status 

The castle is a is a restored six storey tower house. Part of the original defensive wall remains. Ardamullivan Castle was built in the 16th century by the O’Shaughnessy family. Although there is no history of the exact date of when the castle was built, it is believed it was built in the 16th century as it was first mentioned in 1567 due to the death of Sir Roger O’Shaughnessey who held the castle at the time.  

Sir Roger was succeeded by his brother Dermot, ‘the Swarthy’, known as ‘the Queen’s O’Shaughnessy’ due to his support shown to the Crown. Dermot became very unpopular among the public and even among his own family after he betrayed Dr Creagh, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, who had sought refuge in the woods on O’Shaughnessy territory.  

Tensions came to a boil in 1579, when John, the nephew of Dermot, fought with Dermot outside the south gate of the castle in dispute over possession of the castle. Both men were killed in the fight. After this period the castle fell into ruin until the last century where it was restored to its former glory.” [1]

2. Ardcarrig Garden, Oranswell, Bushypark, Galway, IE 

https://www.gardensofireland.org/directory/22/ardcarrig/

Ardcarraig is created on a rocky hillside with a natural stream, a hazel woodland, glacial boulders and has acidic soil.

Divided into 17 sections it includes water gardens, Japanese sections, dwarf conifer area and a formal herb garden.

Plants from the Asian, Australasian, American, African and European continents all thrive thanks to our high rainfall and mild winters.

3. Athenry Castle, County Galway  – open to public 

see my OPW entry: https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/02/14/office-of-public-works-properties-connacht/

4. Aughnanure Castle, County Galway (OPW)

see my OPW entry: https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/02/14/office-of-public-works-properties-connacht/

5. Castle Ellen House, Athenry, Co. Galway – section 482

contact: Míceál P. O’Cionnaith and Diarmuid
Tel: 087-2747692, 087-8137058

Eircode: H65 AX27
http://www.castleellen.ie/
Open: June 5-9, 12-16, 19-23, 26-30, July 3-7, 10-14, 17-21, 24-28, 31, Aug 7-11, 13- 25, 28-31, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, 12 noon-4pm
Fee: Free

Castle Ellen, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage [2]

Mark Bence-Jones tells us about Castle Ellen in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988) that it is a two storey five bay early to mid-C19 house with a balustraded Ionic porch and entablatures over the ground floor windows. [3]

The National Inventory adds that it is over a raised basement, built c.1840 [the website says 1810. It was probably built for Walter Peter Lambert (1757-1836)], having flat-roofed tetrasytle in antis porch to front elevation, and half-hexagonal bay to ground floor and basement of middle bay of south elevation, latter with cut limestone cornice and cast-iron parapet. (see [2]) It has “cut-stone parapets with frieze and cornice, and smooth ruled-and-lined render to ground and first floors with render quoins, and chanelled render with vermiculated quoins to basement, with cut-stone plinth course and tooled stone string course between ground floor and basement. Rubble stone walls to rear having remnants of early render, and rubble stone and brick to bow. Square-headed window openings having moulded rendered surrounds to ground and first floors, with cornices to ground, all with stone sills and one-over-one pane timber sliding sash windows. Round-headed niches to inner faces of bow. Six-over-six pane timber sliding sash windows to basement. Round-headed stair window opening to rear elevation having stone sill and fixed timber window. Round-headed openings to short sides of entrance porch having stone sills and fixed timber windows. Carved limestone Ionic columns to front of porch, flanked by square-plan Doric columns and with Doric pilasters behind and to side walls of porch, and having classical entablature, and balustrading. Square-headed door opening with carved limestone surround having timber panelled door. Stone steps leading to front entrance with retaining cut limestone walls. Property set within its own grounds and yard to rear enclosed by rubble stone garden wall. Set within its own grounds containing mediaeval ruin.

The Ionic and Doric portico and classical frieze to the parapets are evidence both of highly skilled craftsmanship in stone carving… The house was built to replace a castle on the site, and was home to the Lambert family for many generations, including Isabella Lambert, the mother of Edward Carson, the latter known as the architect of the Northern Ireland state.” (see [2])

The website tells us:

Castle Ellen was built in 1810, and was home to the Lambert family for many generations. Branches of this family lived throughout the area, and a book, “The Lamberts of Athenry” by Finbarr O’Regan was produced in conjunction with Carnaun National School. More information about this project can be found at the Carnaun School website. [4]

“The most famous member of the Lambert family was undoubtedly Edward Carson [1854-1935]. Known as the architect of Northern Ireland, his mother was Isabella Lambert [1823-1899], and young Edward spent much of his holidays in Castle, playing hurley with the local Cussaun team.

Carson went on to become Solicitor General for Ireland, then England, was knighted as Baron Carson of Duncairn, and become the leader of the Ulster Unionist party.

Before being purchased by Michael Keaney in 1974, the house was unoccupied for a number of years. During this period, it had a brief career as a school house while Carnaun National School was being refurbished in 1961. Many of the then pupils have cherished memories of attending school in Castle Ellen!

Michael is proud of Castle Ellen’s lineage, and during the summer months he runs a small museum in the house. He is conscious of the link between Castle Ellen and northern unionism, and he wrote to Sir Paddy Mayhew about this, when he was the Northern Secretary, outlining the role that Castle Ellen could play in the peace process. Sir Paddy replied, as Gaeilge,acknowledging the importance of the house.

Castle Ellen’s story continues onwards into the future, as the Keaney family, and the many visitors, create their own history with each passing year. Who knows what part Castle Ellen will have to play in the 21st Century.


Architectural Features of Castle Ellen:

  • Swept Limestone Entrance
  • Basement Wine Cellar with Brick-Arched Compartments
  • Decorative Plaster Work
  • Limestone Floor in the Basement Kitchen
  • Wide Variety of Open Fireplaces.
  • Tower Castle with Dry Moat dating to 1679
  • Livestock Tunnel under Main Avenue

Conservation is very important to Michael Keaney, and coal and oil are never used in Castle Ellen. The Irish language is another subject which is close to his heart, and he hopes that Castle Ellen can be a haven for keeping the language alive.

David Hicks tells us that the connection with Edward Carson was through his mother Isabella who met the architect Edward Henry Carson when he came to Castle Ellen to design a stable block for her father. Isabella was the daughter of Peter Fitzwalter Lambert of Castle Ellen and Eleanor Seymour of Ballymore Castle. Peter Fitzwalter died in 1844 and Castle Ellen was inherited by Isabella’s brother Walter. [5]

Hicks continues: “There is an entry in the Dictionary of Irish Architects which indicates that the architect Edward Henry Carson received a commission in 1863 to carry out extensive alterations and additions to Castle Ellen for his brother-in-law Walter Peter Lambert. Edward Henry Carson was quite accomplished in his field having designed the Colonial Building in the center of Galway city (opposite Brown Thomas today) and was also Vice-President of the Royal Institute of Irish Architects.

Despite the time that he spent in Castle Ellen with the Catholic community in his early life, his battle cry in later years was that ‘ Home Rule is Rome Rule’ as Carson wished to retain Ireland’s union with Britain. Today outside the Stormont Parliament Building near Belfast in Northern Ireland, stands a statue of Edward Carson which indicates the long shadow he still casts over Irish politics.  In June 1914, it was reported that despite his efforts in Northern Ireland, it appears that Edward Carson was still fondly thought of in Athenry, as a local Catholic farmer was heard to declare ‘Ned Carson is a decent man. I take no notice of his ranging and ranting among the Orangemen of Ulster. Sure, isn’t every successful lawyer a bit of a play actor!’. Edward Carson obviously had great affection for the maternal side of his family as when his first son was born in 1880, he was named William Henry Lambert Carson, and thus ensuring the Lambert name would be carried in to the next generation of his family.” [5]

“…Oscar Wilde and Edward Carson’s paths often appeared to have crossed many times throughout their lives. As children in Dublin their homes were located near each other, when in Galway Carson and Wilde were said to have met at Castle Ellen and then they were contemporaries in Trinity College, Dublin. However it was their most infamous encounter that has gone down in history.  In 1895, Oscar Wilde took a libel case against the Marquis of Queensbury, the Marquis was appalled at the nature of Wilde’s relationship with his son and had used a public forum to express his opinion. Wilde sued the Marquis who had chosen to be represented by Edward Carson in the trial of the century, whose every detail was picked over in the press. Caron’s skillful cross examination of Wilde, extracted all the lurid detail necessary to ensure Wilde’s case against the Marquis collapsed. Wilde was subsequently arrested and tried for gross indecency which resulted in his imprisonment and ruin. For two men who started life in similar circumstances, upon their death, one was celebrated with a state funeral and the other passed away in penury.  Wilde was released from jail in 1897 and immediately left for France where he died 3 years later, Carson’scareer flourished, he became a key figure in the politics of Northern Ireland, dying in 1935 and received a state funeral.” [5]

The Lamberts sold Castle Ellen after 1921, probably due to agrarian unrest. Hicks tells us that a friend of the family, Frank Shawe-Taylor of Castle Taylor in Ardrahan was shot in March 1920 while travelling to the fair in Galway which probably heightened the fears of the family.

Hicks writes: “In November 1921, an advertisement appeared in the national press offering Castle Ellen and 600 acres for sale by auction on the 1st December 1921 in a Dublin auction room. The house is described as having an entrance hall with double staircase, two drawing rooms with folding doors and marble chimney pieces, morning room and dining room. Also on the entry level was a butler’s pantry, gun room and store room. On the first floor were six family bedrooms, two dressing rooms, a bathroom, two lavatories and linen press.  Servant’s quarters in the basement extended to a tiled kitchen, scullery, pantries, dairy and maid’s rooms. The enclosed yard consisted of out offices, garage, chauffeurs living quarters, stables, two stalls and nine loose boxes together with a large coach house, lofts, kennels, cart sheds, haggard, large hay shed and cattle sheds. Also included was the large walled garden, the ruins of a castle and tennis courts.

Castle Ellen changed hands several times before it was purchased by the current owner. Hicks tells us:

By 1974, Castle Ellen and 11 acres are offered for sale by public auction by the Irish Land Commission however the house is now described as derelict. Michael Keaney spotted this advertisement and fortunately purchased the house for sum of £6,800. The house he now owned was badly vandalised over the previous years that it had remained empty. Windows had been broken and lead had been removed from the roof which allowed water to destroy the interior, rot floors and destroy ceilings. Any fixtures such as fireplaces had been stolen and the only way to enter the house was through a window. Over a number of years, before Michael made the house his full time residence, he secured the external fabric which meant reinstating the roof and windows in an effort to make the building water tight. During his restoration, any element of architectural merit was saved and stored until the time came that it could be reinstated. A lot of decorative plasterwork survives in the reception rooms of the house, however the entrance hall and staircase ceiling had collapsed before Michael’s tenure. Large sections of this ceiling survive and give tantalising glimpses of what this area of the house once looked like. Decorative capitals of pillars remain on the half landing of the stairs around which cling elements of the polychromatic plasterwork with its daring red, green and gold colour scheme.” [5]

8. Claregalway Castle, Claregalway, Co. Galway – section 482

contact: Eamonn O’ Donoghue
Tel: 091-799666
www.claregalwaycastle.com
Open: June-Sept, Sunday-Wednesday, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, 12 noon- 4pm

Fee: adult €6, student/OAP/child €4

The website tells us:

Claregalway Castle is a fully restored 15th century Anglo-Norman tower house. Situated on the banks of the River Clare, in Claregalway village, on the N17 road, the castle is just under 10 km from Galway City. The castle is open to the public daily from June to September, 12 noon to 4 pm, Thursday – Sunday inclusive.

Claregalway castle was the chief fortress of the powerful Clanricard de Burgo or Burke family from the early 1400s to the mid-1600s. The Clanricard Burkes were descended from William de Burgh, an English knight of Norman ancestry who led the colonial expansion into Connacht in the early 1200s.   His brother Hubert was Justiciar of England.  William became the progenitor of one of the most illustrious families in Ireland.

Exploring Claregalway castle and its environs through a guided tour, visitors can find out about its fascinating, often bloody, six-hundred-year history. Visitors can also discover some of the castle’s secrets, learn what everyday life in a medieval Irish castle was like, and hear about the colourful characters who once lived there, such as the 1st Earl of Clanricard, Ulick Burke, in Irish Uileag na gCeann (‘Ulick of the heads/the beheader’), Ladies Eustacia Fitzgerald and Honora de Burgo, the notorious Cromwellian commander Sir Charles Coote, the great Hollywood actor Orson Welles and many more.

The visit Galway website tells us: “Claregalway Castle was believed to have been built in the 1440’s as a stronghold to the De Burgo (Burke) family. The castle was strategically placed on a low crossing point of the Clare River, allowing the De Burgo family to control the water and land trade routes. 

In the past, the castle would have featured a high bawn/defensive wall, an imposing gate-house and a moat. The Battle of Knockdoe in 1504, was one of the largest pitched battles in Medieval Irish history, involving an estimated 10,000 combatants. On the eve of the battle, Ulick Finn Burke stayed at the Castle (which was 5km’s from the battle ground), drinking and playing cards with his troops. The Burke family lost the battle and the castle was later captured by the opponents, the Fitzgerald family. 

In the 1600’s, Ulick Burke, 5th Earl of Clanricarde [1st Marquess Clanricarde], held the castle however it was captured by Oliver Cromwell in 1651 who made the castle his headquarters. English military garrison occupied the castle in the early 1700’s and by the end of the 1700’s, the castle was described as going into decline and disrepair. During the War of Independence in 1919-21, the British once again used the castle as a garrison and a prison for I.R.A soldiers. In the later 1900’s, the famous actor Orson Welles is believed to have stayed at the castle as a 16 year old boy. 

Today, the castle has been fully restored to its former glory.” [6]

9. Coole Park, County Galway – house gone but stables visitor site open https://www.coolepark.ie/

The website tells us:

Coole Park, in the early 20th century, was the centre of the Irish Literary Revival. William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, John Millington Synge and Sean O’ Casey all came to experience its magic. They and many others carved their initials on the Autograph Tree, an old Copper beech still standing in the walled garden today.

At that time it was home to Lady Gregory, dramatist and folklorist. She is perhaps best known as a co-founder of the Abbey Theatre with Edward Martyn of nearby Tullira Castle and Nobel prize-winning poet William Butler Yeats. The seven woods celebrated by W.B. Yeats are part of the many kilometres of nature trails taking in woods, river, turlough, bare limestone and Coole lake.

At Coole, we invite you to investigate for yourself the magic and serenity of this unique landscape. Although the house no longer stands, you can still appreciate the environment that drew so many here. You will experience the natural world that Yeats captured in his poetry. Through this website, you can learn about this special place and its wildlife, as well as Gregory family history and literary connections.

10. Gleane Aoibheann, Clifden, Galway, IE  – gardens

https://www.gardensofireland.org/directory/23/gleann+aoibheann/

The website tells us there are almost two hectares of seaside gardens dating back to the 1820s. One can also have tours of the house.

11. Kylemore Abbey, County Galway

https://www.kylemoreabbey.com/

Kylemore Abbey, Co Galway photograph Courtesy of Finn Richards 2019 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [7]
Kylemore Abbey, photograph by ©Chris Hill Photographic 2011 +44(0) 2890 245038 for Tourism Ireland, 2014. (see [7])

The website tells us: “Nestled in the heart of Connemara, on the Wild Atlantic Way, Kylemore Abbey is a haven of history, beauty and serenity. Home to a Benedictine order of Nuns for the past 100 years, Kylemore Abbey welcomes visitors from all over the world each year to embrace the magic of the magnificent 1,000-acre estate.

Kylemore Castle was built in the late 1800s by Mitchell Henry MP, a wealthy businessman, and liberal politician. Inspired by his love for his wife Margaret, and his hopes for his beloved Ireland, Henry created an estate boasting ‘all the innovations of the modern age’. An enlightened landlord and vocal advocate of the Irish people, Henry poured his life’s energy into creating an estate that would showcase what could be achieved in the remote wilds of Connemara. Today Kylemore Abbey is owned and run by the Benedictine community who have been in residence here since 1920.

Come to Kylemore and enjoy the new visitor experience in the Abbey, From Generation to Generation…..the story of Kylemore Abbey. Experience woodland and lakeshore walks, magnificent buildings and Ireland’s largest Walled Garden. Enjoy wholesome food and delicious home-baking in our Café or Garden Tea House. History talks take place three times a day in the Abbey and tours of the Walled Garden take place throughout the summer. Browse our Craft and Design Shop for unique gifts including Kylemore Abbey Pottery and award-winning chocolates handmade by the Benedictine nuns. Discover the beauty, history, and romance of Ireland’s most intriguing estate in the heart of the Connemara countryside.

Kylemore Abbey, photograph by ©Chris Hill Photographic 2011 +44(0) 2890 245038 for Tourism Ireland, 2014. (see [7])

Although Mitchell Henry was born in Manchester he proudly proclaimed that every drop of blood that ran in his veins was Irish. The son of a wealthy Manchester cotton merchant of Irish origin, Mitchell was a skilled pathologist and eye surgeon. In fact, before he was thirty years of age, he had a successful Harley Street practise and is known to have been one of the youngest ever speakers at the Royal College of Surgeons in London.

On his father’s death, Mitchell inherited a hugely successful family business and became one of the wealthiest young men in Britain at the time. Mitchell lost no time in quitting his medical career and turning instead to liberal politics where he felt he could change the world for the better. His newfound wealth allowed him to buy Kylemore Lodge and construct the castle and enabled him to bring change, employment, and economic growth to the Connemara region which was at the time stricken with hunger, disease, and desperation.

On exiting the castle, turn around and look up, you will notice the beautiful carved angel which guards over it. In the hands of that angel is the coat of arms of Margaret Henry’s birth family, the Vaughan’s of County Down. Margaret’s arms over the front door proudly proclaim this as her castle. Look more closely and you will also see charming carvings of birds which were a favourite motif of the Henry’s. The birds represented the Henry’s hope that Kylemore would become the ‘nesting’ place of their family. Indeed, Kylemore did provide an idyllic retreat from the hustle and bustle of life in London where, even for the very wealthy, life was made difficult by the polluted atmosphere caused by the Industrial Age.

At Kylemore Margaret, Mitchell and their large family revelled in the outdoor life of the ‘Connemara Highlands’. Margaret took on the role of the country lady and became much loved by the local tenants. Her passion for travel and eye for beauty were reflected in the sumptuous interiors where Italian and Irish craftsmen worked side by side to create the ‘family nest’. Sadly the idyllic life did not last long for the Henrys.
In 1874 just a few years after the castle was completed, the Henry family departed Kylemore for a luxurious holiday in Egypt. Margaret was struck ill while travelling and despite all efforts, nothing could be done. After two weeks of suffering Margaret had died. She was 45 years old and her youngest daughter, Violet, was just two years of age. Mitchell was heartbroken. Margaret’s body was beautifully embalmed in Cairo before being returned to Kylemore. According to local lore Margaret lay in a glass coffin which was placed beneath the grand staircase in the front hall, where family and tenants alike could come to pay their respects. In an age when all funerals were held in the home, this is not as unusual as it may first seem. In time Margaret’s remains were placed in a modest red brick mausoleum in the woodlands of her beloved Kylemore.

Although Henry remained on at Kylemore life for him there was never the same again. His older children helped him to manage the estate and care for the younger ones, as he attempted to continue his vision for improvements and hold on to his political career. By now he had become a prominent figure in Irish politics and was a founding member of Isaac Butt’s Home Rule movement. In 1878 work began on the neo-Gothic Church which was built as a beautiful and lasting testament to Henry’s love for his wife. Margaret’s remains were, for some reason, never moved to the vaults beneath the church and to this day she lays alongside Mitchell in the little Mausoleum nestled in the Kylemore woodlands.

The Kylemore Estate, like the rest of Connemara, was made up of mountain, lakes and bog. In keeping with his policy of improvement and advancement, Henry began reclaiming bogland almost immediately and encouraged his tenants to do likewise. Forty years under the guiding hand of Mitchell Henry turned thousands of acres of waste land into the productive Kylemore Estate. He developed the Kylemore Estate as a commercial and political experiment and the result brought material and social benefits to the entire region and left a lasting impression on the landscape and in the memory of the local people. Mitchell Henry introduced many improvements for the locals who were recovering from the Great Irish Famine, providing work, shelter and later a school for his workers children. He represented Galway in the House of Commons for 14 years and put great passion and effort into rallying for a more proactive and compassionate approach to the “Irish problem”. Mitchell Henry gave the tenants at Kylemore a landlord hard to be equalled not just in Connemara but throughout Ireland.

Despite the tragedies that befell the family and Mitchell’s hard work, life at Kylemore was certainly very luxurious. The castle itself was beautifully decorated and provided all that was needed for a family used to a lavish London lifestyle. The Walled Gardens provided a wide range of fruit and vegetables that included luxuries unthinkable to ordinary Irish people such as grapes, nectarines, melons and even bananas. Fruit and vegetable grown at Kylemore were often served at the Henry’s London dinner parties. Salmon caught in Kylemore’s lakes could also be wrapped in cabbage leaves and posted to London where they made a novel addition to the table. As well as a well-equipped kitchen, Kylemore also had several pantries, an ice house, fish and meat larder and a beer and wine cellar. The still room was used for a myriad of ingenious way to preserve and store food stuffs throughout the year.

Guests at Kylemore were presented with a bouquet of violets to be worn at dinner. Violets were a craze in Victorian London as they represented loyalty and friendship. Kylemore castle was well equipped for entertaining and throughout the Salmon season from march to September the Henry’s welcomed many guests from Manchester and London. After dinner, entertainment was provided in the beautiful ballroom with its sprung oak floor for dancing with much of the music and plays being performed by the family themselves.

The older Henry sons enjoyed such pastimes as photography and keeping exotic pets. Alexander Henry is responsible for many of the black and white photographs displayed at Kylemore today. His darkroom was located where Mitchell’s Café stands today. Lorenzo Henry kept a building called the ‘Powder House’ where he experimented with explosives. Indeed, Lorenzo had a brilliant mind like his father’s and went on to develop a number of successful inventions including the Henrite Cartridge for pigeon shooting. All of the family, including the girls enjoyed the outdoor life of fishing, shooting and horse riding. But the family were to suffer heartbreak again when Mitchell’s daughter Geraldine, was to be killed in a tragic carriage accident on the estate while out for a jaunt with her baby daughter and nurse. Both Geraldine’s daughter Elizabeth, and the baby’s nurse survived the accident but Geraldine’s death deeply affected the Henry Family and their connection to Kylemore.

The Henry family eventually left Kylemore in 1902 when the estate was sold to the ninth Duke of Manchester. Mitchell Henry lived to be 84 years old but heartbreak had taken its toll and Mitchel died an aloof individual with a meagre sum of £700 in the bank.”

Kylemore Abbey, photograph for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [7])

In 1903, Mitchell Henry sold Kylemore Castle to the Duke of Manchester (William Angus Drogo Montague) and his Duchess of Manchester, Helena Zimmerman. They lived a lavish lifestyle financed by the Duchess’ wealthy father, the American businessman, Eugene Zimmerman. 

