Open dates in 2022: June 1-Aug 31, Mon-Sat, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €7, concession joint with castle
We timed our visit to County Cork to be able to have a tour of the impressive Scottish Baronial Blarney House, replete with turrets, finials, stepped gables and dormer windows.
It was designed by John Lanyon of the Belfast architectural firm Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon. It was built in 1874 for Sir George Conway Colthurst (abt. 1824-1878), 5th Baronet and his wife, Louisa, whose family owned Blarney Castle, so that his family could live on their Blarney estate, but away from the castle, which was a tourist destination, much as it is today. He married Louisa Jane Jefferyes in 1846. The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us that Sir George Colthurst was a neighbour, from Ardrum near Inniscarra in County Cork. He was also her second cousin.
The Jeffereyes (or Jefferyes) family previously occupied a house which was attached to Blarney Castle. In 1820, the same year in which Louisa was born, this house was destroyed by fire (see my entry about Blarney Castle). Instead of rebuilding, George Jeffereyes and his family moved to Inishera House in West Cork. 
George Colthurst was a man of considerable property with another large estate at Ballyvourney near the border with County Kerry, along with Lucan House in County Dublin (now the home of the Italian ambassador to Ireland). He inherited Blarney on his father-in-law’s death in 1862.  He and Louisa lived in Ardrum House, which has since been demolished, before moving to the new house in Blarney, nearly thirty years after they married.  Randall MacDonnell tells us in his The Lost Houses of Ireland: A chronicle of great houses and the families who lived in them that the mirrors and fireplaces, as well as the neoclassical porch, came from Ardrum House. 
The family motto Justem ac Tenacem (Just and Persevering) and the quartered Colthurst and Jefferyes Arms are set in the entrance façade of the house.
The limestone walls are “snecked” which means that it has a mixture of roughly squared stones of different sizes (and lumpishness) and some of the walls have carved sandstone stringcourses. The windows are also surrounded by carved sandstone.
The Archiseek website quotes The Architect, August 21, 1875:
“This new mansion has just been completed for Sir George C. J. Colthurst, Bart., it is built of the light blue hammer-dressed limestone of the demesne, with Glasgow stone dressings to doors, and window opes, gables, &c.; the slates are green Cumberland (a combination that produces a very pleasing effect). The new building is situated within about three hundred yards of the historical old “Blarney Castle,” and from the oriel window in our illustration the celebrated ” Kissing Stone ” can be seen. The principal entrance is as shown on the north-east, and leads, by a wide flight of Portland stone steps, through the vestibule to the staircase hall (which is central and lit from the top); off this hall are grouped dining-room, drawing-room, morning-room, library, billiard-room, own room, etc. The next floor contains the principal bed-rooms and dressing-rooms, boudoirs, etc., which are entered off a handsome arcaded gallery, with timber roof supported on walnut pilasters; on the top floor are bedrooms for the family, female servants, etc. The kitchen and household offices and men-servants’ bed-rooms are on the basement floor, which is all above ground. The Castle is in the Scottish Baronial style, and designed with a view to defense if necessary.
The works have been carried out by the Messrs. Dixon, of Belfast, builders, under the superintendence of, and from the designs by, Mr. John Lanyon, F.R.I.B.A., Dublin and Belfast.” 
I wonder why George and Jane decided to hire John Lanyon to design their new house, since the company in which he worked, Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon, was based in Belfast, and most of the houses the company designed are in the north of Ireland, including Castle Leslie in County Monaghan (another section 482 property which we visited, see my entry)? John joined his father Charles Lanyon (1813-1889) and William Henry Lynn (1829-1915) in the architectural firm. Blarney House looks very similar in style to Belfast Castle, also designed by Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon.