On arrival at Kylemore in Connemara the couple set about a major renovation, removing much of the Henry’s Italian inspired interiors and making the castle more suitable for the lavish entertainments that they hoped to stage in their new home, including an anticipated visit from their friend King Edward VII.

The renovation included the removal of the beautiful German stained-glass window in the staircase hall and ripping out large quantities of Italian and Connemara marble. Local people were unhappy with the developments and felt the changes represented a desecration of the memory of the much-loved Margaret Henry and her beloved Kylemore Castle.

Born in March 1877, William Montagu – the Duke was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, and succeeded his father when he was still a minor. The Duke inherited a grand estate which included lavish residences such as Tanderagee Castle in Co. Armagh and Kimbolton Castle in Huntington, England. However, his inheritance, which was administered by trustees was heavily indebted and together with his lavish lifestyle meant that by the age of 23 the Duke was bankrupt. When in 1900 the Duke married the Cincinatti born heiress, Helena Zimmerman, it seemed that his money problems could be forgotten. As Helena’s parents frowned on the relationship the couple eloped to Paris where they were married – a suitably glamorous start to the marriage of this sparkling and often talked about pair. It is thought that Helena’s father hoped the life of a country squire at Kylemore would help the Duke to leave behind his days of gambling and partying but this was not to be. The Duke and Duchess left Kylemore in 1914 following the death of Helena’s father. There were many stories in circulation which claimed that the Duke lost Kylemore in a late-night gambling session in the Castle however it seems more likely that following the death of Eugene Zimmerman there were insufficient funds available to the Duke to maintain the Kylemore estate.

Beginning in Brussels in 1598, following the suppression of religious houses in the British Isles when British Catholics left England and opened religious houses abroad, a number of monasteries originated from one Benedictine house in Brussels, founded by Lady Mary Percy. Houses founded from Lady Mary’s house in Brussels were at Cambray in France (now Stanbrook in England) and at Ghent (now Oulton Abbey) in Staffordshire. Ghent in turn founded several Benedictine Houses, one of which was at Ypres. Kylemore Abbey is the oldest of the Irish Benedictine Abbeys. The community of nuns, who have resided here since 1920, have a long history stretching back almost three hundred and forty years. Founded in Ypres, Belgium, in 1665, the house was formally made over to the Irish nation in 1682.The purpose of the abbey at Ypres was to provide an education and religious community for Irish women during times of persecution here in Ireland.

Down through the centuries, Ypres Abbey attracted the daughters of the Irish nobility, both as students and postulants, and enjoyed the patronage of many influential Irish families living in exile.

At the request of King James II the nuns moved to Dublin in 1688. However, they returned to Ypres following James’s defeat at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. The community finally left Ypres after the Abbey was destroyed in the early days of World War One. The community first took refuge in England, and later in Co Wexford before eventually settling in Kylemore in December 1920.

At Kylemore, the nuns reopened their international boarding school and established a day school for local girls. They also ran a farm and guesthouse; the guesthouse was closed after a devastating fire in 1959. In 2010, the Girl’s Boarding School was closed and the nuns have since been developing new education and retreat activities.

Kylemore Abbey, Connemara by George Munday 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [7])

Kylemore Abbey’s Victorian Walled Garden is an oasis of ordered splendour in the wild Connemara Countryside. Developed along with the Castle in the late 1800s it once boasted 21 heated glasshouses and a workforce of 40 gardeners. One of the last walled gardens built during the Victorian period in Ireland it was so advanced for the time that it was compared in magnificence with Kew Gardens in London.

Comprised of roughly 6 acres, the Garden is divided in two by a beautiful mountain stream. The eastern half includes the formal flower garden, glasshouses the head gardener’s house and the garden bothy. The western part of the garden includes the vegetable garden, herbaceous border, fruit trees, a rockery and herb garden. Leaving the Garden by the West Gate you can visit the plantation of young oak trees, waiting to be replanted around the estate. The Garden also contains a shaded fernery, an important feature of any Victorian Garden. Follow our self-guiding panels through the garden and learn more about its intriguing history and the extensive restoration work that it took to return the garden to its former glory after falling into disrepair.

Today Kylemore is a Heritage Garden displaying only plant varieties from the Victorian era. The bedding is changed twice a year, for Spring and Summer and its colours change throughout the year.  Be sure to visit us and fall in love with a garden that is surely the jewel in Connemara’s Crown.

12. Lisdonagh House, Caherlistrane, Co. Galway – section 482

contact: John & Finola Cooke
Tel: 093-31163, John, 086-0529052, Finola, 086-0546565
www.lisdonagh.com
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
Open: May 1-Nov 1
Fee: Free

Email: cooke@lisdonagh.com

Lisdonagh House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [8]

The house is available as whole house rental, and it also has cottages for accommodation.

The website tells us:

When looking for an authentic Irish country house to hire, the beautiful 18th century early Georgian Heritage home is the perfect choice. Lisdonagh House is large enough to accommodate families, friends and groups for private gatherings. This private manor house is available for exclusive hire when planning your next vacation or special event. Enchantingly elegant, Lisdonagh Manor House in Galway has been lovingly restored and boasts original features as well as an extensive antiques collection. Peacefully set in secluded woodland surrounded by green fields and magnificent private lake, this luxury rental in Galway is full of traditional character and charm. The tasteful decor pays homage to the history of Lisdonagh Manor with rich and warm colours in each room. The private estate in Galway is perfect for family holidays, celebrations and Board of Director strategy meetings. Lisdonagh is an excellent base for touring Galway, Mayo and the Wild Atlantic Way.

The Visit Galway website tells us that Lisdonagh House is an early Georgian country manor built around the 1720’s by the Reddingtons for the St. George family who were prominent landlords in Galway. The house has commanding views over Lough Hackett, a private Lake which forms part of the Estate, and Knochma hill. [9]

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

a 2 storey house, probably of 1790s [the National Inventory says c. 1760], with a front of 2 bays on either side of a curved bow. Rusticated fanlighted doorway in bow; oval hall, walls painted with an Ionic order and figures in grisaille by J. Ryan. Staircase behind hall, partly in 3 sided projection. On one side of the house is a detached pyramidally-roofed Palladian pavilion with a Venetian window on one face and a niche on the other; Dr. Craig is doubtful whether a balancing pavilion was ever built. The seat of the Palmer family.”

The National Inventory tells us that Lisdonagh is a:

Detached country house, built c.1760, having five-bay two-storey over basement front elevation and three-bay three-storey rear elevation, former with round entrance bay and latter with flat-roofed canted middle bay. Two-bay side elevations. Two-bay flat-roofed addition to north end, presenting one-storey over basement to front and two storeys to rear… Round-headed stairs window to rear projecting bay, with cobweb fanlight. Round-headed doorcase with limestone block-and-start surround, moulded transom and leaded cobweb fanlight, keystone in form of massive scroll bracket, further cornice above and limestone bracket above that in form of heraldic bird’s head, beak forming ring for hanging a lantern. Replacement timber panelled door, and approached by flight of five limestone steps with wrought-iron railings. Round-headed doorway to rear entrance bay having double-leaf timber panelled door and fanlight, and flanked by windows, formerly four-over-four bay in sides of bay. Diocletian windows to basement with tooled limestone voussoirs and leaded cobweb fanlights. Quadrant wall projects from north addition and terminates in square-plan pavilion with pyramidal slated roof, niche facing towards house, Venetian window facing out, and basement having two Diocletian windows to basement at north side, with tooled limestone voussoirs and leaded cobweb fanlights. Detached eight-bay two-storey stable block, built c.1760, in yard ancillary to Lisdonagh House. Now in use as domestic accommodation...

Lisdonagh House is an important mid-eighteenth-century country house with the unusual feature of bows at the front and rear. The unusual chimneystack arrangement is identical to that at Bermingham House. The very fine doorcase and most unusual heraldic bird sculpture add considerably interest to the front façade and the retention of many timber sash windows and other historic fabric enhances the structure. The interesting pavilion next to the house, the various outbuildings, gates and the gate lodge add context and incident to the accompanying demesne.

It seems to have various owners as the Landed Estates website tells us that it was:

“An O’Flaherty home, built in the late 18th century, sold to the O’Mahonys in the late 19th century and passed by marriage to the Palmers. Now functions as a guest house run by John and Finola Cook.” [10]

13. The Grammer School, College Road, Galway – section 482

contact: Terry Fahy
www.yeatscollege.ie
Tel: 091-533500
Open: May 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, June 11-12, July 1-31, Aug 1-21, 9am-5pm Fee: adult/OAP/student €5, child under 12 free

The Grammer School, Yeats College, County Galway, designed by Richard Morrison. Photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage [11]

The National Inventory tells us about it under the heading of Yeats College. I am not sure why the Revenue section 482 spells is “Grammer” rather than “Grammar” but as it is listed as that every year, I defer to their spelling!

Freestanding H-plan five-bay three-storey school with basement, built 1815, having slightly advanced gable-fronted end bays to front, and having recent addition to rear… Round-headed recesses to end bays and to ground floor of middle bays. Tripartite Diocletian windows to top floor of end bays, their recesses encompassing blind square-headed openings to first floor…Square-headed door opening to front within segmental-headed recess, having replacement timber panelled door within tooled limestone doorcase comprising moulded limestone surround surmounted by panelled blocks and moulded cornice framing paned overlight and flanked by paned timber sidelights with chamfered limestone surround.

This large-scale former school retains its original character. Designed by Richard Morrison in 1807, the school was named after Erasmus Smith who founded the original grammar school, located at the courthouse, in 1699. The building displays a host of classical architectural features and a variety of window types. Its impressive scale on the main approach to the city from the east makes it one of the most significant buildings in the city.” [11]

14. Oranmore Castle, Oranmore, Co. Galway – section 482

Leonie Phinn
http://www.oranmorecastle.com/
Tel: 086-6003160
Open: April 14-30, May 10-20, June 10-20, Aug 10-24, Sept 1-6, 11am-3pm Fee: adult €8, child €3

Oranmore Castle, photograph from flickr creative commons Johanna.

The website welcomes us: “Welcome to Oranmore Castle — an exciting experience, which brings the mystery of the old alive and an eccentricity into the new. Oranmore Castle is a wonderful experience for people of all ages. Whether you come just to take a guided tour or whether you would like to create your own special event in the castle this is certainly an experience not to be missed! This enchanting castle sparks the imagination and is perfect for artistic retreats and alternative events, wedding ceremonies, concerts and workshops.

Just imagine getting married in the romantic and atmospheric setting of this charismatic space, certainly a day to be remembered! Run by dynamic husband and wife team Leonie (artist) and Alec Finn (noted musician of De Dannan) with a passion for the arts, the castle provides a unique, creative, welcoming and alternative space for people to reconnect with their artistic selves. Overlooking the magnificent Galway Bay, Oranmore Castle is a natural delight and will leave you feeling nourished, refreshed and inspired. Come and join in the fun and mystery or create your own history at Oranmore Castle, a place steeped in magic, tradition and eccentricity.

Oranmore Castle was built sometime round the fifteenth century possibly on the site of an older castle.

It was a stronghold of the Clanricardes who were a prominent Norman family of Galway. In 1641 Galway was under the overlordship of the Marquess and fifth Earl Clanricarde. In March 1642 the town revolted and joined the Confederates with the Fort (St Augustin’s) still holding out.

Clanricarde placed a strong garrison in Oranmore castle, from which he provisioned the Fort of Galway from the sea until 1643 when Captain Willoughby Governor of Galway surrendered both fort and castle without the Marquess’s consent. In 1651 the castle surrendered to the Parliamentary forces. All the Marquess’s property was of course forfeited but his successor, the 6th Earl [Richard Burke (c. 1610-1666)], got back most of it including the castle. In 1666 he leased the castle to Walter Athy. Mary, Walter’s daughter married secondly Walter Blake [c. 1670-1740] of Drumacrina Co Mayo, and her descendants by that marriage, held Oranmore until 1853, when the estates of Walter Blake were sold to the Encumbered Estates Court.

The Blake family built the house against the south side of the castle. This house was left in ruins when the Blake family left Oranmore and the castle was un-roofed until 1947 when it was bought by Lady Leslie [see my entry about Castle Leslie, County Monaghan], a cousin of Churchill and wife of Sir Shane Leslie the writer.

Lady Leslie re-roofed the castle and gave it to her daughter, Mrs Leslie King who is also well known as a writer under the name of Anita Leslie. Between 1950 and 1960, Mrs Leslie King and her husband, Cmdr Bill King (also a writer who sailed solo around the world in 1970) added a two storey wing joined to the castle by a single storey range. The castle is now occupied by artist Leonie King (daughter of Anita Leslie and Bill King) and her husband Alec Finn of the music band De Danaan.

15. Portumna Castle, County Galway (OPW)

see my OPW entry: https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/02/14/office-of-public-works-properties-connacht/

16. Ross, Moycullen, Co Galway – gardens open 

Ross House or Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

www.rosscastle.com 

This was the home of Violet Martin, one half of the Somerville and Ross partnership of writers, with Edith Somerville.

The website tells us of the house, which is open to accommodation:

Ross Castle offers refined elegance for your special occasion or memorable holiday. The distinctive ambience of the Castle’s grand rooms and self catering cottages, accented with beautiful antique furnishings, will captivate you and up to 40 guests. This 120 acre estate is nestled in a picturesque setting of mountains, lake, and parkland.

Constructed in 1539 by The “Ferocious” O’Flahertys, one of the most distinguished tribes of Galway, the property was later acquired by the Martin Family who built the present manor house upon the former castle’s foundation. After two fires and much neglect, the McLaughlin family acquired the property in the 1980s and have spent the past several decades restoring the estate to its present splendour.

Upon entering the estate you are immediately awestruck by the grand front lawn; undulating to the lake and Parkland.

From the Castle’s courtyard cottages and through the carriage entrance, a gothic archway entices you to explore the walled in Gardens.

Stroll along the herbaceous bordered pathways while taking in the beauty and tranquility of your surroundings, shadowed by 6 massive yew trees hundreds of years old. Giant box hedges create unexpected surprises around every turn: stone sculptures, a red-brick pond, greenhouse, urns and statuary.

17. Signal Tower & Lighthouse, Eochaill, Inis Mór, Aran Islands, Co. Galway – section 482

contact: Michael Mullen
Tel: 087-2470900
www.aranislands.ie
Open: June-Sept, 9am-5pm.
Fee: adult €2.50, child €1.50, family €5, group rates depending on numbers

Inis Oírr ( Inisheer) Lighthouse, Aran Islands, Co Galway, photograph Courtesy of Lukasz Warzecha for Tourism Ireland, 2015, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [7])

18. Thoor Ballylee, County Galway

Thoor Ballylea 1984 Dublin City Library Archives [12]

website: https://yeatsthoorballylee.org/home/

The website tells us:

Thoor Ballylee is a fine and well-preserved fourteenth-century tower but its major significance is due to its close association with his fellow Nobel laureate for Literature, the poet W.B.Yeats. It was here the poet spent summers with his family and was inspired to write some of his finest poetry, making the tower his permanent symbol. Due to serious flood damage in the winter of 2009/10 the tower was closed for some years. A local group the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society has come together and are actively seeking funds to ensure its permanent restoration. Because of an ongoing fundraising effort and extensive repair and restoration work, the tower and associated cottages can be viewed year round, and thanks to our volunteers are open for the summer months, complete with a new Yeats Thoor Ballylee exhibition for visitors to enjoy.

19. Woodville House Dovecote & Walls of Walled Garden – section 482, garden only

Craughwell, Co. Galway
Margarita and Michael Donoghue
Tel: 087-9069191
www.woodvillewalledgarden.com
Open: Jan 28-31, Feb 4-7, 11-14, 18-21, 25-28, June 1-30, Aug 13-22, 12 noon-4pm Fee: adult €10, OAP €8, student, €6, child €3 must be accompanied by adult, family €20-2 adults and 2 children.

Woodville House, County Galway, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The website tells us Woodville is home to a restored walled kitchen garden along with a museum outlining the fascinating connection to Lady Augusta Gregory at Woodville. “Come for a visit to this romantic secret garden in the West of Ireland and enjoy the sights, scents and colours contained within the original stone walls.

Outbuilding at Woodville House, County Galway, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The D’Arcy family most certainly have been at Woodville in 1750 when Francis D’Arcy left his initials on the keystone in the garden arch. The most famous member of the D’Arcy family to live at Woodville was Robert, who held the position of land agent to the estate of the first Marquis of Clanricarde for over 30 years – including the famine period. He does not seem to have been a popular figure in the local area, carrying out his duties with no small amount of vigour. After Robert’s death the estate passed to Francis Nicholas D’Arcy. He lived quietly at Woodville until his death in 1879.

For the next 25 years little is known about Woodville. From the 1901 census we learn that Catherine Kelly was occupying the house and Lord Clanricarde was the landowner.

On the 1st of May 1904 Henry Persse [1855-1928, brother of Augusta, who married William Henry Gregory of Coole Park] leased Woodville house and farm, which comprised of 460 acres, for a period of 29 years from the Marquise of Clanricarde. Henry Persse was the seventh son of Dudley Persse of Roxborogh, Kilchreest He was born on 14th of October 1855 and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He went to India and served in the Indian police for some years, stationed at Madras. Coming into a legacy he returned to Ireland and married Eleanor Ada Beadon in 1888. They had two sons, Lovaine and Dermot, both born in Kilchreest.

The grandparents of the present owners, Pat and Maria Donohue, took over the running of Woodville house and farm, and took a lease out on the farm in 1916 and purchased it outright in 1920. It is from the memories of their oldest daughter. Maureen Donohue, known as Sr. Austin of The Mercy Convent, Loughrea, that it was possible to collect information about what was grown in the walled garden at the time her parents came Maureen was just 3 years of age and her first memory as a child is of visiting the garden with her father and being given a lovely ripe peach picked from a tree by Harry Persse. There was an abundance of fruit trees of all different varieties at Wooville: peaches, pears, plums, greengage, damsons, cherries, quince, meddlers and apples, Cox’s Orange Pippins, Summers Eves, Brambly Seedlings, Beauty of Bath.

Leading from the steps to the centre of the garden was an arch covered with climbing roses and in front of this were two bamboo trees on either side of the entrance. The central paths were lined with iron railings and box hedging. The garden was planted with poppies, lily of the valley, daffodils, snowdrops, and bluebells. It took four men to maintain the garden at Woodville and the head gardeners name was Tap Mannion and the cook in the house was Mary Lamb.Soft fruits included red and green gooseberries, Tay berries, loganberries, red and white currants and raspberries. There was also a fig tree in the south – east corner of the garden – demonstrating just what a microclimate the walls create.”

Places to stay, County Galway

1. Abbeyglen Castle, Galway €€

www.abbeyglen.ie

The Visit Galway website tells us “Built in 1832 by John d’Arcy, Abbeyglen Castle was shortly after leased to the then parish priest, and was named ‘Glenowen House’.  

The castle was later purchased for use as a Protestant orphanage by the Irish Church Mission Society. Here girls would have been trained for domestic service. In 1953, the orphanage became a mixed orphanage until 1955, where it closed due to financial difficulties.  

The castle fell derelict and was home to livestock for some time. It was then purchased by Padraig Joyce of Clifden and became a hotel. The castle continued to operate as a hotel after the Hughes family took over in 1969 and still remains a prestigious hotel to this day.” [13]

2. Ashford Castle, Cong, Galway/Mayo  – hotel – see County Mayo. €€€

3. Ballindooly Castle, Co Galway – accommodation https://www.visitgalway.ie/explore/heritage-and-history/castles/ballindooley-castle/

4. Ballynahinch Castle, Connemara, Co. Galway – hotel €€€

https://www.ballynahinch-castle.com

Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, County Galway, 2014 Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [2])

The website tells us:

Welcome to Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, one of Ireland’s finest luxury castle hotels. Voted #6 Resort Hotel in in the UK & Ireland by Travel & Leisure and #3 in Ireland by the readers of Condé Nast magazine. Set in a private 700 acre estate of woodland, rivers and walks in the heart of Connemara, Co. Galway. This authentic and unpretentious Castle Hotel stands proudly overlooking its famous salmon fishery, with a backdrop of the beautiful 12 Bens Mountain range. 

During your stay relax in your beautifully appointed bedroom or suite with wonderful views, wake up to the sound of the river meandering past your window before enjoying breakfast in the elegant restaurant, which was voted the best in Ireland in April 2017 by Georgina Campbell.”

Mark Bence-Jones writes:

p. 25. “[Martin/IFR, Berridge/IFR] A long, many-windowed house built in late C18 by Richard Martin [1754-1834], who owned so much of Connemara that he could boast to George IV that he had “an approach from his gatehouse to his hall of thirty miles length” and who earned the nickname “Humanity Dick” for founding the RSPCA.

When Maria Edgeworth came here 1833 the house had a “battlemented front” and “four pepperbox-looking towers stuck on at each corner”; but it seemed to her merely a “whitewashed dilapidated mansion with nothing of a castle about it.” The “pepperbox-looking towers” no longer exist; but both the front entrance and the 8 bay garden front have battlements, stepped gables, curvilinear dormers and hood mouldings; as does the end elevation.

The principal rooms are low for their size. Entrance hall with mid-C19 plasterwork in ceiling. Staircase hall beyond; partly curving stair with balustrade of plain slender uprights. Long drawing room in garden front, oval of C18 plasterowrk foliage in ceiling, rather like the plasterwork at Castle Ffrench. Also reminiscent of Castle Ffrench are the elegant mouldings, with concave corners, in the panelling of the door and window recesses. The principal rooms still have their doors of “magnificently thick well-moulded mahogany” which Maria Edgeworth thought “gave an air at first sight of grandeur” though she complained that “not one of them would shut or keep open a single instant.” The drawing room now has a C19 chimneypiece of Connemara marble. The dining room has an unusually low fireplace, framed by a pair of Ionic half-columns. Humanity Dick was reknowned for his extravagant way of life, and in order to escape his creditors he retired to Bologne, where he died. He left the family estates heavily mortgaged, with  the result that his granddaughter and eventual heiress, Mary Letitia Martin, known as “The Princess of Connemara” was utterly ruined after the Great Famine, when Ballynahinch and the rest of her property was sold by the Emcumbered Estates Court; she and her husband being obliged to emigrate to America, where she died in childbirth soon after her arrival Ballynahinch was bought by Richard Berridge, whose son sold it in 1925; after which it was acquired by the famous cricketer Maharaja Ranhisinhji, Jam Sahib of Nawanagar. It is now a hotel.” 

5. Cashel House, Cashel, Connemara, Co Galway – hotel €€

 https://cashelhouse.ie/cms/

The website tells us: “A perfect start on your venture on the Wild Atlantic Way, Cashel House Hotel overlooks the majestic Cashel Bay on the west coast of Ireland. Here a traditional welcome awaits guests in this classic country house retreat. Built in the 19th century this gracious country home was converted to a family run four star hotel in 1968 by the McEvilly family. Situated in the heart of Connemara and nestling in the peaceful surroundings of 50 acres of gardens and woodland walks this little bit of paradise offers an ideal base from which to enjoy walking, beaches, sea and lake fishing, golf and horse riding.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 293. “(Browne-Clayton/IFR) A house of ca 1850, asymmetrical gabled elevations, built by Captain [Thomas] Hazel [or Hazell] for his land agent, Geoffrey Emerson, [a great great grandfather of the current owner] who is said to have designed it. From 1921-52 the home of the O’Meara family who remodelled the interior with chimneypieces salvaged from Dublin and laid out most of the garden. In 1952 it became the house of Lt-Col and Mrs William Patrick Browne-Clayton, formerly of Browne’s Hill, who gave the garden its notable collection of fuschias. Cashels is now owned by Mr and Mrs Dermot McEvilly, who run it as a hotel.” 

The website continues the history:

From 1919 to 1951 Cashel House was the home of Jim O`Mara T.D. and his family. Jim O`Mara was the first official representative of Ireland in the United States and he devoted his life and talents to make Ireland a nation. Jim O`Mara was a keen botanist and found happiness in Cashel House. 

Over the years he carried out a lot of work on the Gardens. The three streams, which flow through the Garden, were a delight to him with their banks clothed with bog plants and Spirea & Osmunda ferns. O`Mara turned the orchard field into a walled garden of rare trees, Azaleas, Heather’s and dwarf Rhododendrons, which his children named ‘the Secret Garden’. 

In 1952 Cashel House became the home of Lt Col and Mrs Brown Clayton, formerly of Brownes Hill in Carlow. During their time at Cashel House the Browne Clayton’s had Harold McMillian, the late British Prime Minister, stay as their guest. The Browne Clayton’s also gave the Garden its notable collection of Fuchisas. 

Dermot and Kay McEvilly purchased Cashel House in 1967. Total refurbishment began immediately, with a fine collection of antiques being added and offering all modern facilities. The house reopened in May 1968 and ‘Cashel House Hotel’ was born.

6. Castlehacket west wing, County Galway

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/21260269?adults=2&category_tag=Tag%3A8047&children=0&infants=0&search_mode=flex_destinations_search&check_in=2022-08-19&check_out=2022-08-26&federated_search_id=f22d54a7-29f3-47e0-bb8c-4f930cedd2de&source_impression_id=p3_1652359805_Hs62GlGfqNCKPaSf

The entry tells us:

CastleHacket House, steeped in Irish History. Built in 1703 by John Kirwan Mayor of Galway, the house is surrounded by nature and is very quiet and peaceful. Join in one of our “quiet “Yoga Classes, hike Connemara, stroll Knockma Woods, explore the lakes – world Famous for brown Trout fishing, or simply relax in the beautiful Park and Gardens.

We are environmentally friendly and support green living, health and wellbeing.

Ground Floor, West wing Guest Apartment in Historic CastleHacket House. Tastefully decorated, your own private door leads to 2 bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen-dining room. Tea and coffee facilities available and breakfast is included.

Guest access to: Library, Reception/Lounge Room, Dining Room with tea and coffee facilaties, Sun Room, Outdoor Picnic area with bbq/pizza wood fired oven. Extensive gardens and woods. Safe car parking. Undercover area for Motorbikes and bicycles. Yoga classes and therapeutic Baths (extra cost). Wifi. Use of water hose, dry place to hang wet gear.

Castlehacket takes its name from the Hackett family who owned the land prior to the Kirwans.

Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988):

p. 70. “[Kirwan, sub Paley; Bernard, sub Bandon; Paley 1969] An early C18 centre block of 3 storeys over a basement, with 2 storey wings added later in C18, and a late C19 wing at the back. Burnt 1923; rebuilt 1928-9, without one of C18 wings and the top storey of the centre block. The seat of the Kirwans, inherited by Mrs. P.B. Bernard (nee Kirwan) 1875. Passed from Lt Gen Sir Denis Barnard 1956 to his nephew Percy Paley, who had a notable genealogical library here.” 

The National Inventory describes it: “two-storey country house over basement, built c.1760 and rebuilt 1929 after being burnt in 1923. Eight-bay entrance front faces north onto large courtyard with gateway, has one-bay projections to each side of entrance bay, flat-roofed porch between projections, and two-bay east side elevation, and with slightly lower four-bay two-storey over basement service wing at west side and stables at east. Seven-bay garden front faces south, with pair of full-height canted bows on either side of central two bays, and is continued by slightly lower three-bay two-storey over basement block terminating in further rounded corner bay, to join with four-bay two-storey over basement service wing on west side of courtyard…Garden front has render frieze to parapet, with medallions separated by fluting…Porch has open arch to exterior, supported on columns with Temple of the Winds-style capitals, and approached by flight of steps. West bow of garden front has round-headed doorway with glazed timber door and fanlight and approached by three limestone steps. Garden to south of house bounded by low hedge, with parkland and sheep grazing beyond

This large country house displays mid-eighteenth-century, nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century work. The modestly presented front elevation is enhanced by the projecting bays and arched entrance. The brick bows to the garden elevation contrast nicely with the plain rendered walls elsewhere, and the decorated frieze and other details add interest and incident. The large lower block and service wing greatly enlarged the house and the fine accompanying stable block and demesne gateways provide a setting of considerable quality and interest.

7. Claregalway Castle, Claregalway, Co. Galway – section 482 €€

https://www.airbnb.ie/users/85042652/listings

“Stay in one of our five beautiful rooms (Old Mill Rooms, Salmon Pool & Abbey Rooms). The River Room is situated beside the Castle on the banks of the River Clare in the village of Claregalway. Just 10km from Galway City Centre and within walking distance of a bus stop, restaurants/bars and the stunning Abbey. This family room is very comfortable with under-floor heating and luxurious bedding. Includes complimentary wine, tea/coffee & a generous continental breakfast.

The space

Claregalway Castle is a fully restored 15th century Anglo-Norman tower house and together with the castle grounds is a fabulous opportunity to savour the history while enjoying the comfort of your beautifully decorated and comfortable room.

8. Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, Co Galway – Airbnb

Tower house of 1648 at centre of Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.

We were lucky to discover this wonderful castle for accommodation on airbnb. https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/7479769?source_impression_id=p3_1652358063_y2E%2FxsRMKAae0vkr

The listing tells us that “Cregg Castle is a magical place built in 1648 by the Kirwin Family, one of the 12 tribes of Galway. It is set on 180 acres of pasture and beautiful woodlands. Your host, Artist Alan Murray who currently hosts the Gallery of Angels in the main rooms.

Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.

Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988):

p. 94. “A tower house built 1648 by a member of the Kirwan family [I think it was Patrick Kirwan (c. 1625-1679)]. And said to have been the last fortified dwelling to be built west of the Shannon; given sash-windows and otherwise altered in Georgian times, and enlarged with a wing on either side: that to the right being as high as the original building, and with a gable; that to the left being lower, and battlemented.  In C18 it was the home of the great chemist and natural philosopher Richard Kirwan [1733-1812], whose laboratory, now roofless, still stands in the garden. It was acquired ca 1780 by James Blake [c. 1755-1818].

Richard Kirwan married Anne Blake, daughter of Thomas (1701-1749), 7th Baronet Blake of Galway.

Mark Bence-Jones continues: “The hall, entered through a rusticated round-headed doorway with a perron and double steps, has a black marble chimneypiece with the Blake coat of arms. The dining room has a plasterwork ceiling. Sold 1947 by Mrs Christopher Kerins (nee Blake) to Mr and Mrs Alexander Johnston. Re-sold 1972 to Mr Martin Murray, owner of the Salthill Hotel, near Galway.” 

Alan who now lives in the castle is, I believe, a nephew of Martin Murray of the Salthill Hotel.

Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.

The National Inventory describes it:

multi-period house, comprising tower house of 1648 at centre, later modified and refenestrated to three-bay two-storey over half-basement, flanked to west by lower two-bay two-storey with attic over half-basement block of c.1780 with two-bay gable elevation, and to east by slightly lower three-bay three-storey over half-basement L-plan block of c. 1870 with gables over eastmost bay of front and rear elevations. Lower four-storey return block at right angles to rear of middle and west blocks, having two-bay elevations. Further two-bay single-storey block to rear of four-storey return, two-bay two-storey block to west of west block and with single-storey block further west again.

Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
“Round-headed doorway to middle of middle block, having double-leaf mid-eighteenth-century door with raised and fielded panelling and original brass knocker, doorknob and heart-shaped cover for keyhole,” Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021: “original brass knocker, doorknob and heart-shaped cover for keyhole.”
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, with paintings by Alan Murray, County Galway, July 2021.
The Blake coat of arms on the fireplace, Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, with paintings by Alan Murray, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.

9. Crocnaraw County House, Moyard, County Galway

http://www.crocnaraw.ie/

The website tells us:

Crocnaraw Country House is an Irish Georgian Country Guest House (note we’re not a Hotel as such) by Ballinakill Bay,10 kilometres from Clifden, Connemara-on the Galway-Westport road.Set in 8 hectares of gardens and fields with fine views,Crocnaraw Country House has been winner of the National Guest House Gardens Competition for 4 years. This independently run Country Inn is noted for Irish hospitality and informality but without a sense of casualness.The House is tastefully and cheerfully decorated, each of its bedrooms being distinctively furnished to ensure the personal well-being of Guests. Fully licensed Crocnaraw Country House’s excellent cuisine is based on locally sourced fish and meat as well as eggs,fresh vegetables, salads and fruits from kitchen garden and orchard. Moyard is centrally located for Salmon and Trout fishing, deep-sea Angling, Championship Golf-Courses and many more recreational activities in the Clifden and Letterfrack Region of Connemara in County Galway.”

The National Inventory tells us that the house is a L-plan six-bay two-storey two-pile house, built c.1850, having crenellated full-height canted bay to south-east side elevation. Recent flat-roof two-storey extension to north-east…”Originally named Rockfield House, this building has undergone many alterations over time, the crenellated bay being an interesting addition. The area was leased by Thomas Butler as a Protestant orphanage and was known locally as ‘The Forty Boys’. The retention of timber sash windows enhances the building. The road entrance sets the house off plesantly.

10. Currarevagh, Oughterard, Co Galway – country house hotel €€

https://www.currarevagh.com

The website tells us:

Currarevagh House is a gracious early Victorian Country House, set in 180 acres of private parkland and woodland bordering on Lough Corrib. We offer an oasis of privacy for guests in an idyllic, undisturbed natural environment, providing exceptional personal service with a high standard of accommodation and old fashioned, traditional character. A genuine warm welcome from the owners.

Currarevagh House was built by the present owner’s great, great, great, great grandfather in 1842, however our history can be traced further back. The seat of the Hodgson Family in the 1600s was in Whitehaven, in the North of England, where they owned many mining interests. Towards the end of the 17th Century, Henry William Hodgson moved to Arklow and commenced mining for lead in Co Wicklow.  A keen angler and shot he travelled much of Ireland to fulfil his sport (not too easy in those days), and during the course of a visit to the West of Ireland decided to prospect for copper. This he found along the Hill of Doon Road. At much the same time he discovered lead on the other side of Oughterard. So encouraged was he that he moved to Galway and bought Merlin Park (then a large house on the Eastern outskirts of Galway, now a Hospital) from the Blake family and commenced mining. As Galway was some distance from the mining activities he wanted a house closer to Oughterard. Currarevagh (not the present house, but an early 18th century house about 100m from the present house) was then owned by the O’Flaherties – the largest clan in Connaught – and, though no proof can be found, we believe that he purchased it from the O’Flaherties. However a more romantic story says he won it and 28,000 acres in a game of cards. The estate spread beyond Maam Cross in the heart of Connemara, and to beyond Maam Bridge in the North of Connemara. As the mining developed so the need for transportation of the ore became increasingly difficult until eventually two steamers (“the Lioness” and “the Tigress”) were bought. These, the first on Corrib, delivered the ore to Galway and returned with goods and passengers stopping at the piers of various villages on the way.  All apparently went very well. The present house was built in 1842, suggesting a renewed wealth and success. No sooner however was present Currarevagh completed, then the 1850’s saw disaster. A combination of British export law changes, and vast seems of copper ore discovered in Spain and South America, heralded the end of mining activity in Ireland.  The family, who were fairly substantial land owners at this stage, got involved in various projects, from fish farming to turf production – inventing the briquette in the process. Certainly Currarevagh was been run as a sporting lodge for paying guests by 1890 by my great grandfather; indeed we have a brochure dated 1900 with instructions from London Euston Railway Station. This we believe makes it the oldest in Ireland; certainly the oldest in continuous ownership. After the Irish Civil War of the 1920s the Free State was formed and many of the larger Estates were broken up for distribution amongst tenants. This included Currarevagh, even though they were not absentee landlords and had bought all their land in the first place. Landlords were assured they would be paid 5 shillings (approx 25c) an acre, however this redemption was never honoured, and effectively 10’s of thousands of acres were confiscated by the new state, leaving Currarevagh with no income, apart from the rare intrepid paying guest. At one stage a non local cell of the Free Staters (an early version of the IRA) tried to blow up Currarevagh, planting explosive under what is currently the dining room. However the plan was discovered before hand, and the explosive made safe. From then on a member of the local IRA cell remained at the gates of Currarevagh to warn off any of the marauding out of towners, saying Currarevagh was not to be touched. Evidently they were well integrated into the community, and indeed during the famine years it seems they did as much as they could to help alleviate local suffering. Indeed there is a famine graveyard on our estate; this was because the local people became too week to bring the dead to Oughterard. It is also one of the few burial grounds to contain a Protestant consecrated section. Having got through the 1920s and 30s, Currarevagh again got in financial trouble during the second world war: although paying guests did come to Ireland (mainly as rationing was not so strict here), the original house was put up for sale. It did not sell, and eventually was pulled down in 1946, leaving just Currarevagh House as it stands today. In 1947 it was the first country house to open as a restaurant to no staying guests; still, of course, the situation today.”

11. Delphi Lodge, Leenane, Co Galway €€€

and Boathouse cottages: https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/boathouse-cottages/ €€

and Wren’s Cottage: https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/wrens-cottage/ €€

Delphi Lodge, 2015, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).

 https://delphilodge.ie

The website tells us: “A delightful 1830s country house, fishing lodge and hotel in one of the most spectacular settings in Connemara Ireland. It offers charming accommodation, glorious scenery, great food and total tranquillity. Located in a wild and unspoilt valley of extraordinary beauty, the 1000-acre Delphi estate is one of Ireland’s hidden treasures…

The Marquis of Sligo (Westport House) builds Delphi Lodge as a hunting/fishing lodge and is reputed to have named it “Delphi” based on the valley’s alleged similarity to the home of the Oracle in Greece.

Delphi Lodge, 2014, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).

12. Emlaghmore Cottage, Connemara, County Galway

https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/emlaghmore-cottage/

Connemara cottage, four hundred yards off the coast road, 10 km from Roundstone and 4 km from Ballyconneely.

Emlaghmore Cottage was built in stone in about 1905, with just three rooms, and was extended in the 1960s to make a holiday home for a family. It stands on about ¾ acre running down to Maumeen lake, and is about 400 yards off the coast road (The Wild Atlantic Way) in a secluded situation with fine views. It has a shed with a supply of turf for the open fire in the living room, and garden furniture. There is a boat for anglers on the lake.

13. Glenarde, Co Galway – hotel (Ardilaun House Hotel) €

https://www.theardilaunhotel.ie

The Landed Estates database tells us it was the town house of the Persse family, built in the mid 19th century, bought by the Bolands of Bolands biscuits in the 1920s and since the early 1960s has functioned as the Ardilaun House Hotel.

14. Glenlo Abbey, near Galway, Co Galway – accommodation €€

Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate, Co Galway Kelvin Gillmor Photography 2020, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).

 https://www.glenloabbeyhotel.ie

Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988): p. 138. “(Palmer, sub De Stacpoole/IFR) A long plain two storey house built onto slender tower with pointed openings near the top. The seat of the Palmer family.” 

The estate belonged to the Ffrench family in the 1750s, an Anglo-Norman family. It was originally named Kentfield House, before becoming Glenlow or Glenlo, derived from the Irish Gleann Locha meaning “glen of the lake.” The adjacent abbey was built in the 1790s as a private church for the family but was never consecrated. In 1846 the house was put up for sale. It was purchased by the Blakes.

In 1897 it was purchased by the Palmers. In the 1980s it was sold to the Bourke family, who converted it to a hotel.

In 1990s two carriages from the Orient Express train were purchased and they form a unique restaurant.

Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate, Co Galway Kelvin Gillmor Photography 2020, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).
Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate, ©Glenlo Abbey Hotel and Estate, Galway 2015, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).
Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate, Co Galway Courtesy Glenlo Abbey Hotel and Estate, Galway 2017, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).
Glenlo Abbey Hotel 2020 Courtesy Glenlo Abbey Hotel and Estate, Galway, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).
Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate, Co Galway_©Glenlo Abbey Hotel and Estate, Galway 2014, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).
Palmer Bar, Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate, Courtesy Glenlo Abbey Hotel and Estate, Galway 2020, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).

15. Kilcolgan Castle, Clarinbridge, Co Galway €€€

 https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/3828868?adults=2&category_tag=Tag%3A8047&children=0&infants=0&search_mode=flex_destinations_search&check_in=2022-08-03&check_out=2022-08-08&federated_search_id=321dc1f8-3115-4a71-9c5b-00aa67ee2c4a&source_impression_id=p3_1652359008_yrD4CHLmFCj0nNf0

Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988):

p. 165. “(St. George, sub French/IFR; Blyth, B/PB; Ffrench, B/PB) A small early C19 castle, built ca 1801 by Christopher St. George, the builder of the nearby Tyrone House, who retired here with a “chere amie” having handed over Tyrone House to his son [Christopher St George was born Christopher French, adding St George to his surname to comply with his Great-Grandfather, George St George (c. 1658-1735) 1st Baron Saint George of Hatley Saint George in Counties Leitrim and Roscommon]. It consists of three storey square tower with battlements and crockets and a single-storey battlemented and buttressed range. The windows appear to have been subsequently altered. The castle served as a dower house for Tyrone, and was occupied by Miss Matilda St George after Tyrone was abandoned by the family 1905; it was sold after her death, 1925. Subsequent owners included Mr Martin Niland, TD; Mr Arthur Penberthy; Lord Blyth; and Mrs T.A.C.Agnew (sister of 7th and present Lord Ffrench); it is now owned by Mr John Maitland.” 

16. Lisdonagh House, Caherlistrane, Co. Galway – section 482, see above – whole house rental and self-catering cottages.

contact: John & Finola Cooke
Tel: 093-31163, John, 086-0529052, Finola, 086-0546565
www.lisdonagh.com

17. Lough Cutra Castle, County Galway, holiday cottages

https://www.loughcutra.com/cormorant.html

info@loughcutra.com

Nestled into the Northern corner of the courtyard, this beautifully appointed self catering cottage can sleep up to six guests – with private entrance and parking. Built during 1846 as part of a programme to provide famine relief during the Great Potato Famine of the time, it originally housed stabling for some of the many horses that were needed to run a large country estate such as Lough Cutra. In the 1920’s the Gough family, who were the then owners of the Estate, closed up the Castle and converted several areas of the courtyard including Cormorant into a large residence for themselves. They brought with them many original features from the Castle, such as wooden panelling and oak floorboards from the main Castle dining room and marble fireplaces from the bedrooms.

We have furnished and decorated the home to provide a luxuriously comfortable and private stay to our guests. Each unique courtyard home combines the history and heritage of the estate and buildings with modern conveniences.

https://www.loughcutra.com/

The website gives us a detailed history of the castle:

Lough Cutra Castle and Estate has a long and varied history, from famine relief to the billeting of soldiers, to a period as a convent and eventually life as a private home. It was designed by John Nash who worked on Buckingham Palace, and has been host to exclusive guests such as Irish President Michael D Higgins, His Royal Highness Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwall Camilla, Bob Geldof, Lady Augusta Gregory and WB Yeats. The countryside surrounding Lough Cutra holds many a story, dating back centuries.

The extensive history of the Lough Cutra Castle and Estate can be traced back as far as 866 AD. It is quite likely that Ireland’s patron saint, Saint Patrick, passed Lough Cutra on his travels and also Saint Colman MacDuagh as he was a relative of nearby Gort’s King Guaire. The round tower Kilmacduagh built in his honour is an amazing site to visit near Lough Cutra. The countryside surrounding Lough Cutra holds stories for the centuries, all the way back to the Tuatha De Danann.

The immediate grounds of the 600 acre estate are rich in remnants of churches, cells and monasteries due to the introduction of Christianity. A number of the islands on the lake contain the remnants of stone altars.

The hillsides surrounding Lough Cutra contain evidence of the tribal struggle between the Firbolgs and the Tuatha De Danann (the Firbolgs and the Tuatha De Danann were tribes said to have existed in Ireland). These are from around the times of the Danish invasion. The ruined church of nearby Beagh on the North West shore was sacked by the Danes in 866 AD and war raged through the district for nearly 1000 years. In 1601 John O’Shaughnessy and Redmond Burke camped on the shores of the lake while they plundered the district.

In 1678, Sir Roger O’Shaughnessy inherited from Sir Dermot all the O’Shaughnessy’s Irish land – nearly 13,000 acres – and this included Gort and 2,000 acres around Lough Cutra and the lake itself. Following the revolution during which Sir Roger died of ill health, the Gort lands were seized and presented to Thomas Prendergast. This was one of the oldest families in Ireland. Sir Thomas came to Ireland on King William’s death in 1701 and lived in County Monaghan. The title to the lands was confused, but was in the process of being resolved when Sir Thomas was killed during the Spanish Wars in 1709. His widow, Lady Penelope decided to let the lands around the lake and the islands. On these islands, large numbers of apple, pear and cherry trees were planted, and some still survive today. The land struggle continued as the O’Shaughnessy’s tried to lay claim to the lands that had been taken from them by King William. In 1742 the government confirmed the Prendergast title, but it was not until 1753 that Roebuck O’Shaughnessy accepted a sum of money in return for giving up the claim.

Following Sir Thomas’s death, John Prendergast Smyth inherited the Gort Estate. It was John who created the roads and planted trees, particularly around the Punchbowl where the Gort River disappears on its way to Gort and Coole. John lived next to the river bridge in Gort when in the area. This area is now known as the Convent, Bank of Ireland and the old Glynn’s Hotel which is now a local restaurant. When John died in 1797 he was succeeded by his nephew, Colonel Charles Vereker who in 1816 became Viscount Gort. The estate at this time was around 12,000 acres.

When the estate was inherited by Colonel Vereker in 1797 he decided to employ the world renowned architect John Nash to design the Gothic Style building now known as Lough Cutra Castle. Colonel Vereker had visited Nash’s East Cowes Castle on the Isle of Wight and was so taken with it that he commissioned the construction of a similar building on his lands on the shore of Lough Cutra. Nash also designed Mitchelstown Castle, Regents Park Crescent, his own East Cowes Castle, as well as being involved in the construction of Buckingham Palace.