The Lanyons were Freemasons, so perhaps the Colthurst family were also part of that Society. Another possibility is that George Colthurst met John Lanyon due to a common interest in railways. After his father retired, John Lanyon, who also worked as an engineer, worked on railways in the north.  The railway was important for bringing tourists to Blarney, as we can see from the old tourism posters on display in the cafe in the stable courtyard, advertising the London Midland and Scottish Railway, British Railways and Great Southern Rhys railway. George Colthurst probably made sure that the railway travelled to Blarney so that it could bring tourists to the destination his wife’s family had created. The Dublin to Cork Great Southern and Western Railway reached Cork in 1856, and Blarney was a stop along the way. The Muskerry railway line, built in 1880, which he financially supported, ran through the George Colthurst’s Ardrum estate and travelled to Blarney.  John Lanyon was not involved in the southern railways, but perhaps Colthurst met with him when he was interested in the railways.
[note: Another house built in the south by the company of Lynn, Lanyon and Lynn was Killarney House in County Kerry, in 1872 designed by W.H. Lynn]
Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures inside Blarney House. We paused in the front hall, with its timbered ceiling of polished pine beams, on a flight of stone steps, next to a Colthurst and Jefferyes family tree, to learn more about the family and the house. A chair in the hall also features a white colt, the symbol of the Colthurst family, and was made for the wedding of George Colthurst and Jane Jefferyes.
George and Jane had a son, and they gave him the second name of St. John, following the tradition of the Jefferyes family. George St. John Colthurst the 6th Baronet married Edith Jane Thomasine Morris from Dunkathel house, County Cork. He was in the military and served as Aide-de-Camp to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. His son George Oliver the 7th Baronet succeeded to the estates. He fought in the First World War and was awarded the Croix de Guerre. He died at the age of 68, unmarried. His brother then inherited the estate and title. Richard St. John Jefferyes Colthurst (1887-1955), 8th Bt, also fought in the First World War. He married twice and his heir was son of his second wife.
The house and castle still belong to the Colthurst family. It was empty for some years until Richard Colthurst 9th Baronet and his wife, Janet Georgina Wilson-Wright from Coolcarrigan, County Kildare (also a section 482 property, see my entry) moved in, replumbed, rewired and redecorated it, and in the process, saved the building. Their son the 10th Baronet now lives in the house with his family. We did not meet the Colthursts unfortunately, and a guide led the tour.
The chandelier in the front hall is of Waterford crystal and it was made for the house, as were the carpets, which mirror the keyhole motif in the doors. In the staircase hall, with its Jacobean style oak staircase, our guide pointed to a console table at the foot of the stairs, which has a mirror underneath for ladies to be able to check their hems before entering the reception rooms, to make sure their ankles weren’t accidentally revealed!
The stairs lead up through two storeys to a barrel-vaulted coffered ceiling, framing a large skylight. The heavy wooden staircase was made in Scotland, and features the baronetcy symbol of a hand, and also the Colthurst symbol of a horse and a crest.
A silk embroidery of the castle with its attached Gothic mansion which burnt down was stitched by the Jeffereyes women.
The library to the left of the stair hall was originally the dining room, as we can see by the Carrera marble fireplace which features Ceres, Goddess of Agriculture and grain. One side of the room has a servants’ entrance and the other end has a dumb waiter, a mini elevator to bring dishes up from the kitchen. The guide pointed out a rent table, a round table with drawers into which tenants could put their rent, and the table could be rotated on its base. I learned that a safe was built in underneath the table top! The land agent would have collected rent twice a year. The Gothic bookcases came from the house in Ardrum. A library chair opens up into steps for climbing the shelves!
The double doors to the drawing room are fireproof and soundproof. The drawing room is painted Regency style duckegg blue. The mirror in the room is from Ardrum. A writing bureau from 1710 is the oldest piece in the house. There are many portraits of members of the family including miniatures, which would have been a gift before a wedding to a future spouse, to show all the members of the new family being acquired! These miniatures feature the La Touche family.
The father of George Colthurst the 5th Baronet of Ardrum, Nicholas, was just seven years old when his father, also named Nicholas, died in 1795. Nicholas the 3rd Baronet Colthurst married Emily La Touche, daughter of David La Touche and Elizabeth Marlay. As I mentioned in my entry about Blarney Castle, Louisa Jeffereyes was also a descendant of a daughter of David La Touche and Elizabeth Marlay, Anne La Touche, who married Louisa’s grandfather, George Charles Jeffereyes (1761-1841).