The Castle itself was built during the Gothic revival period and is idyllically situated overlooking the Estate’s 1000 acre lake. The building of the castle was overseen by the Pain brothers, who later designed and built the Gate House at Dromoland. The original building included 25 basement rooms and the cost of the building was estimated at 80,000 pounds. While the exact dates of construction are not known the building commenced around 1809 and went on for a number of years. We know that it had nearly been finished by 1817 due to a reference in a contemporary local paper.

The Viscount Gort was forced to sell the Castle and Estate in the Late 1840s having bankrupted himself as a result of creating famine relief. The Estate was purchased by General Sir William Gough, an eminent British General. The Gough’s set about refurbishing the Castle to their own taste and undertook further construction work adding large extensions to the original building, including a clock tower and servant quarters. Great attention was paid to the planting of trees, location of the deer park, and creation of new avenues. An American garden was created to the south west of the Castle. The entire building operations were completed in 1858 and 1859.

A further extension, known as the Museum Wing, was built at the end of the nineteenth century to house the war spoils of General Sir William Gough by his Grandson. This was subsequently demolished in the 1950s and the cut stone taken to rebuild Bunratty Castle in County Clare.

In the 1920s the family moved out of the Castle as they could not afford the running costs. Some of the stables in the Courtyards were converted into a residence for them. The Castle was effectively closed up for the next forty years, although during WWII the Irish army was billeted within the Castle and on the Estate.

The Estate changed hands several times between the 1930s and the 1960s when it was purchased by descendants of the First Viscount Gort. They took on the task of refurbishing the Castle during the late 1960s. Having completed the project, it was then bought by the present owner’s family.

In more recent years there has begun another refurbishment programme to the Castle and the Estate generally. In 2003 a new roof was completed on the main body of the Castle, with some of the tower roofs also being refurbished. There has been much done also to the internal dressings of the Castle bringing the building up to a modern standard. Around the Estate there has been reconstruction and rebuilding works in the gate lodges and courtyards. There has also begun extensive works to some of the woodlands in order to try and retain the earlier character of the Estate.

It is envisaged that more works will be undertaken over the coming years as the history and legend of Lough Cutra continues to build.

18. Lough Ina Lodge Hotel

https://www.loughinaghlodgehotel.ie/en/

Lough Inagh Lodge was built on the shores of Lough Inagh in the 1880.  It was part of the Martin Estate (Richard “Humanity Dick” Martin of Ballynahinch Castle) as one of its fishing lodges.  It was later purchased by Richard Berridge, a London brewer who used the building as a fishing lodge in the 1880’s.  It passed through the hands of the Tennent family, and then to Carroll Industries until 1989 it was redeveloped by the O’Connor family back to its’ former glory into a modern bespoke boutique lodge.

19. The Quay House, Clifden, Co €€

https://thequayhouse.com  

The website tells us:

Built for the Harbour Master nearly 200 years ago, The Quay House has been sensitively restored and now offers guest accommodation in fourteen bedrooms (all different) with full bathrooms – all but three overlook the Harbour. Family portraits, period furniture, cosy fires and a warm Irish welcome make for a unique atmosphere of comfort and fun.

The owners, Paddy and Julia Foyle, are always on hand for advice on fishing, golfing, riding, walking, swimming, sailing, dining, etc – all close by.

The Quay House is Clifden’s oldest building, dating from C1820. It was originally the Harbour Master’s house but later became a Franciscan monastery, then a convent and finally a hotel owned by the Pye family. Now providing Town House Accommodation in Clifen, it is run by the Foyle family, whose forebears have been entertaining guests in Connemara for nearly a century.

The Quay House stands right on the harbour, just 7 minutes walk from Clifden town centre. All rooms are individually furnished with some good antiques and original paintings; several have working fireplaces. All have large bathrooms with tubs and showers and there is also one ground floor room for wheelchair users.

The Quay House hotel, Clifden, County Galway, photograph by James Fennell 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).
The Quay House hotel, Clifden, County Galway, photograph by James Fennell 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).
The Quay House hotel, Clifden, County Galway, photograph by James Fennell 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).
The Quay House hotel, Clifden, County Galway, photograph by James Fennell 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).

20. Renvyle, Letterfrack, Co Galway – hotel https://www.renvyle.com

The website tells us: “First opened as a hotel in 1883, it is spectacularly located on a 150 acre estate on the shores of the Wild Atlantic Way in Connemara, Co. Galway. The grounds include a private freshwater lake for fishing and boating, a beach, woodlands, gardens and numerous activities on site including tennis, croquet, outdoor heated swimming pool, canoeing and shore angling. For a unique location, an award winning Restaurant, comfortable bedrooms and a truly uplifting break, here, the only stress is on relaxation.

Its often-turbulent history has mirrored the change of circumstances and troubled history of Ireland, but it has been resilient and survived. Renvyle House was once home of the Chieftain and one of the oldest and most powerful Gaelic clans in Connacht; that of Donal O’Flaherty, who had a house on the site since the 12th Century where the hotel stands today.

The Blakes (one of the 14 Tribes of Galway) bought 2,000 acres of confiscated O’Flaherty land in 1689.  They leased it to the senior O’Flaherty family until the Blakes took up residence in 1822. Before then the ‘Big House’ was a thatched cabin 20ft by 60ft and one storey high.  Henry Blake implemented  major improvements to make it more compatible to a man of his means. The timber used in the building of the house extension was said to have been from a shipwreck in the bay.  The thatch was replaced with slate roof and he added another storey.  In 1825 the Blake family published the ‘Letters from the Irish Highlands’ describing the life and conditions in Connemara at that time.  His widow, Caroline Johanna opened it first as a hotel in 1883.  ‘Through Connemara in a Governess Cart’ published in 1893, written by Edith Somerville and Violet Martin. In this beautifully illustrated book, they visit Ballynahinch Castle, Kylemore Abbey and Renvyle House.

The house was sold before the War of Independence In 1917 to surgeon, statesman and poet Oliver St.John Gogarty played host to countless distinguished friends including Augustus John, W.B. Yeats (who came on his honeymoon to Renvyle House and Yeat’s first Noh play was first performed in the Long Lounge).  Indeed in 1928 Gogarty had a flying visit from aviator Lady Mary Heath and her husband which was well documented.  The House was burned to the ground during the Irish Civil War in 1923 by the IRA, as were many other home of government supporters; along with Gogarty’s priceless library.   The house was rebuilt by Gogarty as a hotel in the late 1920’s in the Arts & Crafts design of that era.
“My house..stands on a lake, but it stands also on the sea – waterlilies meet the golden seaweed…at this, the world’s end” Oliver St. John Gogarty.

he war years were difficult times although the hotel stayed open all year round.  Dr. Donny Coyle visited Renvyle house in July 1944 with friends and as fate would have it, he bought it with friends Mr. John Allen and Mr. Michael O’Malley in 1952 from the Gogarty estate and they reopened it on the 4th July that year.

The 1958 brochure announced new facilities in the hotel bedrooms. “Shoe cleaning. Shoe polishing and shining materials are in each room, just lift the lid of the wooden shoe rest.”  Guests were also informed that dinner was served from 7.30pm to 9pm, and that they were not to go hungry through politeness. “Don’t be shy, if you’d like a little more, please ask.” – and that ethos of hospitality remains to this day.

It remains in the Coyle family to this day, owned by Donny’s son John Coyle and his wife Sally.Their eldest daughter Zoë Fitzgerald is also involved with the hotel, is the Marketing Director and Chairman of the Board.

21. Rosleague Manor, Galway – accommodation €€

 https://www.rosleague.com

The website tells us: “Resting on the quiet shores of Ballinakill Bay, and beautifully secluded within 30 acres of its own private woodland, Rosleague Manor in Connemara is one of Ireland’s finest regency hotels.

The National Inventory tells us: “Attached L-plan three-bay two-storey house, built c.1830, facing north-east and having gabled two-storey block to rear and multiple recent additions to rear built 1950-2000, now in use as hotel…This house is notable for its margined timber sash windows and timber porch. The various additions have been built in a sympathetic fashion with many features echoing the historic models present in the original house.”

22. Ross, Moycullen, Co Galway – see above

www.rosscastle.com 

23. Ross Lake House Hotel, Oughterard, County Galway

http://rosslakehotel.com/

Ross Lake House Hotel in Galway is a splendid 19th Century Georgian House. Built in 1850, this charming Galway hotel is formerly an estate house of the landed gentry, who prized it for its serenity. Set amidst rambling woods and rolling lawns, it is truly a haven of peace and tranquillity. Echoes of gracious living are carried throughout the house from the elegant drawing room to the cosy library bar and intimate dining room.

24. Screebe House, Camus Bay, County Galway €€€

https://www.screebe.com/

Tucked away in the idyllic surrounds of Camus Bay, experience the best of Connemara at one of Ireland’s finest Victorian country homes, Screebe House. 

Built in 1872 as a fishing lodge and lovingly restored by the Burkart family in 2010, Screebe House offers guests an experience of luxury comfort, and effortless charm. With open fireplaces, high ceilings and heritage décor, Screebe’s elegant spaces evoke a sense of grandeur and provide the perfect setting to read a good book or savour a delicious glass of wine while taking in the breathtaking Connemara scenery. 

Screebe, originating from the Irish word ‘scribe’ meaning destination, is ideally located for those who want to explore the stunning scenery of Connemara or partake in a wealth of activities available, from renting bikes to fishing, deer spotting, swimming, hiking, and more. Screebe’s privately owned estate extends 45,000 acres, one of the largest estates in the country.

25. Thorn Park, Oranmore, Co Galway – now the Oranmore Lodge Hotel   https://www.oranmorelodge.ie

The Oranmore Lodge Hotel is a four-star family-run hotel that has earned the reputation of being a “home away from home”, situated in Oranmore, a popular village bursting with life and character. From the moment you arrive, take in the beautiful surroundings and unique character of the building that will encourage you to relax and leave it all behind. Guests have enjoyed our Irish hospitality for over 150 years.

The National Inventory tells us:

The Oranmore Lodge Hotel was formerly the residence of the Blake Butler family. The house was altered in the late nineteenth century and its name changed from Mount Vernon to Thornpark, and the steep gables, bay windows and crenellations are typical of that era. An interesting symmetrical elevation, enhanced by the family shield with motto. It retains much original fabric notwithstanding its extension on both sides.

Whole House Accommodation and Weddings, County Galway:

1. Cloghan Castle, near Loughrea, County Galway – whole castle accommodation and weddings, €€€ for two.

https://www.cloughancastle.ie/

The website describes it:

An air of historic grandeur and authenticity is the initial impression upon arrival at Cloughan Castle. Follow the long sweeping driveway surrounded with breath-taking countryside views, to the beautifully restored castle with its ornamental stonework & imposing four storey tower. Sitting within several acres of matured woodlands with striking panoramic countryside views, this lovingly restored 13th-century castle holds its historic past with a character that blends effortlessly with elegance and comfort.

Find yourself immersed in unrivalled castle comfort with the ultimate mix of homeliness & grandeur, the most appealing destination for those seeking exclusivity & privacy. A combination of seven magnificently appointed bedrooms, two versatile reception rooms, complete with an idyllic backdrop, ensures a truly memorable occasion to be long remembered. Cloughan Castle offers complete exclusivity for all occasions, from an intimate family getaway to a private party celebration, to a truly magical wedding location.

The Visit Galway website tells us:

Cloghan Castle near Loughrea in Galway, was originally built as an out-post fortification in the 12th century by an Anglo-Norman family. The castle was last inhabited by Hugh de Burgo, a son of Walter de Burgo, Earl of Ulster, in the 15th century. 

In 1973, Cloghan Castle was a derelict ruin and all that remained of the fortified Norman keep, built in 1239, were the walls of the tower house. Its current owner, Michael Burke, always had an interest in history and seeing the ruined castle on a neighbour’s land he thought it would be a nice idea to restore it. 

The aim of the restoration work was to recreate what it was like to live in a medieval castle, but without having to suffer the deprivation of 13th century living. The meticulous and historically accurate restoration programme was completed in the December of 1996 and the castle now plays host and venue to numerous weddings each year.

Roscommon:

1. Castlecoote House, Castlecoote, Co. Roscommon – section 482

contact: Kevin Finnerty
Tel: 087-2587537
www.castlecootehouse.com
Open: July1-31, Aug 1-31
Garden-guided tours, 2pm-6pm
Home of the Percy French Festival, www.percyfrench.ie 

July 20,21,22, 10am-4pm Fee: €5

2. Clonalis House, Castlerea, Co. Roscommon – section 482

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/10/16/clonalis-castlerea-county-roscommon/
contact: Pyers O’Conor Nash, Richard O’Connor Nash
Tel: 094-9620014, 087-3371667
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
April 1-September 30
www.clonalishouse.com
Open: Jun 1-Aug 31, Mon-Sat, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, guided tours,11am-4pm
Fee: adult €10, child €5, group rates available

3. King House, Main Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon – section 482

contact: Majella Hunt
Tel: 090-6637100

www.visitkinghouse.ie

Open: April 1-Sept 30, National Heritage Week Aug 13-21, Mon-Sat 11am-5pm, Sunday 11am-4pm
Fee: adult €7, OAP/student /child €5, Family €20

4. Shannonbridge Fortifications, Shannonbridge, Athlone, Co. Roscommon – section 482

contact: Fergal Moran
Tel: 090-9674973 

www.shannonbridgefortifications.ie 

Open: May 1-Sept 30, 10am-6pm

Fee: Free

5. Strokestown Park House, Strokestown Park House, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon – section 482

contact: Ciarán
Tel: 01-8748030
www.strokestownpark.ie www.irishheritagetrust.ie
Open: Mar 17-Dec 20, Mar, Apr, May, Sept, Oct, 10am-5pm, June, July, Aug, 10am- 6pm, Nov, Dec 10.30am-4pm

Fee: adult €14, €12.50, €9.25, OAP/student €12.50, child €6, family €29, groups €11.50

Places to stay, County Roscommon:

1. Abbey Hotel, Abbeytown, Ballypheasan, Roscommon, Co Roscommon 

https://www.abbeyhotel.ie

The website tells us: “The 4* Abbey Hotel located in the heart of the Irish Midlands town of Roscommon is considered by many as one of Ireland’s last few remaining authentic family-run hotels.

The National Inventory tells us it is a five-bay two-storey house, built c. 1800, now in use as a hotel, with advanced two-bay tower with entrance and with recessed two-bay gable-fronted block to south end of façade and modern single-storey extensions to east and south.

This Georgian House was remodelled as a miniature Gothic castle possibly by Richard Richards. Though the form of this building has been altered with many extensions added to facilitate its new function as a hotel, it still maintains many original materials. The elaborate entranceway, turrets and castellated parapet combine to make this a very striking building. The landscaped grounds with castellated turrets offset the ruins of the medieval Abbey located to the south of the hotel.

2. Castlecoote, County Roscommon (also Section 482) – see above

www.castlecootehouse.com

3. Clonalis House, Castlerea, Co Roscommon – accommodation and 482 – see above

4. Edmondstown (Bishop’s Palace or St. Nathy’s), Ballaghaderreen Co Roscommon – airbnb

 https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/27927866?source_impression_id=p3_1580207144_IGlnwq6lh1FFj9pW

The Bishop’s Palace (aka Edmondstown House) was built in 1864 by Captain Arthur Robert Costello. The house was designed by John McCurdy, who also remodelled the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin. It is built in the High Victorian Gothic style. 

For 100 years the house was the residence of the Bishop of Achonry.  

A historically interesting building with beautiful grounds (and a full Irish breakfast!) 

The National Inventory tells us:

Edmondstown House, otherwise known as Saint Nathy’s, is a rare example of High Victorian Gothic in County Roscommon. The construction of such an architecturally expressive structure was an ambitious project for the original owner, Captain Arthur Costello. Edmondstown House exhibits many features typical of High Victorian architecture, famously employed by architect such as Deane and Woodward, and J.S. Mulvany. These architectural elements include the octagonal tower and the string courses of red brick framing the pointed-arch window openings, and the decorative cast-iron roof finials.

5.  Kilronan Castle (formerly Castle Tenison), Ballyfarnan, County Roscommon – hotel €

Amazingly, when this was photographed for the National Inventory, it was a ruin! It has now been completely renovated. https://www.kilronancastle.ie

The website tells us:

Kilronan Castle Estate & Spa should be on your list of castles to stay at in Ireland. The luxury 4 star castle hotel is situated in County Roscommon in a secluded corner of the idyllic West of Ireland. Built in the 18th century, the Kilronan Castle resort welcomes its guests through a set of magnificent medieval gates at the top of a meandering driveway through an ancient forest which is surrounded by fifty acres of lush green estate and next to a beautiful lough making the castle look like something straight out of a fairytale.

Kilronan Castle Estate is also a site that is full of history as it was lovingly transformed from the ancestral home of a royal family into a luxurious Irish castle hotel with a spa. The castle hotel seamlessly mixes the elegance, sophistication and tradition of the past with the luxury and comfort of the modern era. This makes Kilronan Castle Estate & Spa one of the most luxurious castle hotels in Ireland to stay in. Kilronan Castle’s location and surroundings include breathtaking views as well as peace and quiet which makes a break at Kilronan Castle feel like time is standing still.

The name Kilronan comes from the Gaelic ‘Cill Ronain’, meaning Ronan’s Abbey. According to tradition, St. Ronan and his daughter St. Lasair established a church here on the banks of Lough Meelagh in the 6th century. However, it is the building of a home for a famous land-owning family, that has made this part of Roscommon famous the world over. That said, it wasn’t always known as Kilronan Castle.

During the era of Edward I in the late 13th century, there was a family known as the Tenisons. Although they originated from Oxfordshire, their descendents eventually settled in the north of Ireland in the mid-17th century. Down through the ages, they would fight with the Irish Brigade in France, Spain and Portugal and then serve as members of The Irish Guards during the Boer Wars. Although valiant soldiers, generation after generation of Tenison heirs would famously squander their inheritances, only to reimburse themselves by marrying wealthy heiresses.

Marrying into majesty

One such advocate of this technique was Thomas Tenison. Initially an MP for Boyle in 1792, he later became a lieutenant colonel in the Roscommon Militia. In 1803, he married the Lady Frances Anne King, daughter of Edward, 1st Earl of Kingston. As a result, this branch of the family became known as the King-Tenisons. At this stage the King-Tenisons held extensive estates, with over 17, 726 acres to their name in Roscommon alone. Within the year, Colonel King-Tenison and his new bride would demolish their humble house and build a residence fit for a family of their great stature – Castle Tenison.

At the end of a short tree-lined avenue, on the banks of the beautiful Lough Meelagh, their new home consisted of a magnificent three storeys, with three bay-symmetrical castellated blocks and slender corner turrets. The well-proportioned rooms and delicate fan-vaulting plaster work on the stairs and landing made it a spacious and costly modern-built edifice and one worthy of their name.

From extension to destruction

In 1876, Lieutenant-Colonel Edward King-Tenison, the 12th Earl of Kingston, and his wife Lady Louisa, extended the castle to five storeys. They also added a magnificent over-basement baronial tower and battlements. The Earl and Countess of Kingston enjoyed the estate immensely and the quality of the shooting available on their grounds drew people from across Ireland to share in their incredible home.

Unfortunately, the political and social change that was happening in Ireland at that time ensured their stays in their home became less and less frequent. Although fully furnished, the castle was seldom occupied and was eventually closed and sold along with many other great country estates in Ireland at that time. While religious orders and, at one time the Free State Military, ensured the castle remained unoccupied, the contents of the castle were sold by auction in 1939 and the roof was even removed in the 1950s in an attempt to mitigate taxation.

A labour of unrivalled love

By 2004, all that remained was the perimeter walls and a huge challenge for the new owners, the Hanly Group. In 2006, Irish Father & Son Albert and Alan Hanly undertook a significant restoration project to rejuvenate Kilronan Castle into the luxury castle estate and spa. Combined with the painstaking sourcing and procurement of many antique fixtures and fittings, original paintings of some of the extended members of the Tenison family were also acquired. What’s more, historians and curators were also commissioned to ensure faithful attention to detail including the sensitive selection of interior design and materials from a bygone era. A secluded location, standard-setting craftsmanship, breathtaking views and the perfect blend of old-world elegance and new-world luxury, has turned Kilronan Castle from a forgotten ruin into a truly magical destination once again.

[1] https://visitgalway.ie/ardamullivan-castle/ 

[2] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/30408401/castle-ellen-castle-ellen-galway

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

[4]

To read a fantastic summary of the history of Castle Ellen and more information on the house, read David Hicks blog here.

There has also been some fantastic work carried out by Patricia Boran (and her colleagues) at NUIG where they compiled a Landed Estates Database, which is a searchable, online database of all Landed Estates in Connacht and Munster. This database is maintained by the Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies, National University of Ireland, Galway. The Lambers (of Castle Ellen) can be found here.
A detailed genealogical study of the Lambert family can be found at Andy Lambert’s Lambert Family 

Homepage.

[5] http://davidhicksbook.blogspot.com

[6] https://visitgalway.ie/claregalway-castle/

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

[8] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/30404211/lisdonagh-house-lisdonagh-co-galway

[9] https://visitgalway.ie/lisdonagh-house/

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

[11] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/30315003/yeats-college-college-road-townparksst-nicholas-parish-galway-co-galway

[12] Dublin City Library and Archives. https://repository.dri.ie

[13] https://visitgalway.ie/abbeyglen-castle/

Places to visit and stay in Leinster: Longford, Louth and Meath

Accommodation is in red. Section 482 properties are in purple.

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;

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

€€€ – over €250 per night for two.

Whole house accommodation listings are for 10 or more people.

Longford:

1. Castlecor House, County Longford, open by previous arrangement.

2. Maria Edgeworth Visitor Centre, Longford, County Longford.

3. Moorhill House, Castlenugent, Lisryan, Co. Longford – section 482

Places to stay, County Longford:

1. Castlecor House, County Longford

2. Newcastle House Hotel, Ballymahon, County Longford.

3. Viewmount House, Longford

Louth

1. Barmeath Castle, Dunleer, Drogheda, Co. Louth – section 482

2. Castle Bellingham, Co. Louth 

3. Collon House, County Louth

4. Killineer House & Garden, Drogheda, Co. Louth – section 482

5. Rokeby Hall, Grangebellew, Co. Louth – section 482

Places to stay, County Louth:

1. Ballymascanlon House, Louth  – hotel 

2. Collon House, Ardee Street, Collon, Louth [also Oriel Temple] – B&B, plus guided tours 

3. Ghan House, Co Louth – accommodation 

4.  Hatch’s Castle, Ardee, Co Louth – accommodation

Whole House Rental, County Louth:

1. Barmeath Castle, Dunleer, Drogheda, Co. Louth – section 482, €€€ for two, € for 6-12

2. Castle Bellingham, co. Louth 

Meath

1. Balrath, Kells, Co Meath –  accommodation and sometimes open for visits

2. Beau Parc House, Beau Parc, Navan, Co. Meath – section 482

3. Cillghrian Glebe now known as Boyne House Slane, Chapel Street, Slane, Co. Meath – section 482

4. Dardistown Castle, Dardistown, Julianstown, Co. Meath – section 482

5. Dunsany Castle, Dunsany, Co. Meath – section 482

6. Gravelmount House, Castletown, Kilpatrick, Navan, Co. Meath – section 482

7. Hamwood House, Dunboyne, Co. Meath – section 482

8. Kilgar Gardens, Kilgar house, Gallow, Kilcock, Co Meath W23E7FK

9. Killeen Mill, Clavinstown, Drumree, Co. Meath – section 482

10. Loughcrew House, Loughcrew, Old Castle, Co. Meath – section 482

11. Moyglare House, Moyglare, Co. Meath – section 482

12. Oldbridge House, County Meath – Battle of the Boyne Museum – OPW

13. Slane Castle, Slane, Co. Meath – section 482

14. St. Mary’s Abbey, High Street, Trim, Co. Meath – section 482

15. The Former Parochial House, Slane, Co. Meath – section 482

16. Swainstown House, Kilmessan, Co. Meath – section 482

17. Tankardstown House, Rathkenny, Slane, Co. Meath – section 482

18. Trim Castle, County Meath – OPW

Places to stay, County Meath:

1. Balrath, Kells, Co Meath –  accommodation 

2. Bellinter House near Bective, County Meath – hotel and restaurant 

3. Cillghrian Glebe now known as Boyne House Slane, Chapel Street, Slane, Co. Meath

4. Clonleason Gate Lodge, Fordstown, County Meath: Hidden Ireland

5. Crow’s Hermitage, Ardcath, County Meath

6. Dardistown Castle, Dardistown, Julianstown, Co. Meath – section 482

7. Highfield House, Trim, County Meath

8. Johnstown Estate, Enfield, Co Meath – hotel

9. Killyon manor, County Meath, holiday cottages

10. Killeen Mill, Clavinstown, Drumree, Co. Meath – section 482

11. Moyglare House, Moyglare, Co. Meath – section 482

12. Rosnaree, Slane, Co Meath – accommodation 

13. Ross Castle, Mountnugent, County Meath whole castle €€€ for 2, € for 10 or self-catering accommodation €

14. Tankardstown House, Rathkenny, Slane, Co. Meath – section 482

Whole house booking/wedding venues, County Meath

1. Boyne Hill estate, Navan, County Meath – whole house rental

2. Durhamstown Castle, Bohermeen, County Meath – whole house rental

3. Loughcrew House, Loughcrew, Old Castle, Co. Meath – section 482

4. Mill House, Slane

5. Ross Castle, Mountnugent, County Meath whole castle €€€ for 2, € for 10 or self-catering accommodation €

Longford:

1. Castlecor House, County Longford, open by previous arrangement:

https://castlecorhouse.com/

Castlecor House, County Longford, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage [1]

I’ve been looking forward to staying in Castlecor house, after seeing a photograph of its incredible octagonal room.

Castlecor House, County Longford, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage [1]

The website tells us:

The construction of this magnificent residence, as it stands today, spanned 300 years, originally built in the mid 1700’s as a Hunting Lodge with additions in the 19th & 20th century. 

The website continues: “It was built by the Very Revd. Cutts Harman (1706 – 1784), son of the important Harman family of nearby Newcastle House [which offers accommodation]. He was Dean of Waterford cathedral from 1759 and was married to Bridget Gore (1723-1762) from Tashinny [Tennalick, now a ruin, which passed from the Sankey family to the Gore family by the marriage of Bridget’s mother Bridget Sankey to George Gore, son of Sir Arthur Gore, 1st Baronet of Newtown Gore, County Mayo] in c. 1740.

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (www.buildingsofIreland.ie) gives the building an unusually long appraisal which explains the unusual building:

It was originally built as a symmetrical two-storey block on octagonal-plan with short (single-room) projecting wings to four sides (in cross pattern on alternating sides), and with tall round-headed window openings between to the remaining four walls. The single wide room to the octagon at first floor level has an extraordinary central chimneypiece (on square-plan) with marble fireplaces to its four faces; which are framed by Corinthian columns that support richly-detailed marble entablatures over. The marble fireplaces themselves are delicately detailed with egg-and-dart mouldings and are probably original. This room must rank as one of the most unusual and interesting rooms built anywhere in Ireland during the eighteenth-century.

Castlecor House, County Longford, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “The single wide room to the octagon at first floor level has an extraordinary central chimneypiece (on square-plan) with marble fireplaces to its four faces; which are framed by Corinthian columns that support richly-detailed marble entablatures over. The marble fireplaces themselves are delicately detailed with egg-and-dart mouldings and are probably original.” [1]
Castlecor House, County Longford, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “The walls of the octagonal room are decorated with Neo-Egyptian artwork.” [1]
Castlecor House, County Longford, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage [1]

The National Inventory continues: “The walls of the octagonal room are decorated with Neo-Egyptian artwork, which may have been inspired by illustrations in Owen Jones’ book ‘Decoration’, published in 1856. The inspiration for this distinctive octagonal block is not known. Some sources suggest an Italian inspiration, such as the pattern books of the noted architect Sebastiano Serlio (1475 – 1554) [Mark Bence-Jones suggests this [2]], or that it was based on the designs of the much larger hunting lodge (Palazzina di caccia of Stupinigi) that was built for the Duke of Savoy, near Turin, between 1729 and c. 1731 (The later seems a highly fanciful idea but there are some similarities in plan, albeit on a much larger scale at Stupinigi); while Craig (1977, 15) suggests that the ‘inspiration is clearly the hunting lodge at Clemenswerth in Lower Saxony, Germany’, which was constructed between 1737 – 1747 to designs by Johann Conrad Schlaun for Prince Clemens August, a structure that Castlecor resembles in terms of scale and plan. However, it may be that the plan of this building was inspired by William Halfpenny (died 1755), an English Palladian architect who created a number of unexecuted designs for Waterford Church of Ireland cathedral and for an associated bishop’s palace from c. 1739. Interestingly, a number of these unexecuted plans for the bishop’s palace included a central octagonal block with projecting wings, while a number of the church plans included an unusual separate baptismal building attached to the nave, which is also on an octagonal-plan. The Very Revd. Cutts Harman may well have been aware of Halfpenny’s unexecuted designs, being Dean of the cathedral from 1759 and was probably associated with the diocese from an earlier date, and perhaps he used these as his inspiration for the designs of Castlecor. The central four-sided chimneypiece is reminiscent of the centerpiece of the Rotunda of Ranelagh Gardens, London, (built to designs by William Jones 1741 – 2; demolished c. 1803) albeit on a much reduced scale at Castlecor. The plan of Castlecor is also similar to a number of buildings (some not executed) in Scotland, including Hamilton Parish Church (built c. 1733 to designs by William Adam (1698 – 1748) and the designs for a small Neoclassical villa prepared by James Adam (1732 – 92), c. 1765, for Sir Thomas Kennedy. The exact construction date of Castlecor is not known, however the traditional building date is usual given as c. 1765. The architectural detailing to the interior of the original block, and perhaps the personal life of Very Revd. Cutts Harman (married in 1751 to a daughter of Lord Annaly of Tennalick 13402348; his duties at Waterford cathedral from 1759; Cutts Harmon leased out a number of plots of land in Longford from c. 1768) would suggest an earlier date of, perhaps, the 1740s. The architect is also unknown although it is possible that Harman designed the house himself (perhaps inspired by a pattern book or by Halfpenny’s unexecuted designs); while Craig (1977) suggest that the architect may have been Davis Ducart (Daviso de Arcort; died 1780/1), an Italian or French architect and engineer who worked extensively in Ireland (particularly the southern half of the island) during the 1760s and 1770s.” We saw Ducart’s work at Kilshannig in County Cork, another section 482 property, see my entry [3].

Castlecor House, County Longford, see the octagonal Great Hall in the centre of the house. photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage [1].
Castlecor House, County Longford, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage [1]
Castlecor House, County Longford, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage [1]

The website tells us:”The Rev. Cutts Harman who had Castlecor built died without issue, it was inherited by his niece’s son [or was it his sister Anne’s son? If so, it was her son Lawrence Harman Parsons (1749-1807); she married Laurence Parsons, 3rd Baronet of Birr Castle. Her son added Harman to his surname when he inherited Castlecor from his uncle], Laurence Harman- Harman, later Lord Oxmantown, and finally Earl of Rosse. Peyton Johnston, the Earl’s nephew, rented the house during this time. Captain Thomas Hussey, Royal Marines; purchased Castlecor in c.I820. There is very little documentary evidence relative to Captain Hussey’s occupancy. He resided there from 1832/3 to 1856 and was High Sheriff of Longford.

Mark Bence-Jones adds: “To make the house more habitable, a conventional two storey front was built onto it early in C19, either by Peyton Johnston, who rented the house after it had been inherited by the Earl of Rosse, or by Thomas Hussey, the subsequent tenant who bought the property ante 1825. This front joins two of the wings so that its ends and theirs form obtuse angles. In the space between it and the octagon is a top-lit stair. Early in the present century, a wider front of two storeys and three bays in C18 manner, with a tripartite pedimented doorway, was built onto the front of the early C19 front. Castlecor subsequently passed to a branch of the Bonds, and was eventually inherited by Mrs C. J. Clerk (nee Bond).”

Castlecor House, County Longford, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage [1]

The National Inventory continues to tell us the history of the house: “The building was extended c. 1850 (the house appears on its original plan on the Ordnance Survey first edition six-inch map 1838) by the construction of a two-storey block to the northeast corner of the house, between two of the wings of the original structure. The earlier wing to the west may have been extended at this time also. The lion’s head motifs to the rainwater goods throughout the building (built around and before c. 1850) are very similar to those found at the gate lodge serving Castlecor to the northwest, built c. 1855, suggesting that the house was altered at this time, possibly as part of wider program of works at the estate.”

The lion’s head motifs to the rainwater goods throughout the building: Castlecor House, County Longford, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage [1]

The National Inventory continues: “The projection to the south wing having the box bay window also looks of mid-to-late nineteenth century date and may also have been added at this time. The Castlecor estate was bought by the Hussey family during the late-eighteenth century following the death of Cutts Harman, and the first series of works may have been carried out when Capt. Thomas Hussey (1777 – 1866), High Sheriff of Longford from 1840 – 44, was in residence. However, the Castlecor estate was offered for sale by Commissioners of Incumbered Estates in 1855 when it was bought by a branch of the Bond family and, perhaps, the house was extended just after this date by the new owners. The Bonds were an important landed family in Longford at the time, and owned a number of estates to the centre of the county, to the north of Castlecor, and a branch also lived at adjacent Moygh/Moigh House (13402606) [still standing and in private hands] during the second half of the nineteenth century. Thomas Bond (1786 – 1869) [of Edgeworthstown] was probably the first Bond in residence at Castlecor. A John Bond, later of Castlecor, was High Sheriff of Longford in 1856. The last Bond owner/resident was probably a Mrs Clerk (nee Bond) [Emily Constance Smyth Bond] who was in residence in 1920. She married a Charles James Clerk (J.P. and High Sheriff of Longford in 1906) in 1901/2, and he was responsible for the three-bay two-storey block that now forms the main entrance, built c. 1913. This block was built to designs by A. G. C. Millar, an architect based on Kildare Street, Dublin. This block is built in a style that is reminiscent of a mid-eighteenth century house, having a central pedimented tripartite doorcase and a rigid symmetry to the front elevation. The house became a convent (Ladies of Mary) sometime after 1925 until c. 1980, and was later in use as a nursing home until c. 2007. This building, particularly the original block, is one of the more eccentric and interesting elements of the built heritage of Longford, and forms the centrepiece of a group of related structures.” [1]

The website tells us that the four wings adjoining the original octagonal hunting lodge align with the four cardinal compass points.

In 2009, the current owners Loretta Grogan and Brian Ginty set about purchasing the house, with the aspiration to restore Castlecor House, its grounds, native woodland and walled garden with pond and orchard to its former glory, opening it to the public by appointment and also welcoming guests.

2. Maria Edgeworth Visitor Centre, Longford, County Longford.

https://www.discoverireland.ie/longford/the-maria-edgeworth-visitor-centre

Maria Edgeworth Visitors Centre, Edgeworthstown, Co Longford, photo by Dympna Reilly 2020 ©Longford County Council, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [15])

The Maria Edgeworth Centre, in County Longford, is located in one of Ireland’s oldest school buildings that opened in 1841. Using a combination of audio, imagery and interactive displays, the centre tells the story of the Edgeworth family and the origins of the National School system. You will also learn about the role the family played in the educational, scientific, political and cultural life in Ireland. Maria Edgeworth was a notable pioneer of literature and education, a feminist and a social commentator of her time. Audios and displays are available in seven languages.”

3. Moorhill House, Castlenugent, Lisryan, Co. Longford – section 482

contact: Michael O’Donnell
Tel: 047-81952
Open: Aug 1-31, Sept 1-29, 9.30am-1.30pm
Fee: adult/OAP/student/child €8

Moorhill House, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.[4]

The National Inventory describes it:

Detached three-bay two-storey over basement house on L-shaped plan, built c. 1815, having two-storey-storey return to rear (northwest) with pitched slate roof. Two-storey extension attached to the northwest end of rear return. Recently renovated. Possibly incorporating fabric of earlier building/structure. …This appealing and well-proportioned middle-sized house, of early nineteenth-century appearance, retains its early form, character and fabric. Its form is typical of houses of its type and date in rural Ireland, with a three-bay two-storey main elevation, hipped natural slate roof with a pair of centralised chimneystacks, and central round-headed door opening with fanlight. The influence of classicism can be seen in the tall ground floor window openings and the rigid symmetry to the front facade. The simple doorcase with the delicate petal fanlight over provides a central focus and enlivens the plain front elevation. The return to the rear has unusually thick walls and a relative dearth of openings, possibly indicating that it contains earlier fabric. This house forms an interesting group with the entrance gates to the southeast, the outbuildings (13401509) and walled garden to the rear, and the highly ornate railings to the southwest side featuring a sinuous vine leaf motif. The quality of these railings is such that their appearance is equally fine from both sides, the vine leaves being cast in three dimensions. They are notable examples of their type and date, and add substantial to the setting of this fine composition, which is an important element of the built heritage of the local area. Moorhill was the home of a R. (Robert or Richard) Blackall, Esq. in 1837 (Lewis). The Blackalls were an important family in the locality and built nearby Coolamber Manor c. 1837 [built for Major Samuel Wesley Blackhall (1809 – 1871)…to designs by the eminent architect John Hargrave (c. 1788 – 1833). Hargrave worked extensively in County Longford during the 1820s and was responsible for the designs for the governor’s house at Longford Town Jail in 1824; works at Ardagh House in 1826; the rebuilding of St. Paul’s Church of Ireland church at Newtown-Forbes; the remodelling of Castle Forbes, nearby Farragh/Farraghroe House (demolished); Doory Hall now ruinous; St. Paul’s Church of Ireland church, Ballinalee; and possibly for the designs of St. Catherine’s Church of Ireland church at nearby Killoe. …and [Coolamber Manor] may have replaced an earlier house associated with the Blackall family at Coolamber (a Robert Blackall (1764 – 1855), father of the above, lived in Longford in the late-eighteenth century)].

Moorhill House “was possibly the home of Robert Blackall, the father of Samuel Wensley, who was responsible for the construction of Coolamber Manor and later served as M.P. (1847 – 51) for the county before serving as Governor of Queensland, Australia from 1868 until his death in 1871. Moorhill may have been the residence of a Francis Taylor in 1894 (Slater’s Directory).”

Places to stay, County Longford:

1. Castlecor House, County Longford – see above

https://castlecorhouse.com/

2. Newcastle House Hotel, Ballymahon, County Longford

https://www.newcastlehousehotel.ie

Newcastle House (now a hotel), County Longford, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]

Newcastle House is a 300-year-old manor house, set on the banks of the River Inny near Ballymahon, in Co. Longford.

The website tells us; “Standing on 44 acres of mature parkland and surrounded by 900 acres of forest, Newcastle House is only one and half hour’s drive from Dublin, making it an excellent base to see, explore and enjoy the natural wonders of Ireland. So whether you are looking for a peaceful place to stay (to get away from it all) or perhaps need a location to hold an event, or that most important wedding, give us a call.”

The website previously included a brief history of the inhabitants of Newcastle:

Newcastle Wood was once part of Newcastle Demesne, an estate of some 11,000 hectares run by the King- Harman family in the 1800’s. The beautiful, historic nearby Newcastle House was where the King- Harmans lived and there are many features and place names in the woodland which refer back to that time.

We came across Lawrence Harman Parsons (1749-1807) who became the 1st Earl of Rosse, and who added Harman to his surname to become Lawrence Harman Parsons Harman, when he inherited Castlecor in County Longford. He married Jane King, daughter of Edward Thomas King, 1st Earl of Kingston, from Boyle, County Roscommon. They had a daughter, Frances Parsons-Harmon, who married Robert Edward King (1773-1854), 1st Viscount Lorton of Boyle, County Roscommon. Their second son, Lawrence Harman King assumed the additional name of Harman to become Lawrence Harman King-Harman (1816-1875). It was his family who lived at Newcastle Wood.

The old website continued: “The King- Harmans were generally regarded as good landlords by the local populace. They employed many local people in all sorts of trades. The last of the King- Harmans died in 1949. King- Harman sold lands to the Forestry Department in 1934 and over the following two years it was planted with a mixture of coniferous and broadleaf trees.

Newcastle House (now a hotel), County Longford, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]

Then National Inventory describes the house:

Detached double-pile seven-bay three-storey over basement former country house, built c. 1730 and altered and extended at various dates throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth century, having curvilinear Dutch-type gable to the central bay and later gable-fronted single-bay single-storey entrance porch with matching curvilinear Dutch-type gable to the centre of the main block (southeast elevation), built c. 1820. Advanced three-bay single-storey over basement wing flanking main block to northeast, and advanced four-bay two-storey over basement wing flanking main block to southwest, both built c. 1785. Recessed single-bay single-storey over basement Tudor Gothic style addition attached to northeast elevation having gable-fronted rear elevation and chamfered corners at ground floor level having dressed ashlar limestone masonry , built c. 1850, and two-storey extension to southwest, built c. 1880. Possibly incorporating the fabric of earlier house(s) to site c. 1660. Later in use as a convent and now in use as a hotel…Round-headed door opening to front face of porch (southeast) having carved limestone surround with architrave, square-headed timber battened door with decorative cast-iron hinge motifs, wrought-iron overlight, and having moulded render label moulding over.Painted stuccoed ceilings and ceiling cornices, some with a neoclassical character, a number of early panelled timber doors and marble fireplaces survive to interior...” [5]

Newcastle House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “Round-headed door opening to front face of porch (southeast) having carved limestone surround with architrave, square-headed timber battened door with decorative cast-iron hinge motifs, wrought-iron overlight, and having moulded render label moulding over.” The Inventory tells us that the carved coat of arms is probably of the King family. [5]
Newcastle House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “Painted stuccoed ceilings and ceiling cornices, some with a neoclassical character.” [5]

Before belonging to the King-Harman family, Newcastle belonged to the Sheppard family. It came to the King-Harman family through the marriage of Frances Sheppard (d. 1766) daughter of Anthony Sheppard of Newcastle to Wentworth Harman (d. 1714) of Moyle, County Longford.

The National Inventory adds:

The lands and house at Newcastle were successively in the possession of the Chappoyne/Chappayne/Choppin, the Sheppard, the Harman and the King-Harman families. The earliest mention of the estate is references to an Anthony Chappoyne at Newcastle in 1660, although this may have been the site of an earlier ‘castle’ from as early as the fourteenth century (as the placename suggests). In 1680 a Robert Choppayne appears to have purchased/consolidated the lands of Newcastle from Gerald Fitzgerald, 17th Earl of Kildare. Dowdall (1682) describes the site as ‘..on the southside of the river is Newcastle, the antient Estate of the Earl of Kildare now the estate and habitation of Robert Choppin Esqr where he hath lately built a fair house and a wooden bridge over said river’. The estate passed into the ownership of Anthony Sheppard (born 1668 – 1738), heir (son?) of Robert Chappoyne, c. 1693, who served as High Sheriff of County Longford in 1698. His son, also Anthony, was M.P. for Longford in 1727. The estate later passed by marriage into the ownership into the Harman family at the very end of the seventeenth century. Robert Harman (1699 – 1765; M.P. for Longford c. 1760 -5) [son of Wentworth Harman and Frances Sheppard] was in possession of the estate of much of the middle of the eighteenth century and it is likely that he was responsible for much of the early work on the house. The Very Revd. Cutts Harman, who built the quirky hunting/fishing lodge at nearby Castlecor, inherited the house c. 1765 following the death of his brother Robert. The estate later passed into the ownership of Lawrence Parsons-Harman (1749 – 1807) in 1784 (M.P. for Longford 1776 – 1792; Baron Oxmantown in 1792; Viscount Oxmantown in 1795; Earl of Rosse 1806; sat was one of the original Irish Representative Peers in the British House of Lords) and he greatly increased the Newcastle estate, and by his death (1807) its size had doubled to approximately 31,000 acres in size. It is likely that he was responsible for the construction of the side wings to the main block and general improvements to the house from 1784. The estate passed into the ownership of his wife Jane, Countess of Rosse (who partially funded the construction of a number of Church of Ireland churches and funded a number of schools in County Longford during the first half of the nineteenth century), who left the estate to her grandson Laurence King-Harman (1816 – 1878) after falling out with her son. Laurence King-Harman has probably responsible for the vaguely Tudor Gothic extension to the northeast elevation. The brick chimneystacks also look of mid-nineteenth century date and may have been added around the same time this wing was constructed. The King family had extensive estates in Ireland during the nineteenth century, owning the magnificent Rockingham House (demolished) and King House [also a Section 482 property which I hope to visit later this year], Boyle, both in County Roscommon; as well as Mitchelstown Castle in County Cork, burnt in 1922 (memorial plaques and carved stone heads from Mitchelstown Castle were built into the northeast elevation of Newcastle House c. 1925, but have been removed and returned to Cork in recent years). The estate reached its largest extent in 1888, some 38,616 acres in size, when Wentworth Henry King-Harman was in residence. The estate was described in 1900 as ‘a master-piece of smooth and intricate organisation, with walled gardens and glasshouses, its diary, its laundry, its carpenters, masons and handymen of all estate crafts, the home farm, the gamekeepers and retrievers kennels, its saw-mill and paint shop and deer park for the provision of venison. The place is self supporting to a much greater degree than most country houses in England’. The estate went in to decline during the first decades of the twentieth century, and with dwindled in size to 800 acres by 1911. The house and estate remained in the ownership of the King-Harman family until c. 1951, when Capt. Robert Douglas King-Harman sold the house to an order of African Missionary nuns (house and contents sold for £11,000). It was later in use as a hotel from c. 1980.” [5]

3. Viewmount House, Longford

http://www.viewmounthouse.com

Viewmount House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [6]

The website tells us:

Discover this boutique gem, a secret tucked away in the heart of Ireland. This magnificent 17th century manor is complemented by its incredible countryside surroundings, and by the four acres of meticulously-maintained garden that surround it. Within the manor you’ll find a place of character, with open fires, beautiful furniture, fresh flowers and Irish literature. The manor retains its stately, historic charm, and blends it with thoughtful renovation that incorporates modern comfort.