Nicholas Conway Colthurst (1789-1829) the 4th Baronet married Elizabeth Vesey, daughter of Colonel George Vesey of Lucan House in County Dublin, which is how Lucan House came into the ownership of the Colthurst family. The portrait of Nicholas the 4th Baronet would have come from Ardrum House.
What is now the dining room was the billiard room. It has a plain wooden floor and a slimmer door which was designed, our guide told us, to keep women, with their large crinoline skirts, out! The fireplace, like the one in the entrance hall, is of Portland stone, not marble, indicating that it was originally a less formal room than the drawing room or original dining room. Suitable to a male environment, it has nautical imagery in the fireplace, and acorns, which are a military symbol also, indicating the oak from which ships were made. A portrait of William of Orange shows that the Colthursts took William’s side in the war between the future King William and James II.
Upstairs the upper landings open on three sides through rounded arcades with Corinthian pilasters, and the bedrooms are off the arcaded gallery.  The Adam Revival friezes and late eighteenth century Neoclassical chimneypieces reputedly came from Ardrum.  We did not get to see the back of the house from the outside as the gardens behind are private, but there is a lake behind the house.
I was disappointed also to discover that the walled garden is private, after a television show was made called “Blarney: a year on the estate.” I felt sure that the gardens featured in the television show would be open to the public!
 see the timeline in James Lyttelton’s Blarney Castle, An Irish Towerhouse.
 Bence-Jones, Mark. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.
 p. 269, Keohane, Frank. The Buildings of Ireland: Cork City and County. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2020.
12. Mount Trenchard House and Garden, Foynes, Co. Limerick– section 482
13. The Turret, Ryanes, Ballyingarry, Co. Limerick– section 482
14. The Old Rectory, Rathkeale, Co. Limerick– section 482
Places to stay, County Limerick:
1. Adare Manor, Limerick– hotel €€€
2. Ash Hill Towers, Kilmallock, Co Limerick – section 482, Hidden Ireland accommodation €
3. Ballyteigue House, County Limerickself-catering whole house accommodation, rental per week. €€ for two, € for 4-10
4. Deebert House, Kilmallock, County Limerick– B&B and self-catering
5. The Dunraven, Adare, Co Limerick €
6. Flemingstown House, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, Ireland – whole house accommodation, up to 11 guests. €€€ for two for a week, € for 4-11
7. Longcourt House Hotel, Newcastle West, Co Limerick €
8. Woodlands House and Spa, Adare, Co Limerick €€
Whole house rental County Limerick
1. Ballyteigue House, Bruree, County Limerick– self-catering whole house accommodation, rental per week. €€ for two, € for 4-10
2. Fanningstown Castle, Adare, County Limerick – sleeps 10
3. Flemingstown House, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, Ireland whole house accommodation, up to 11 guests. €€€ for two for a week, € for 4-11
4. Glin Castle, whole house rental.
5. Springfield Castle, Drumcollogher, Co. Limerick, Ireland €€€ for 2, € for 5-25.
1. Ash Hill, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick– section 482 €
contact: Simon and Nicole Johnson Tel: 063-98035 www.ashhill.com (Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: Apr 1-Sept 30, 9.30am-4.30pm Fee: adult €5, child/OAP/student €3
The website tells us: “Ash Hill is a large, comfortable Georgian estate, boasting many fine stucco ceilings and cornices throughout the house. For guests wishing to stay at Ash Hill, we have three beautifully appointed en-suite bedrooms, all of which can accommodate one or more cots…Open to the public from January 15th through December 15th. Historical tours with afternoon tea are easily arranged and make for an enjoyable afternoon. We also host small workshops of all kinds, upon request…For discerning guests, Ash Hill can be rented, fully staffed, in its entirety [comfortably sleeps 10 people]. Minimum rental 7 days.”