Here, you will unwind into the exceptionally relaxing atmosphere, a restful world where all you hear is peace, quiet and birdsong.

This house was advertised for sale in recent years. The National Inventory describes it:

Detached three-bay three-storey house, built c. 1750 and remodeled c. 1860, having single-bay single-storey porch with flat roof to the centre of the front elevation (north). Renovated c. 1994. Formerly in use as a Church of Ireland charter school (c. 1753 – 1826)…This elegant mid-sized Georgian house is a fine example of the language of classical architecture reduced to its essential elements. It retains its early character and form despite recent alterations….Set in extensive mature grounds, this fine structure is a worthy addition to the architectural heritage of County Longford….This house was the home of the Cuffe family during the first half of the eighteenth century. It was later inherited by Thomas Pakenham (later [1st] Baron Longford [of Pakenham Hall, or Tullynally, County Westmeath, another section 482 property, see my entry]) following his marriage to Elizabeth Cuffe (1714-94) in 1739 or 1740. It is possible that Viewmount House was constructed shortly after this date and it may have replaced an earlier Cuffe family house on or close to the present site. The house was never lived in by the Pakenham family but it was used by their agent to administer the Longford estate, c. 1860. It was apparently in use as a charter school from 1753 until 1826, originally founded under the patronage of Thomas Pakenham. There is a ‘charter school’ indicated here (or close to here) on the Taylor and Skinner map (from Maps of the Roads of Ireland) of the area, dated between 1777 – 1783. A ‘free charter school’ at Knockahaw, Longford Town, with 32 boys, is mentioned in an Irish Education Board Report, dated 1826 – 7 (Ir. Educ. Rept 2, 692 – 3).” [6]

Louth

1. Barmeath Castle, Dunleer, Drogheda, Co. Louth – section 482

Barmeath, County Louth, October 2019.

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/10/23/barmeath-castle-dunleer-drogheda-county-louth/

contact: Bryan Bellew
Tel: 041-6851205
Open: May 1-31, June 1-10, Aug 13-21, Oct 1-10, 9am-1pm Fee: adult /OAP/student €5, child free

2. Bellingham Castle, co. Louth – for weddings, and open to public for visits: open to the public between the hours of 1pm and 3pm, Monday to Friday for viewing year-round. Please call in advance to ensure there is somebody at the castle to show you around! (Closed December 24, 25 and 26)

Castle Bellingham, County Louth, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.[11]

https://www.bellinghamcastle.ie

The website tells us:

At Bellingham Castle, the welcome is warm, the facilities luxurious and the memories, eternal. Nestled in the medieval village of Castlebellingham in County Louth along Ireland’s Ancient East, Bellingham Castle is an elegant and spacious 17th Century authentic Irish Castle available for exclusive hire, to allow you become King or Queen of your very own castle for a truly memorable experience. The Castle opens for overnight stays on select dates throughout the year, but is predominantly a venue for spectacular Weddings, conferences or events.

Set at the gateway to the Cooley mountains and on the banks of the glistening River Glyde, Bellingham Castle is the centrepiece of a 17-acre estate that includes a weir and man-made river island where you can create memories that last a lifetime. The opulent 17th Century Irish castle is bursting with rich history, splendour and old-world luxury.

Fully refurbished, yet retaining all of its character and charm, Bellingham Castle prides itself on elegance and sophistication, intimacy and cosiness, luxury and exclusivity – all just 50 minutes from both Dublin and Belfast.

We wanted to create something different at Bellingham Castle, an exquisite combination of a welcoming atmosphere and luxury castle experience. From dreamy and palatial bedrooms, to magnificent reception rooms and meticulously manicured gardens, we ensure each guest enjoys high-quality, bespoke service in an idyllic and inspirational location.

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Castle Bellingham (1988):

p. 62. “The original castle here, called Gernonstown, which was acquired by Henry Bellingham [1622-1676] mid C17, was burnt by King James’s soldiers before the battle of the Boyne, when its then owner, Colonel Thomas Bellingham, was fighting for King William. Col Bellingham built a new house 1690/1700 [the National Inventory says 1712] and named it Castle Bellingham; it had a high-pitched roof and is said to have resembled Beaulieu, in the same county. Mrs Delany described it (1745) as “one of the prettiest places I have seen in Ireland.” The house was remodelled in later C18, when a third storey was added, and again in early C19, when it ws given a battlemented parapet, some turrets and a few other mildly dedieval touches. The final result was not so much a castle as a castellated house, with plain Georgian sash windows. The nine bay entrance front, which appears to be only of two storeys owing to the higher ground on this side; the entrance, through a Gothic porch not centrally placed, is, in fact, on the first floor, where the principal rooms are situated. The oppostie front, which also just misses being symmetrical – with three bays on one side of a shallow, curving bow and two bays and a turret on the other – which also has a curved bow. Simple, pleasant rooms; a small staircase in a narrow hall at right angles to the entrance. Garden with terraces overlooking the river Glyde, formerly adorned with statues brought from Dubber Castle, the seat of another branch of the Bellinghams; vista to shrine of the Virgin Mary, ereced by Henry Bellingham, a convert to Catholicism during the later years of the Oxford Movement. Straight avenue aligned on the entrance front of the house, terminated at the opposite end by a castellated gatehouse facing the village green. Having been sold by the Bellinghams ca 1956, Castle Bellingham is now an hotel.” 

The website gives a further history of the castle:

Bellingham Castle served as one of the ancestral homes for the Bellingham family from the 17th Century until the 1950s. The original castle was built around 1660 by Sir Henry Bellingham, who was a cornet in the Army during the Civil War.

He purchased the lands of Gernonstowne, Co. Louth, from a fellow soldier who had been granted them in lieu of arrears of pay. The purchase was confirmed by King Charles II.

There is some variation on the spelling of Gernonstowne. On various maps and other documents, it is spelled Gernonstowne, Gernonstown, Gernon’s-Town, Gormanstown, Germanstown, Garlandstown and Garland.

Irish road signs show the English as Castlebellingham, while the Irish translation still refers to Baile an Ghearlanaigh – or Gernonstown. It was not called Castlebellingham for at least 40 years after the purchase. The name does not appear on any document before the year 1700. Around 1710, it began to appear in journals and other sources as Castlebellingham.

The castle was occupied by troops and burned down in the autumn of 1689 by King James II, in revenge for Colonel Thomas Bellingham [son of Henry? 1645-1721?] being a guide for William III, prior to the Battle of the Boyne. It is said that King William’s armies camped the night before the Battle of the Boyne in the grounds of the castle.

Thomas Bellingham had two sons. The estate passed to his grandson Alan Bellingham (1709-1796). It then passed to his son, another Alan (1740-1800). Alan’s brother William married  Hester Frances Cholmondeley, daughter of Rev. Hon. Robert Cholmondeley and was created 1st Baronet Bellingham, of Castle Bellingham, co. Louth. His nephew Alan (1776-1827), son of Alan, became 2nd Baronet Bellingham of Castle Bellingham, County Louth.

The website continues: “Over time, Castlebellingham became an important gathering point in the county. Fairs were held there every year and a church was constructed next door to the castle, along with a graveyard that houses the Bellingham family vault. The Bellinghams became one of the most powerful and influential families in the county; for over 100 years, a Bellingham held the seat in Parliament for County Louth.

Records also note Castlebellingham for having ‘the best malt liquor’ in Ireland. A brewery was built on site about 1770 and belonged to an O’Bryen Bellingham [a son of Alan Bellingham]. For a number of years, a brewery partnership ran their liquor business. The brewery is still there but now houses the ‘button factory’ or Smallwares Ltd. The brewery was the main supplier of drink to the Boer War troops.

A history of the parish, dated 1908, states that the impressive Calvary standing at the entrance to Bellingham Castle was erected by Sir Henry Bellingham as a monument to the memory of his first wife, Lady Constance.

A collection of inset religious panels can be seen on the upper facades of many of the village buildings. These are also a reflection of Sir Henry’s religious sentiments, and they are unique in Ireland. In addition to the many panels, there are biblical quotations cut into the stone window sills of some buildings. North of the castle is a carefully preserved group of ‘widows’ dwellings’, built from charitable motives by Sir Henry.

In 1905, Bellingham Castle was the venue for the romantic wedding celebrations of Augusta Mary Monica Bellingham, daughter of Sir Alan Bellingham [1846-1921], 4th Baronet ; to the 4th Marquis of Bute, John Crichton-Stuart.

The Marquis, who was one of the wealthiest men in the British Isles at the time, spared no expense and treated his bride and guests to a lavish celebration, including chartering the Princess Maud steamer to take their guests and the Isle of Bute pipe band across the Irish Sea to Bellingham Castle for the wedding. As the society event of the year, the wedding attracted worldwide media attention, from California to New Zealand.

Footage from the wedding celebrations still exists. This remarkable film is believed to be the one of the earliest wedding films in the world. Bellingham Castle is clearly depicted in the footage, together with scenes at nearby Kilsaran Church and the village of Annagassan, from where the wedding party and their guests arrived and departed by steamer.

Castlebellingham was the ancestral home of the Baronetcy until the late 1950s. The last Bellingham to live there was Brigadier General Sir Edward Bellingham, born in 1879, who was the last Lord Lieutenant and Guardian of the Rolls (Custos Rotulorum).

It was purchased by Dermot Meehan in 1958 from the Irish Land Commission for £3,065.00. Mr Meehan spent several years converting the house into a hotel. The Meehan family sold the hotel and 17 acres in 1967 for £30,636.61 to Mr John Keenan and under the Keenan family stewardship, the castle prospered over the following four decades.

In December 2012, the castle – including the 17 acres – was acquired by the Corscadden family. The family also own Ballyseede Castle in Tralee, Co. Kerry; Cabra Castle, Kingscourt, Co. Cavan, and Markree Castle, Co. Sligo.

The next chapter in the history of Bellingham Castle has begun, as an exclusive venue for private weddings, civil ceremonies, conferences, meetings and corporate events.

Bellingham Castle is a building of intrinsic historical and architectural interest and is open to the public between the hours of 1pm and 3pm, Monday to Friday for viewing year-round. Please call in advance to ensure there is somebody at the castle to show you around! (Closed December 24, 25 and 26).

3. Collon House, County Louth

Collon House, County Louth, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage [7]

https://www.collonhouse.com

The website tells us:

Collon House, steeped in history, is full of character and charm; its gracious rooms are exquisitely furnished with period antiques and paintings, retaining the atmosphere of early Georgian living, making this a rare opportunity to experience less than one hour from Dublin City Centre, thirty minutes from Dublin Airport and just five miles from historic Slane.

Collon House is a perfect location from which to enjoy the wonderful treasures of the Boyne Valley. Bru na Boinne (Newgrange) prehistoric megalithic sites, The Battle of the Boyne visitors centre at Oldbridge, Slane Castle, Old Mellifont Abbey and Monasterboice High Crosses are all less than twenty minutes drive from Collon House.

The Historic Houses of Ireland (HHI) website tells us:

Anthony Foster [1705-1778], Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, purchased the Collon estate in 1740 and chose to build in the centre of the County Louth village, now a market town on the road from Dublin to Derry. His early Georgian house was extended in the 1770s to form a substantial L-shaped dwelling, set back from the street at the central crossroads. The original dwelling is long and low but the later building is taller and more generous in scale with more elaborate interiors and a “handsome half-turn stair” that gives access to the upper floors.” [8]

Anthony Foster married Elizabeth Burgh of Bert House (now called de Burgh Manor, available as a whole house rental, see my entry www.irishhistorichouses.com/2022/04/27/places-to-visit-and-to-stay-leinster-kildare-kilkenny-laois/), County Kildare.

The HHI website continues: 

Anthony’s son John [1740-1828] was elected to the family borough of Dunleer and became the member for Louth in 1768 at the age of twenty-one. Considered ‘the best informed man in the house’ he was briefly Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer before his election as Speaker of the Irish Commons. He held office from 1785 until 1800, when Parliament was dissolved for ever under the Act of Union, a measure which Foster had strenuously opposed. As Speaker he pronounced the final words at the closing session, choosing to retain his official mace ‘for future contingencies’. Mr. Speaker Foster was returned to Westminster after the Union and was finally rewarded with a UK peerage in 1821 (his wife had previously been granted two Irish titles) after an illustrious political career that spanned more than sixty years. 

In ‘A Tour of Ireland published in 1780, the agronomist Arthur Young mentions Foster whose improvements on the Collon estate “were of a magnitude that I have never heard of before.” These included Oriel Temple, an elaborate and chastely classical lakeside folly, which was subsequently enlarged to form the principal family seat. Foster’s son Thomas married an heiress, Harriet Skeffington, and the family moved to Antrim Castle when she succeeded as Viscountess Massereene.”

For more about the Foster family see my Cabra Castle entry, www.irishhistorichouses.com/2021/03/28/cabra-castle-kingscourt-county-cavan/ 

The HHI website continues: “Collon House has been altered over the intervening years but the building retains many fine Georgian interiors, now greatly enhanced by sympathetic restoration, fine furniture, glass, porcelain, pictures and objects. Their rich decoration makes a striking contrast with the plain exterior.

The gardens have also been restored with inspired and authentic planting. The entrance overlooks a sunken garden with an intricate box parterre, while the herbaceous border in the ornamental garden leads to a classical summer house in the Grecian style.” [8]

Collon House, County Louth, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage [7]

The National Inventory tells us it is a: “Corner-sited attached five-bay three-storey house, built c. 1770. Rectangular-plan, extended by two-bays into two-storey terrace to east, three-bay two-storey wing to north, extended former mews buildings surrounding courtyard to north, single-storey flat-roofed entrance porch to west elevation…This imposing house, the principal home of the Foster family, at the heart of Collon, has historical associations with John Foster, the last man to speak in the Irish House of Commons. It contains many details of interest, such as stone window dressings. Its prominence at the heart of the village is of intrinsic importance to the architectural heritage of Collon.”

4. Killineer House & Garden, Drogheda, Co. Louth – section 482

Killineer, Drogheda, County Louth, June 2021.

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2021/08/10/killineer-house-county-louth/
contact: Charles & Eithne Carroll
Tel: 086-2323783
www.killineerhouse.ie
Open: Feb 1-20, May 1-15, June 1-10, Aug 10-24, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult/OAP/child/student, house: €4, garden €6

5. Rokeby Hall, Grangebellew, Co. Louth – section 482

Rokeby, County Louth, September 2019.

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/08/17/rokeby-hall-grangebellew-county-louth/
contact: Jean Young
Tel: 086-8644228
www.rokeby.ie
Open: May 1-31, Mon-Sat, Aug 13-21, Sept 1-30, Mon-Sat, 10am-2pm Fee: adult/OAP €7, child/student €5

Places to stay, County Louth:

1. Ballymascanlon House, Louth  – hotel

 https://www.ballymascanlon.com

Ballymascanlon House, County Louth, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [9]

The website tells us: “The Ballymascanlon House is set on 130 acres of beautiful parkland, this impressive Victorian House forms the heart of this Hotel. It is one of the most remarkable historical estates in Ireland dating back to 833 A.D. Steeped in history, Ballymascanlon estate is located in Ireland’s North East on the Cooley Peninsula in close proximity to the Irish Sea and Mourne Mountains. Less than 1 hour from Dublin and Belfast, and 20 minutes from the medieval town of Carlingford. We are delighted to welcome you to our beautiful luxurious venue, ideal for both Business and Leisure.”

Ballymascanlon House is a multiple-bay two-storey over basement with attic Tudor-Revival house, built in 1863 for James Wolfe McNeill, incorporating fabric of earlier building, with gables, mullioned windows, hood-mouldings and a recessed doorway.

2. Collon House, Ardee Street, Collon, Louth – see above

3. Ghan House, Co Louth

 https://www.ghanhouse.com

The National Inventory tells us: “Built in 1727 by William Stannus, this building, with its unadorned façade and finely-balanced elegant classical proportions, is a handsome representative of architectural developments during the Georgian era. It retains a large amount of original and early fabric, including handsome boundary walls, corner tower and carriage arch.”

4.  Hatch’s Castle, Ardee, Co Louth

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/11738928?source_impression_id=p3_1574613728_Shdh4WSLqYmh5i8M

Hatch’s Castle, Ardee, County Louth, March 2022.

The airbnb entry describes the little castle:

Hatch’s Castle has many beautiful features including the Dome Hall,  the original spiral staircase, and a wonderfully restored drawing room on the first floor, where you can sit down and relax. 
We’re situated in the lovely town Ardee, which is surrounded by many historic places such as the Jumping Church and Newgrange. There are few restaurants around Ardee and several shops.
 

Walking inside Hatch’s castle on the Main Street of Ardee is a feeling of space and tranquility. From that moment you know you have entered a castle that is waiting to be explored.  There are four floors, each boasting character and an ambiance of true charm and comfort.  Ground floor entrance hall with dome ceiling is also used as a dining room. The 1st floor has the drawing room with an open fire. Here you can help yourself to a drink, relax, read and unwind. Breakfast can be served here in the large window over looking the Main Street. The 2nd and 3rd floor have a bedroom and private bathroom each.  

It is possible to see Ardee and its surrounding countryside from the roof.  There is a cobble stone yard to sit in and a walled garden to enjoy during the summer months. 

The entire castle is here for you to explore and enjoy. There is a front door entering the castle from the main street.

The Buildings of Ireland: North Leinster (1993) has an entry for Hatch’s Castle:

p. 117. “Rectangular four storey tower house with rounded corners and a façade only one window wide. C15 or C16 and for centuries a property of the Hatch family. Two semicircular turrets project at rear. The castle is sandwiched between ordinary two and three-storey houses on the main street. In 1837 it was described by Lewis as ‘recently fitted up as a dwelling by Wm Hatch,’ which probably accounts for the new battlements, windows and hoodmouldings. Quaint interior, with timber panelling in the barrel-vaulted hall and a carpeted turret stair.” [10]

Whole House Rental, County Louth:

1. Barmeath Castle, Dunleer, Drogheda, Co. Louth – section 482, see above, €€€ for two, € for 6-12

2. Bellingham Castle, co. Louth – for weddings, and open to public for visits 

Castle Bellingham, County Louth, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.[11]

https://www.bellinghamcastle.ie

See above

Meath

1. Balrath, Kells, Co Meath –  accommodation and sometimes open for visits

www.balrathcourtyard.com

The house is open to the public from January 9th – February 3rd and from May 1st – June 9th, daily from 9.00am – 1.00pm.

Fee: Adult €8
OAPs / Students / Children €4

The website tells us:

Balrath House & Courtyard, County Meath is a superb Georgian family home built in c. 1760 – the traditional architecture of which echoes a sense of the past. Yet nothing can prepare you for the beautiful and inviting warmth of the interior design...

The house is set in 1.5 acres of stunning & elegant gardens in a mature setting surrounded by 20.5 acres on the River Nanny which will assure you both privacy and tranquility...

The current owners Ray and Frances O’Brien have renovated the old out houses which were used at one time for milking cows, shoeing horses, housing animals and coaches to cosy, bright self catering cottages...

The cottages are located beside the classical style Georgian house that was built for the Walsh family. The Walsh’s wealth was created from their milling business,  and historical records show that in 1654 there were over 100 corn mills in County Meath. The substantial remains of one such corn mill are situated in the lower garden where it is still possible to see the site of the former mill wheel and mill race.

There is a strong history associated with the house and many of the original features still remain, for example the original Lock and key and the Adam plasterwork.

The estate is an ideal location for walking and offers splendid views of the “forty shades of green” which Ireland is famous for.”

Art Kavanagh tells us about the Aylmer family who lived in Balrath, in his book The Landed Gentry and Aristocracy: Meath, volume 1 (published by Irish Family Names, Dublin 4, 2005). Gerald Aylmer (c. 1485-1560) of Balrath was Chief Justice of Ireland. As a leading figure in the Dublin administration he co-orchestrated the military campaign that defeated Silken Thomas, and he escorted Silken Thomas and his five uncles to London when they were captured.

He assisted Lord Deputy Leonard Grey in his campaign against the O’Neills of Ulster and was rewarded with the manor and lordship of Dollardstown in County Meath. His elder brother Richard Aylmer of Lyons, County Kildare, received the manor house at Donadea. [p. 3, Kavanagh].

The Aylmers of Balrath descended from Nicholas Aylmer (1541- c. 1608). He married Margaret Plunkett, third daughter and co-heir of Christopher Plunkett 7th Lord Killeen and by this marriage, Balrath came into the ownership of the Aylmer family.

Christopher Aylmer (1615-1671) signed a document swearing loyalty to the King, repudiating the power of the Pope over the king, asking, however, for repeal of the laws against Catholics. He was made a Baronet shortly afterwards. His son Gerald, 2nd Baronet, a staunch Catholic, joined the Jacobite forces. He was imprisoned and his brother Matthew, a Protestant, petitioned to be granted his land. Matthew was later created Lord Aylmer, Baron of Balrath.

Gerald had some of his estates returned to him. He was succeeded by his son John, 3rd Baronet, who was succeeded by his brother the 4th Baronet. The 5th Baronet died unmarried and Balrath was divided between his sisters: Mabel, who married James Strong and received Balrath as part of their settlement; Margaret who married twice, to Robert Luttrell a Dublin merchant then to Robert Netterville fo Cruicerath; and Catherine who married John Malpas but had no family. [p. 10, Kavanagh].

2. Beau Parc House, Beau Parc, Navan, Co. Meath – section 482

contact: Emer Mooney
Tel: 041-9824163, 087-2329149
Open: Mar 1-20, May 1-31, Aug 13-21, 10am-2 pm Fee: adult €10, OAP/student/child €8

More soon!

3. Cillghrian Glebe now known as Boyne House Slane, Chapel Street, Slane, Co. Meath – section 482

contact: Alan Haugh
Tel: 041-9884444
www.boynehouseslane.ie
Open: all year, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, 9am-1pm Fee: Free

The website tells us: “Boyne House Slane is a former rectory dating from 1807, magnificently renewed, whilst retaining much of its original features to offer luxury accommodation comprising 10 guest bedrooms offering exceptional levels of comfort and style, the perfect retreat for the visitor after exploring 5,000 years of history and culture in the area.

Discreetly tucked away behind the centrally located Village Garden and recreation area, ‘Boyne House Slane’ is set in its own grounds, comprising a small patch of woodland with well-aged Copperbeech, Poplar and Chestnut trees.

Originally named Cillghrian Glebe, the property was built in 1807 as a rectory or Glebe. The name Cillghrian, sometimes anglicised as Killrian, derives from the words ‘cill’ for church and ‘grian’ which translated as ‘land’ giving the house the simple name ‘church land’. The house retains many of its original features complete with excellent joinery, plasterwork and chimneypieces.”

4. Dardistown Castle, Dardistown, Julianstown, Co. Meath – section 482

Dardistown Castle, County Meath, July 2019.

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2019/07/19/dardistown-castle-county-meath/
contact: Lizanne Allen
Tel: 086 -2774271
www.dardistowncastle.ie
Open: Jan 8-31, July 1-23, closed Sundays, August 8-28, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €6, student/OAP/child €3

5. Dunsany Castle, Dunsany, Co. Meath – section 482

contact: Randall Plunkett
Tel: 046-9025169
www.dunsany.com
Open: June 24-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-22, 10am-2pm
Fee: adult €25, OAP/student/12-18 years €15, child under 12 years free, National Heritage Week €10, under12 years free

Dunsany Castle, County Meath, June 2019.
Dunsany Castle by Alexander Campbell ‘Monkey’ Morgan National Library of Ireland.

6. Gravelmount House, Castletown, Kilpatrick, Navan, Co. Meath – section 482

contact: Brian McKenna
Tel: 087-2520523
Open: Jan 2-15, May 10-30, Aug 13-22, Sept 1-15, 9am-1pm Fee: adult €6, OAP/student/child €3

7. Hamwood House, Dunboyne, Co. Meath – section 482

contact: Charles Hamilton
Tel: 086-3722701
www.hamwood.ie
Open: Apr 1-Sept 25, Fri-Sun, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, 10am-7pm Fee: adult €10, child under 12 free

Hamwood House, County Meath, photograph from Country Life.

The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us:

Hamwood is a smaller Palladian house of the 1770s, near the town of Dunboyne on the borders of Meath and Kildare, with a central block joined to little octagonal ‘pepper-pot’ wings by elegantly curved sweeps. Unusually, the left hand wing contains the main entrance, since it is said that the house was so cold when built that the family decided to move the hall door as far from the main rooms as possible. The resulting effect is interesting, since the principal facade lacks a central feature and looks more like a garden front. Internally this has allowed the creatiion of a double drawing room that runs along the entire length of the facade, an unusual feature in a house of this size.” [12]

The Hamwood website tells us:

Hamwood House sits surrounded by wooded gardens in unspoilt countryside between Dunboyne and Maynooth in Kildare, and is unique in having been occupied by the same family since it was built almost 250 years ago. Hamwood so called due to its creators Charles Hamilton I *[1738-1818] (see below) and his wife Elizabeth Chetwood [from Woodbrook, County Laois] amalgamating their last names, not on account of its wooded surroundings. On arrival at this area at the time one would have been both in awe of the far reaching views towards the Dublin mountains and the ferocious winds which battered this high point in the landscape, being 300 feet above sea level. There was good reason for choosing such a site however, in that the land was amongst the best in Ireland but also it fell naturally from where the house stood allowing good natural drainage. Most importantly too the House was built on rock, the best of foundations. 

While works were progressing on the house the family occupied Courthill -an attractive Georgian  house in Dunboyne . Mr Hamilton became the agent serving the then Duke of Leinster at Carton estate , a role that passed from father to son through all generations up til Charles VI in the 1960’s , although the Estate had already been sold. The relationship between the Hamilton family and the Leinsters was a special one and they took an active interest in the development of Hamwood , donating such features as the pair of granite steps to the front of the house ,  thinnings to form the woodlands and various shrubs and ornamental trees. For such an exposed site it was crucial to protect the house from the strong winds which explains the heavily wooded surroundings. Charles I formed the front door and hallway to where now is the back door. His son added the two Palladian wings and the front entrance placed at the end of the west wing at his wife’s insistence that the draughts were kept well away from the main living areas. 

Many new additions and developments were carried out by different generations including the walled garden and pine walk where visitors can see an abundance of well established shrubs , plants and ornamental trees amongst the relics of former days when there were several men working the gardens.” 

The website has a terrific description of the family who lived in Hamwood and still occupy it today, so I will quote verbatim!

Hugh Hamilton 1572-1655 
The Hamiltons had been established in Scotland for some 300 years before arriving in Ireland. Our Scottish ancestor Sir James Hamilton of Evendale had 4 sons, the youngest of whom Hugh emigrated to Ireland as part of the colonisation known as the Ulster plantation. In 1616 Hugh became ‘denizen’ of Ireland (an Irish citizen). He settled at Lisbane near Bangor in Co.Down. 
He died aged 83 and is buried in the churchyard at Bangor. 

Alexander George Hamilton 1640-1676 
Son of Hugh, settled at Killyleagh, Co Down. Married Jean Hamilton. 
Their daughter Jane married William Sloane brother of Sir Hans Sloane whose Collections formed the British Museum. 

Hugh Hamilton 1664-1728 
Son of Alexander. Married Mary Ross of Rostrevor, an heiress. They lived in Ballybrenagh, Co Down. 
He had 3 daughters and 2 sons, George and Alexander. 

Alexander Hamilton 1690-1768 
Settled at Knock Co Dublin and married Isabella Maxwell of Finnebrogue. Became M.P. for Killyleagh from 1730-1761. Became wealthy owning town lands worth £50,000. 

Of his children his eldest son Hugh became Dean of Armagh then Bishop of Ossory. 
George became M.P. for Belfast 1769-1776, settled at Hampton Hall, Balbriggan, and built the fishing village into a flourishing town with cotton mills, and a trading port which he had built as well as a lighthouse. The firm Smyth and Co traded for 200 years and Queen Victoria was a client. George was made a Baron in the Court of Exchequer Belfast. 
Anne, one of the daughters married Colonel Henry Caldwell, who fought in Canada under General Wolfe and they settled near Quebec. As Wolfe’s ADC he was sent to England to announce news of the victory over the French at Quebec, where Wolfe died in battle. 

Charles Hamilton I   1738-1818 | Builder of Hamwood 

Youngest son of Alexander. Educated at Blackrock College and then at a new school at Carrickmacross in Co Monaghan founded by Lord Bath. 
He married Elizabeth Chetwood and they had 15 children, though some died young. According to her daughter in law, Elizabeth “never consulted a physician except in childbirth and still lived till she was 79.” 
Charles started working life as apprentice to a wine merchant by the name of Mr Crummie of Port Stuart mainly trading in claret. He subsequently started his own store and moved to Mount Venus near Marlay to be nearer Dublin. While here he became a member of the notorious Hellfire Club becoming the toastmaster. The gavel he used is still at Hamwood. While at Mount Venus he met Miss Chetwood who he subsequently married and they called the house they were to build by taking the first and last syllables of their names – Ham wood. Charles’ brother Robert married the other Miss Chetwood [Hester]. 

Charles was left a townland in the North of Ireland which he sold for £7,000 and bought land from a Mr James Hamilton of Ballymacoll where he built Hamwood house. Ballymacoll, between Maynooth and Dunboyne right on the Kildare border with Meath, had a reputation from the 1950’s as one of the best stud farms in the world breeding such majestic horses as Arkle who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup three times in succession 1964-1966, and countless Classic winners including the Derby. 

Before moving in to Hamwood Charles I rented a house in Dunboyne – Courthill – so he could oversee the building works, until the house was completed in 1777. 
When he and his family moved to Hamwood he decided to pursue a different way of life and took on Agencies, firstly for the Archbishop of Dublin and Lord Lansdowne. In 1798 came the Rebellion following the American and French revolutions and it was dangerous times for those who owned landed estates. Charles was taken down to Dunboyne with others including the Agent to the Duke of Leinster to face the rebel firing squad. Happily thanks to the intervention of a respected local man O’Reilly, whose family still practice as blacksmiths in the area, asked that Mr Hamilton be spared as “he was more useful (to them) alive than dead.” It was said that this was probably in recognition of his moral, learned and industrious character. 

The position of agent to the Duke of Leinster now being vacant, Charles asked the then Duke if he might consider him as his Agent and this was granted. The creation and running of Carton, the seat of the Leinster family, thereby began its long history. The position of Agent to the Leinster Estate stayed with the Hamiltons passing from father to son for 150 years right until the last heir died and the Estate was finally acquired by Lord Brocket in the 1950’s. 

Charles II 1772-1857 

Educated at Blackrock College and then at a new school at Carrickmacross in Co Monaghan founded by Lord Bath. He was a classics scholar and completed his education at Trinity College Dublin before being called to the Bar in 1792. He spent some years in London while practicing as a lawyer before returning to Ireland. In 1801 he married Caroline Tighe of Rosanna Co Wicklow, and in 1802 their son Charles William was born. 

Charles 11 and Caroline set about making major improvements to Hamwood, extending the existing house and adding the wings, and also the interior adding ornate furniture wall coverings etc. Much of the furniture was procured for the house, some of it specially designed and fitted. 

He was responsible for laying the foundations of the Gardens. 

Charles William III 1802-1880 
He married Letitia Charlotte Armstrong in 1841. 
He had a keen interest in Agriculture and was deeply involved in the Royal Dublin Society. He was particularly concerned about the state of Agriculture in the country prior to the Famine of 1845 and he urged the Repeal MP William Smith O’Brien to set up agricultural societies and colleges throughout Ireland to instruct farmers in modern methods. He corresponded frequently with Prime Minister William Gladstone about the terrible conditions caused by the potato blight and deplored the lack of assistance given. Although the effects were not nearly so bad in Leinster, soup kitchens were available to those who needed it, one being at Hamwood. 
One of Charles William’s passions was painting and he toured extensively, visiting Scotland and France, where he was arrested by the French whilst painting a warship in Antibes harbour. Presumably he convinced them he was simply an artist and no spy and was released! 
At Hamwood he planted the Pine Walk ca 1860, at a time when trees were becoming available from across the globe particularly from North America and the Himalayas. A Monterey Pine still stands among various Cedars, Sequoia and large Pines lining this Walk. 

Charles Robert IV 1846-1913 
Married Louise Brooke in 1874 who had 10 children, of whom 2 boys died in infancy, one being the first born and heir. The two chestnut trees in the Lawn field were planted in their memory. There were 6 daughters among whom were the exceptional artists Letitia and Eva, and of the boys Gerald Charles the future heir, and Freddie . 
Charles Robert was educated at home by a governess and at the age of 17 he went to Trinity to study law. He was a member of the Kildare Street Club and was passionate about the garden at Hamwood, where he transformed the Walled Garden, and in order to create an impact he employed a head gardener from Kew Gardens in London. He gained a great deal of help from his large family particularly Connie (Constance) who took up landscaping professionally. 
Charles Robert travelled with his wife to the continent frequently and at times further afield to visit relations in Canada near Montreal. 

Gerald Francis Charles V 1877-1961 
Educated at Haileybury and Downton Agricultural College. Became Land Agent to Estates in Gloucestershire , including Dodington Estate (now owned by the inventor James Dyson) before returning to Hamwood upon his father’s death. Became Justice of the Peace (J.P.). Married Violet Travers Hamilton daughter of Robert Craigie Hamilton (of the Hawkesbury Hamiltons) and Charlotte Lewis also from Canada. Both Violet and Francis Charles descended from the same great-great-grandfather so were distant cousins. Violet came to England to visit and ‘do the season’ as it was known. Francis Charles was ‘directed’ by his father to look after his Canadian cousin during the Cheltenham festival which he probably thought was a bit of a chore … until he met her. After that he managed to find plenty of time to accompany her to the various social events of the Summer. Eventually Violet returned to Canada and subsequently travelled to India but after some persistence Francis Charles persuaded her to return to Cheltenham and in 1911 they were married. They had three children, Esme a wonderful writer of children’s books who had the artist Lionel Edwards to illustrate them, and Betty who was an exceptional horsewoman and BHS qualified, and Charles the heir. 
Tragically Violet died prematurely in 1947. A few years later Francis Charles married Rosamund Bauer who built up Hamwood’s dairy herd and helped see the estate through some difficult times during post war depression. Francis Charles took on the Agencies of the Leinster Estate whose seat was Carton located only a few miles away near Maynooth. 
Francis Charles died in 1961 and left the estate to his son Charles. 

Charles Robert Francis VI 1918-2005 
Educated at Twyford prep school and Stowe, subsequently Sandhurst Military Academy. Shortly after, war broke out and he served in the Indian Cavalry primarily with Probyns Horse. For most part he was based near Gilgit in Kashmir keeping control of the tribal factions over an area the size of Wales. He relished the life there where he partook in the local sport, pig-sticking, bear hunting, fishing and game hunting, and particularly polo. He later played at Phoenix Park, Dublin and captained Ireland. 

He remained in India until 1947 and was asked to take on the role of Political Agent to assist in the transition of Partition, but this coincided with news that his mother was dying and he returned to Ireland just in time to be at her side. 

He managed farms and estates in England before returning to Ireland in the mid 50’s when he met Anne Spicer from Carnew, Co. Wicklow but originally from Wiltshire, and they married in 1958. The Major as he was known, carried on the Agency work which included Slane and Clonbrock in Galway, before taking over Hamwood in 1961. They had two children Annabelle and Charles VII both born on the same day but one year apart. 

Many exceptional women have passed through Hamwood’s doors. The following are but a few and some may be omitted through lack of information. 

Caroline Hamilton (1777-1861), née Tighe, married Charles II and was responsible for decorating and furnishing the house in the style of the time. She came from a fine house in Wicklow, called Rossanagh.  Her grandparents were Sir William and Lady Elizabeth Fownes, owners of Woodstock, from where Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler, the Ladies of Llangollen, made their escape to a life together in North Wales, causing a certain amount of uproar at the time. Woodstock was burnt to the ground in July 1922 by the IRA. 

Caroline spent much of her younger years in London and took lessons in art from the notable printmaker and portrait painter John Spilsbury (1737-1812) who had taught at Harrow where her brother was at school, and later Maria Spilsbury  (1776-1820), his daughter. She became a skilled artist, especially in creating pen and ink drawings of Irish society of the day, using a satirist angle on  such subjects as religion, education and the ruling classes.  

After rearing and educating her six children, Caroline dedicated her time to the improvement and development of Hamwood House and its gardens, her art and, in particular, her writing. Her Memoirs are one of the most significant records of Irish life of the time, and in addition, she became heir to the diaries of the Ladies of Llangollen, which are now in the collection of the Hamwood papers held in the National Library, Dublin. Caroline’s cousin, Mary Tighe (1772-1810), was an accomplished poet best known for her poem, Psyche. Her artistic talent and to some extent, that of her husband, Charles III, passed down to her great-grandchildren, Eva and Letitia. 

Eva Henrietta Hamilton (1876-1960) was born and reared at Hamwood, as was her sister, Letitia. One of five sisters and two brothers, only one sister, Lily, got married, with Eva and Letitia becoming established artists. Both fought for recognition in a society where art was considered as a male preserve and women artists were not treated as equals. Eva was an exceptional portrait artist having studied under Sir William Orpen ( 1878-1931) at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art (DMSA) which she entered in 1907 at the age of 31 and later, under Henry Tonks, at the Slade in London. Many of her portraits were commissioned by members of her extended family and their social circle. Normally painted against a simple background, Eva’s skill was in reading the character of her sitters and transferring that on to her canvas. With the coming of independence in Ireland in 1922, the market for these type of portraits was much reduced and Eva switched her attention to landscapes which although not particularly innovative in their production were attractive and well observed.  

Eva was the first of the sisters to exhibit her work, showing a portrait and a figure subject in 1898 at the annual exhibition of the Water Colour Society of Ireland (WCSI). Watercolours were then seen as an acceptable medium for women artists. Her works were shown in London, Paris and Brussels as well as the Irish International Exhibition in Dublin in 1907. She first exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) in Dublin in 1904 where she continued to exhibit until 1945. 

With the death of their mother in 1922, Eva assumed much of the housekeeping role and had less time to devote to her painting. The sisters lived together for most of their lives, in their later years in a series of large rented houses. Among these was Fonthill in Palmerstown, now the offices of the Ballymore construction company. In 1946, they made their final move to Woodville in Lucan, an eighteenth century house designed by the architect, Richard Castle (1690-1751). Fondly known as ‘the Aunts’ nest’ they continued to give memorable parties in their rather eccentric lifestyles. A tree with many sweeping branches stood in the garden from where old umbrellas hung, and in a rather artistic way resembled a tree with huge drooping fruit! 

Eva did produce some stunning works, one of which, The Piper, featuring the village of Dunboyne c. 1911, was chosen by the then Taoiseach, John Bruton, for his Christmas card to send to dignitaries around the world. She would have been delighted! Another of her works, “Ceilidh at Dunboyne’, dating from c. 1910, was included in the  A Time and Place. Two Centuries of Irish Social Life exhibition in the National Gallery of Ireland in 2006. 

Letitia Marion Hamilton (1878-1964) was a talented and prolific landscape artist who, like her sister, studied under Open in the DMSA. Compared to Eva, she remained less influenced by him and more by the works of European artists that she saw during her time abroad.  An inveterate traveller, she made trips to France, Belgium and Holland before the war in Europe curtailed these visits. During WWI she volunteered as a nurse but, in reality, seemed to spend most of the time rolling bandages in the Irish War Hospital Supply Depot which was located in Moore Abbey, Monastervin which had been converted into a recuperation centre for wounded soldiers. The family lived in one of the estate houses in the town where Letitia painted scenes of the town square, nearby Portarlington and the area of bog in between.  

With the cessation of hostilities, Letitia’s travels recommenced with trips abroad, often accompanied by Eva, and during the 1920s, she travelled widely in France, Italy and Yugoslavia. She visited Venice for the first time in the autumn of 1923 and during the 1930s made regular visits to the city and northern Italian lakes. Fascinated by the interplay of light on the buildings and water, this area was to provide the subject matter for numerous paintings. Many of these featured the Venetian canals with their bridges, lined by closely packed buildings. Using a brightly coloured palette to create atmosphere, these were amongst the most original and successful canvases she produced.  

Frustratingly, it is difficult to date her work exactly as she left her pictures undated and returned to the same subject matter on a number of occasions, often using the same title.  Letitia signed her early paintings ‘MH’ (she was known as May by her family), reverting to the more familiar ‘LMH’ from about 1920 onwards.  

With the onset of war again in Europe in 1939, Letitia switched her attention to her home country and produced a large body of work depicting the local landscapes and seascapes. Frequent visits to Roundstone and Glengarriff gave rise to a series of paintings of the area. More muted in tone, these often featured the rugged landscape and big skies of the locality. With an increasing use of impasto (layering of paint on the canvas), colour was applied in a broad sweep using a palette knife.  

With horses central to the Hamilton family way of life, it was inevitable that equestrian scenes would form an important part of Letitia’ work. Scenes of riders and packs of hounds from the local hunts were prominent as were depictions of local fairs and race meetings. It was for one of these that Letitia won the bronze medal in the paintings section in the Sport in Art competition of the XIVth. Olympiad (Olympics) in 1948 in London. It featured an image of the pre-race parade of horses at the Meath point-to-point meeting. In fact, she became the last person to win such an award as Art was subsequently excluded from Olympic ‘sports’. (The current whereabouts of the painting, medal and diploma are unknown). 

Letitia was a serial exhibitor – no sooner was one exhibition completed, then she was out painting for the next one. She was a founding member of the Society of Dublin Painters in 1920, along with Jack Butler Yeats, Paul Henry and Mary Swanzy. This provided a forum for the exhibition of more impressionist and avant-garde works away from the more conservative environment of the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA). She remained a member throughout its existence; Eva became President in 1948. She did also become a member of the RHA, one of its earliest female members, becoming an Associate Member in 1934 and full member in 1944. Only missing two years, 1927 and 1931, Letitia exhibited in the annual exhibition in the RHA every year from 1909 to 1964. Her crowning glory was a series of exhibitions in the Dawson Gallery in Dublin from 1958 to 1963. The last one was held the year before her death – these sell-out shows confirmed her popularity with the buying public. Recently, her painting of A Fair Day, Clifden was included in the ‘Birth of Modernism in Irish Art’ exhibition in Dublin Castle.  

During her final years, Letitia’s sight began to fail and she developed a slight tremor in her hand. Nevertheless, she continued to paint, concentrating on smaller canvases, often studies of beach scenes in Dublin and equestrian scenes of hunting and polo which she finished rapidly but still managed to retain a sense of movement and life. Following a fall in Woodville, she died in the Adelaide Hospital in Dublin on 9 August 1964, aged 86. 

There has been a debate as to which of the sisters was the better artist but their differences in style and technique makes this difficult to assess. Letitia produced a significant body of work with her characteristic layering of paint on the canvas making it readily identifiable. Much of Eva’s early work was portraiture, a genre in which she excelled but this was an arena that Letitia seldom ventured in to. What is certain was they both blazed a trail for women artists in Ireland at a time when it was dominated by their male counterparts such as Sean Keating, Paul Henry and Jack Yeats. Eva and Letitia’s images of pre-war Europe and scenes from Irish towns and villages preserve a way of life that has now vanished for ever.

8. Kilgar Gardens, Kilgar house, Gallow, Kilcock, Co Meath W23E7FK

www.kilgargardens.com

The website tells us: “A stunning series of gardens set over 3 acres just outside Kilcock, Co. Meath. Kilgar Gardens & Tea Rooms is open May to September for visitors and group tours.”

9. Killeen Mill, Clavinstown, Drumree, Co. Meath – section 482

Killeen Mill, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

contact: Dermot Kealy
Tel: 086-2619979
(Tourists Accommodation Facility) Open: April 1- Sept 30

10. Loughcrew House, Loughcrew, Old Castle, Co. Meath – section 482

Ruins of Loughcrew House, 22nd May 2010.

Contact: Emily Naper
Tel: 049-8541356
(Tourist Accommodation FacilityOpen: all year

www.loughcrew.com

Garden: all year, 11am-5pm
Fee: adult €7, OAP €6, student €5, child €3.50, group concessions

The website tells us:

Loughcrew is an estate made up of 200 acres of picturesque rolling parkland complete with a stunning house and gardens. It provides the perfect family friendly day out as there is something to suit all ages and interests.

The House and Gardens within at Loughcrew Estate date back to the 17th century – making it a landscape of historical and religious significance. Here, you’ll find a medieval motte and St. Oliver Plunkett’s family church among other old buildings. You’ll also find lime and yew avenues, extensive lawns and terraces, a water garden and a magnificent herbaceous border.There is a Fairy Trail for children and a coffee shop too!”

11. Moyglare House, Moyglare, Co. Meath – section 482

Moyglare House, County Meath, June 2019.

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2021/02/15/moyglare-house-county-meath/
Postal address Maynooth Co. Kildare
contact: Angela Alexander
Tel: 086-0537291
www.moyglarehouse.ie
Open: Jan 3-7, 10-14, 17-21, 24-28, 31, May 1-21, 23-27, 30-31, June 1-2, Aug 12- 21, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult €7.50, OAP/student/child

12. Oldbridge House, County Meath – Battle of the Boyne Museum – OPW

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

13. Slane Castle, Slane, Co. Meath – section 482

Slane Castle, County Meath, April 2019.

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2019/07/19/slane-castle-county-meath/
contact: Jemma Smith
Tel: 041-9884477
www.slanecastle.ie
Open: Jan 16, 23, 30Feb 6, 13, 20, 27, Mar 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27, April 2-3, 9- 10, 16-18, 23-24, 30, May 1-2, 6-8, 13-15, 20-23, June 3, 6, 10, 17, 24, July 1, 7-8, 14-15, 22, 28, 31, Aug 1, 4-5, 11-21, 25-26, 28, Sept 4,18, 25, Jan- Apr, and June 10am-4pm, May, Fri-Sat, 10am-4pm, Sunday, 12 noon 4pm, July, Thurs-Sat, 10am- 4pm, Sunday, 12 noon-4pm, Aug, Mon-Sat, 10am-4pm, Sunday, 12 noon-4pm, Sept, Sunday, 12 noon-4pm

Fee: adult €14, OAP/student €12.50, child €7.50, concession family ticket (2 adults and 2 children €39, additional adults €1, additional children €6

14. St. Mary’s Abbey, High Street, Trim, Co. Meath – section 482

contact: Peter Higgins
Tel: 087-2057176
Open: Jan 24-28, 31, Feb 1-4, 28, Mar 1-4, 7-11, May 7-22, June 27-30, July 1, 4-8, Aug 13-22, Sept 27-30, 2pm-6pm

Fee: adult €5, OAP/student/child €2

St. Mary’s Abbey, County Meath, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

15. The Former Parochial House, Slane, Co. Meath – section 482

contact: Alan Haugh
Tel: 087-2566998
www.parochialhouseslane.ie
Open: May 1-Sept 30, Mon-Sat, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, 9am-1pm Fee: adult 5, child/OAP/student €3

The website tells us:

‘Parochial House’, The Square, Slane, Co. Meath is one of the 4 landmark buildings within the centre of the historic village of Slane known as the Square although formed in actuality of an Octagon. This central ‘Square’ is formed of four symmetrically placed houses set a 45 degrees to the main crossing.

A dwelling house of three bays and three storeys, it was constructed c. 1768, and was the second of the four houses to be built to form the ‘Square’. In the Buildings of Ireland – North Leinster by Christine Casey and Alistair Rowan it is noted that the plot on the north east corner was granted to one Henry Fischer with the stipulation:

‘House to be built within 5 years, same plan as new inn opposite recently built, also the other houses same plan as laid down for building in the said town of Slane.’

The determination was evident from the beginning that this set-piece of rural town planning would be of the same uniformity and quality as its more urban equivalents. The house essentially retains its original features with excellent joinery, plasterwork, and some original chimneypieces extant.

Parochial House is a three bay three storey over basement stone dwelling with hipped roof and gable chimneystacks. Stonework is coursed and squared limestone rubble with cut limestone dressings to openings. The entrance doorway is variously described as a’block and start’ doorway or more commonly a Gibbsian style doorway after James Gibbs. The door is raised on limestone stones with the exposed portion of the basement acting as a plinth. Remaining facades are rendered.

The proportion of window to wall favours the masonry lending the houses a certain austerity. As a formal composition the grandeur of the Square has rarely been equalled in rural Ireland. Nineteenth-century enclosing walls were added to better define the private and public realms in the Square. The principal entrance door is a nine-panelled door although the present unpainted finish seems too modern.

To the rear, the elevation is rendered in a medium aggregate dash, likely of modern installation. Window dressings are set recessed behind the plain of the render and are tooled and hammered with a simple keystone. Cills are quite slight in proportion in comparison with the cills used on the front elevation. The roof is finished in natural slate and the stacks appear to have been rebuilt from centre upwards in red machine made brick.

16. Swainstown House, Kilmessan, Co. Meath – section 482

Swainstown House, County Meath, August 2019

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/10/10/swainstown-house-kilmessan-county-meath/
contact: Caroline Preston
Tel: 086-2577939
Open: Mar 7-8, 10-11, April 4-5, 7-8, May 2-8, June 6-12, July 4-10, Aug 13-21, Sept 5-16, Oct 3-4, 6-7, Nov 7-8, 10-11, Dec 5-6, 8-9, 11am-3pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €5, child free

17. Tankardstown House, Rathkenny, Slane, Co. Meath – section 482

Tankardstown House, County Meath, August 2019.

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/07/11/tankardstown-estate-demesne-rathkenny-slane-co-meath/
contact: Brian Conroy
Tel: 087-2888925
www.tankardstown.ie
Open: all year including National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, 9am-1pm Fee: Free

18. Trim Castle, County Meath – OPW

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

Places to stay, County Meath:

1. Balrath, Kells, Co Meath –  accommodation  www.balrathcourtyard.com – see above

The website tells us:

You will find an oasis of rural luxury set in the Boyne Valley- the most historically rich area of Ireland’s Ancient East – offering the seclusion of a Georgian courtyard – yet only 20 minutes from Dublin Airport and 10 minutes from Newgrange.

The house is set in 1.5 acres of stunning & elegant gardens in a mature setting surrounded by 20.5 acres on the River Nanny which will assure you both privacy and tranquility.

The self-catering accommodation in the courtyard is of 4 Star Fáilte Ireland approved standard.

The current owners Ray and Frances O’Brien have renovated the old out houses which were used at one time for milking cows, shoeing horses, housing animals and coaches to cosy, bright self catering cottages.

There are eight cottages to choose from each offering something unique, decorated to modern living while still maintaining features of its past.

The cottages are located beside the classical style Georgian house that was built for the Walsh family. The Walsh’s wealth was created from their milling business,  and historical records show that in 1654 there were over 100 corn mills in County Meath. The substantial remains of one such corn mill are situated in the lower garden where it is still possible to see the site of the former mill wheel and mill race.

There is a strong history associated with the house and many of the original features still remain, for example the original Lock and key and the Adam plasterwork.

The house is open to the public from January 9th – February 3rd and from May 1st – June 9th, daily from 9.00am – 1.00pm.

Fee: Adult €8
OAPs / Students / Children €4

The estate is an ideal location for walking and offers splendid views of the “forty shades of green” which Ireland is famous for.”

2. Bellinter House near Bective, County Meath – hotel and restaurant www.bellinterhouse.com

Bellinter House, photograph for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [15]

The website tells us:

A magnificent 18th century Georgian house, located in the heart of the Boyne Valley, less than 5 minutes of the M3 and under 30 minutes from Dublin City centre and Dublin airport.

A property designed originally by Richard Castles for John Preston [1700-1755], this house was once used as a country retreat for the Preston Family, to abscond from the city for the summer months.

Following over 270 years of beautiful history the purpose of Bellinter House remains the same, a retreat from ones daily life.

On arriving, you will find yourself succumb to the peacefulness and serenity that is Bellinter House.

The National Inventory tells us about Bellinter House:

Designed by the renowned architect Richard Castle in 1751. Bellinter is a classic mid eighteenth-century Palladian house with its two-storey central block, linked to two-storey wings by single-storey arcades, creating a forecourt in front of the house. This creates a building of pleasant symmetry and scale which is of immediate architectural importance. The building is graded in scale from ground to roofline. It gets progressively lighter from semi-basement utilising block and start windows on ground floor to lighter architraves on first floor to cornice. The house forms an interesting group with the surviving related outbuildings and entrance gates.” [13]

Art Kavanagh tells us in his The Landed Gentry and Aristocracy: Meath, Volume 1 (published by Irish Family Names, Dublin 4, 2005) that John Joseph Preston (1815-1892) had only a daughter, and he leased Bellinter House to his friend Gustavus Villiers Briscoe. When John Joseph Preston died he willed his estate to Gustavus.

Much of the land was dispersed with the Land Acts, but Bellinter passed to Gustavus’s son Cecil Henry Briscoe. His son George sold house and lands to the Holdsworth family, who later sold the land to the Land Commission. The house was acquired by the Sisters of Sion in 1966, who sold it in 2003.

[See Robert O’Byrne’s recent post, https://theirishaesthete.com/2022/05/21/crazy-wonderful/ for more pictures of Bellinter.]

3. Cillghrian Glebe now known as Boyne House Slane, Chapel Street, Slane, Co. Meath – see above

contact: Alan Haugh
Tel: 041-9884444
www.boynehouseslane.ie

4. Clonleason Gate Lodge, Fordstown, County Meath: Hidden Ireland www.clonleason.com

Our 18th century riverside cottage has been converted into an elegant one bedroom hideaway for a couple. Set in blissful surroundings of gardens and fields at the entrance to a small Georgian house, the cottage is surrounded by ancient oak trees, beech and roses. It offers peace and tranquillity just one hour from Dublin.

A feature of the cottage is the comfy light filled sitting room with high ceiling, windows on three sides, an open fire, bundles of books and original art. The Trimblestown river, once famous for its excellent trout, runs along the bottom of its secret rose garden. Garden and nature lovers might enjoy wandering through our extensive and richly planted gardens where many unusual shrubs and trees are thriving and where cyclamen and snowdrops are massed under trees. The Girley Loop Bog walk is just a mile down the road.

The bedroom is luxurious and the kitchen and bathroom are well appointed. There is excellent electric heating throughout.

5. Crow’s Hermitage, Ardcath, County Meath

https://www.crowshermitage.com/

The website tells us: “A place to wind down and relax or a base to explore all that Ireland has to offer. Make yourself at home in our secluded, romantic cottage, nestled in the beautiful countryside of the Royal County. 

We offer luxury self-catering accomodation in an idyllic setting. Our self-sufficient cottage, furnished and fitted to a high standard, sleeps 2 and boasts a kitchen, a wetroom w/c with a power shower plus ample relaxation space, all kept warm and cosy by a woodburning stove.

Ideally suited to couples who are looking for a luxurious, romantic break in the peaceful and beautiful countryside of Ireland.

6. Dardistown Castle, Dardistown, Julianstown, Co. Meath – section 482, see above

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2019/07/19/dardistown-castle-county-meath/
contact: Lizanne Allen
Tel: 086 -2774271
www.dardistowncastle.ie
Open: Jan 8-31, July 1-23, closed Sundays, August 8-28, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €6, student/OAP/child €3

7. Highfield House, Trim, County Meath

https://highfieldguesthouse.com

The website tells us:

Highfield House is an elegant, 18th century residence run by Edward and Geraldine Duignan and situated in the beautiful heritage town of Trim. Known as the birthplace of Ireland’s Ancient East, Trim is renowned as one of Ireland’s most beautiful towns. The award winning accommodation boasts magnificent views of Trim Castle, The Yellow Steeple, and the River Boyne. 

Guests can book Highfield House for their overnight stay while visiting the area, or book the entire property as a self catering option in Meath.

The house was built in the early 1800’s and was opened as a stately maternity hospital in 1834 and remained so up to the year 1983, making it 175 years old. A host of original, antique interior features still remain. Spend the morning sipping coffee on our patio, relax with a book in our drawing room or wile away the afternoon people watching from our garden across the river.”

8. Johnstown Estate, Enfield, Co Meath – hotel

 https://thejohnstownestate.com

The website tells us:

The original manor – or The Johnstown House as it was known – is as storied as many other large country house in Ireland.  Luckily, the house itself has stood the test of time and is the beating heart of the hotel and all its facilities which together form The Johnstown Estate. 

Built in 1761, The Johnstown House (as it was then known) was the country residence of Colonel Francis Forde [1717-1769], his wife Margaret [Bowerbank] and their five daughters. Colonel Forde was the 7th son of Matthew Forde, MP, of Coolgraney, Seaforde County Down, and the family seat is still in existence in the pretty village of Seaforde, hosting Seaforde Gardens.

The Colonel had recently returned from a very successful military career in India and was retiring to become a country gentleman.  Enfield – or Innfield as it was then known –  satisfied his desire to return to County Meath where his Norman-Irish ascendants (the de la Forde family) had settled in Fordestown (now Fordstown), Meath, in the 13th century. Enfield was also close to Carton House in Maynooth, the home of the Duke of Leinster – at the time the most powerful landowner in Ireland.

After 8 years completing the house and demesne and establishing income from his estates, Colonel Forde left for a further military appointment in India. His boat, The Aurora, touched the Cape of Good Hope off Southern Africa on December 27th, 1769 and neither he, nor the boat, were heard from again.

Thereafter the house was owned by a variety of people including a Dublin merchant, several gentlemen farmers, a Knight, another military man, an MP and a Governor of the Bank of Ireland.  In 1927 the Prendergast family bought the house and Rose Prendergast, after whom ‘The Rose’ private dining room is named, became mistress of Johnstown House for over fifty years.

The house was restored to its previous glory in the early years of the new millennium and a new resort hotel developed around it to become The Johnstown House Hotel.  In 2015, under new ownership, the hotel was extensively refurbished, expanded and rebranded to become The Johnstown Estate.

9. Killyon Manor, County Meath, holiday cottages and weddings

https://www.killyonmanor.com/

The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us:

The Loftus family were resident on the Killyon Manor estate at the far western edge of County Meath from the 16th century, possibly in a tower house within the house that ‘Loftus the Magnificent’ built in the mid-18th century. Rather unusually the house remains one room deep, although a ballroom was added at the rear sometime in the late 18th or early 19th century; there is also a perpendicular wing – the oldest part of the Georgian building. The façade was redone c. 1800 and a small Ionic portico added as well as long flanking screen walls with blind arches. It passed to the Magan family in the 1850s when William Henry Magan of Clonearl in County Offaly married the heiress Elizabeth Georgina Loftus. Their combined fortunes included 20,000 acres in Westmeath, Offaly and Shankill, Co. Dublin in addition to a house on St Stephen’s Green, where their daughter Augusta, jilted as an unsuitable match, is said to have left her wedding breakfast uncleared for 30 years (and as such was possibly the inspiration for Miss Haversham in Great Expectations). Over her lifetime, she became a hoarder and by the time of her death had filled the ballroom to waist-height with her impulsive, largely unopened purchases. A protracted decade-long legal battle over Augusta’s bizarre will ultimately led to the loss of much of the fortune. It was sold out of the family in the 1960s by Brigadier Bill Magan, who in retirement published a well-regarded memoir called ‘Umma-More’, which tells the story of the various houses owned by the family. Currently owned by the Purcell family, the estate, on a tributary of the River Boyne, is being rewilded and has become an important biodiversity zone.” [14]

10. Killeen Mill, Clavinstown, Drumree, Co. Meath – section 482, see above

contact: Dermot Kealy
Tel: 086-2619979
(Tourists Accommodation Facility) Open: April 1- Sept 30

11. Moyglare House, Moyglare, Co. Meath – section 482, see above

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2021/02/15/moyglare-house-county-meath/
Postal address Maynooth Co. Kildare
contact: Angela Alexander
Tel: 086-0537291
www.moyglarehouse.ie
Open: Jan 3-7, 10-14, 17-21, 24-28, 31, May 1-21, 23-27, 30-31, June 1-2, Aug 12- 21, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult €7.50, OAP/student/child

12. Rosnaree, Slane, Co Meath – accommodation

https://www.facebook.com/theRossnaree/ 

The website tells us: “This stylish historic country house in Slane, County Meath, offers boutique bed and breakfast with magnificent views across the Boyne Valley and the megalithic passage tomb of Newgrange.

Rossnaree (or “headland of the Kings”) is a privately owned historic country estate in Slane, County Meath, located only 40 minutes from Dublin and less than an hour from Belfast.

An impressive driveway sweeps to the front of Rossnaree house, standing on top of a hill with unrivalled views across the River Boyne to Ireland’s famous prehistoric monuments, Knowth, Dowth and Newgrange.

Rossnaree has been transformed into a boutique bed and breakfast, offering four luxury rooms for guests and also an original venue for special events and artistic workshops.

13. Ross Castle, Mountnugent, County Meath whole castle €€€ for 2, € for 10 or self-catering accommodation €

https://www.ross-castle.com

See my County Cavan entry, https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/07/03/county-cavan-historic-houses-to-see-and-stay/

14. Tankardstown House, Rathkenny, Slane, Co. Meath – section 482

Tankardstown, County Meath, August 2019.

www.tankardstown.ie
See my entry above.

Whole house booking/wedding venues, County Meath

1. Boyne Hill estate, Navan, County Meath – whole house rental

https://www.boynehillhouse.ie

Set in 38 acres of pretty gardens and parklands and just 35 minutes from Dublin, this stunning country house estate becomes your very own private residence for your special day.

2. Durhamstown Castle, Bohermeen, County Meath – whole house rental https://durhamstowncastle.com

Durhamstown Castle is 600 years old inhabited continuously since 1420. Its surrounded by meadows, dotted with mature trees. We take enormous pleasure in offering you our home and hospitality.

The website tells us that in 1590:

The Bishop of Meath, Thomas Jones [1550-1619], who resided in next door Ardbraccan, at this time, owned Durhamstown Castle & we know from the records, that he left it to his son, Lord Ranelagh, Sir Roger Jones; who was Lord President of Connaught. Thomas Jones was witness & reporter to the Crown on negotiations between the Crown Forces & the O’Neills. He was known to be close to Robert Devereux, The Earl of Essex – Queen Elizabeth’s lover. (Later, executed for mounting a rebellion against Her.) Letters are written – copies of which are in the National Library – from Devereux to the Queen both from Ardbraccan & Durhamstown (“the Castle nearby”).

Roger Jones, 1st Viscount Ranelagh (before 1589 – 1643) was a member of the Peerage of Ireland and lord president of Connaught. He was Chief Leader of the Army and Forces of Connaught during the early years of the Irish Confederate Wars. In addition to Viscount Ranelagh, he held the title Baron Jones of Navan.

Jones was the only son of Archbishop of Dublin and Lord Chancellor of Ireland, Thomas Jones, and his wife Margaret Purdon. He was knighted at Drogheda on 24 March 1607. In 1609, he married Frances Moore, the daughter of Sir Garret Moore, eventual 1st Viscount Moore of Drogheda. Jones was a member of the Parliament of Ireland for Trim, County Meath from 1613 to 1615. In 1620, he was named to the privy council of Ireland. He was the Chief Leader of the Army and Forces of Connaught and was Vice President of Connaught from 1626.

In 1608 his father became involved in a bitter feud with Lord Howth, in which Roger also became embroiled. His reference to Howth as a brave man among cowards was enough to provoke his opponent, a notoriously quarrelsome man to violence. In the spring of 1609, Jones, Howth and their followers engaged in a violent fracas at a tennis court in Thomas Street, Dublin, and a Mr. Barnewall was killed. The Lord Deputy of Ireland, Sir Arthur Chichester, an enemy of Howth, had him arrested immediately, though he was never brought to trial.

On 25 August 1628, Jones was created Baron Jones of Navan and 1st Viscount Ranelagh by King Charles I. He was made Lord President of Connaught on 11 September 1630 to serve alongside Charles Wilmot, 1st Viscount Wilmot.

Jones was killed in battle against Confederate forces under the leadership of Owen Roe O’Neill in 1643.

An Uncle, Colonel Michael Jones, was the military Governor of Dublin at the time and supported Cromwell’s landing at Ringsend, after the Battle of Rathmines. Troops assembled at Durhamstown to fight on Cromwell’s side. When they marched on Drogheda they laid the place waste & murdered all before them. They brought the severed heads of the Royalist Commanders to Dublin. The Jones’ generally seem to have been a bloodthirsty lot; & were known to be unrelenting in their enforcement of the new Credo. Michael Jones even had his own nephew executed. Roger Jones’ son, Arthur was also embroiled in huge controversy when, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, he was supposed to have diverted all the taxes to pay for the King’s Mistresses!

[From 1750] From this time onwards we think the Thompsons lived here. One of the Thompsons was said to have died from septicaemia as a result of an apoplectic rage caused by his Irish labourers refusing to knock down the Church of Durhamstown. He is alleged to have grabbed the shovel & attempted the work himself ; only for the shovel to bounce back & bury itself in his leg, or in some recordings it hacked off his leg; which subsequently became septic & “he died miserably from his wounds” But the stones & spire were taken to build Ardbraccan Church.

In 1840 “One of the Thompsons married a Roberts from Oatlands just at the back of Durhamstown, & they lived here up until 1910. A couple of years ago Janice Roberts, from America, called to the House but we were out!! Luckily Ella, a neighbour realised the importance of it & arranged for her & her husband to call back. We had a fascinating afternoon going through old photographs & records & tramping quietly round the nearby graveyards with them, filling in the blanks. She promised us a photograph of an oil painting of the Castle intact. Her grandfather lived in Durhamstown & later he sold it, taking some of the furniture & artefacts to his house in Dalkey, called Hendre.

In 1996 Sue (Sweetman) & Dave Prickett buy Durhamstown Castle. “And we have been working on it ever since! We have re-roofed the entire Castle & the majority of the Buildings in the Yard. It was in a ruinous state when we bought it.

3. Loughcrew House, Loughcrew, Old Castle, Co. Meath – section 482

Contact: Emily Naper
Tel: 049-8541356
(Tourist Accommodation FacilityOpen: all year

www.loughcrew.com

4. Mill House, Slane:

https://www.themillhouse.ie

The Mill House, Slane, March 2022.

The website tells us:

Built in 1766, The Millhouse and The Old Mill Slane, the weir and the millrace were once considered the largest and finest complex of its kind in Ireland. Originally a corn mill powered by two large water wheels, the harvest was hoisted into the upper floor granaries before being dried, sifted and ground.

Over time, the Old Mill became a specialised manufacturer of textiles turning raw cotton into luxury bed linen. Times have changed but this past remains part of our history, acknowledged and conserved.

​In 2006, The Millhouse was creatively rejuvenated, transformed into a hotel and wedding venue of unique character – a nod to the early 1900’s when it briefly served as a hotel-stop for passengers on pleasure steamer boats.”

5. Ross Castle, Mountnugent, County Meath whole castle €€€ for 2, € for 10 or self-catering accommodation €

https://www.ross-castle.com

See my County Cavan entry, https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/07/03/county-cavan-historic-houses-to-see-and-stay/

[1] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/13402608/castlecor-house-castlecore-longford

[2] p. 66. Bence-Jones, Mark. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.

[3] www.irishhistorichouses.com/2020/12/10/kilshannig-house-rathcormac-county-cork/

[4] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/13401508/moorhill-house-castlenugent-longford

[5] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/13402709/newcastle-house-newcastle-newcastle-demesne-longford

[6] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/13007038/viewmount-house-knockahaw-longford

[7] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/13828001/collon-house-drogheda-street-ardee-street-collon-collon-louth

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

[9] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/13900756/ballymascanlon-house-ballymascanlan-ballymascanlon-louth

[10] p. 117, Casey, Christine and Alistair Rowan. The Buildings of Ireland: North Leinster. Penguin Books, London, 1993.

[11] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/13826003/bellingham-castle-castlebellingham-castlebellingham-castlebellingham-louth

[12] https://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Hamwood

[13] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/14403107/bellinter-house-ballinter-meath

[14] https://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Killyon%20Manor%20

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