We treated ourselves to a stay during Heritage Week 2022 – write-up coming soon!
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
“(Evans/Carbery/ Johnson/ Harrington) A C18 pedimented house [the National Inventory tells us it was built in 1781], the back of which was rebuilt in Gothic 1833, probably to the design of James and George Richard Pain [the National Inventory corrects this – it was designs by Charles Frederick Anderson], with two slender round battlemented and machiolated towers. Rectangular windows with wooden tracery. Good plasterwork in upstairs drawing room in the manner of Wyatt and by the same hand as the hall at Glin Castle; saloon with domed ceiling. The towers have, in recent years, been removed. Originally a seat of the Evans family; passed in the later C19 to John Henry Weldon. Now the home of Major Stephen Johnson.” 
The website also tells us about its history:
“The oldest evidence of habitation at Ash Hill is what is believed to be a long barrow grave dating somewhere between 4000 and 2000 B.C. This was described in letters written by Eileen Foster, an American visiting her ancestral home, Ash Hill, in 1908. Miss Foster wrote “close to the avenue, as they call it, although there are trees on only one side of the road, is a large green mound which is supposed to mark the burial place of one of the Irish chieftains and a number of his followers. It was the custom in those days to bury a dozen or so of his slaves with every chieftain. Father says he would like to explore the spot, but not a man could be found who would put a spade into the sacred earth”.
Also on the estate, beside the site of an old lake, there are the remains of a crannog (an Irish house built on a small island) usually dating prior to 1000 A.D. The lake was drained in the 1915 and during this process, the remains of numerous Irish Elk (deer from the interglacial period) were discovered.
Close to the lake, overlooking the town, is the site of Castle Coote, birthplace of Lieutenant General Sir Eyre Coote, conqueror of India. This castle was demolished in the later half of the eighteenth century.
The courtyard to the main house was built sometime between 1720 and 1740 and it was sympathetically restored in the 1950’s by the late Mrs. Denny Johnson. The present house, which overlooks this courtyard, was built by Chidley Coote [1735-1799] in 1781.
This part of the house has numerous ceilings of historical and architectural importance displaying dancers from Herculaneum which are similar to the stucco medallions found in the saloon at Castletown, County Kildare. Numerous windows, looking out onto the courtyard, date from this period and have the original glass.
In the 1830’s, Eyre Evans [1773-1856] employed Charles Anderson, an architect, to build the front of the house in a Gothic style with two large towers on it. There are various Gothic features in this part of the house. Unfortunately, due to excessive rates (a valuation based property tax), some parts of the house, including the towers, were removed in the early 1960’s.
During the “troubled times”, the house was occupied by three sets of troops who looted and vandalized the property, using ancient family portraits for target practice. As these “troubled times” were ending, Michael Collins, the Irish leader at the time, visited the house on his way south to what would be his violent and untimely demise at the hands of his enemies. There is a considerable amount of graffiti left on the walls of the top floor rooms which were occupied by both troops and prisoners.
The first recorded ownership of Ash Hill was in 1667 when Chidley Coote [d. 1702, grandson of Charles Coote, 1st Baronet Coote, of Castle Cuffe, Queen’s Co., or perhaps his father Chidley Coote (d. 1668)] acquired the property from Catherine Bligh. It is probable that he had a son who was also Chidley Coote [(1678-1730). He married Jane Evans of Bulgaden Hall, Limerick.]. In 1726, Lieutenant General Eyre Coote [1726-1783] (son of Chidley Coote–a clergyman and owner of Castle Coote) was born at Ash Hill which was known as Castle Coote at that time [There were three other brothers: Robert Coote who married Anne Purdon of Ballyclough, County Cork (now partly demolished); Reverend Charles Coote who married Grace Tilson; Thomas Coote who married Eleanor White of Charleville, County Cork]. General Coote went on to become one of the greatest military tacticians of the eighteenth century with numerous victories to his credit, including winning India from the French in the Seven Years’ War and defeating Hyder Ali despite being outnumbered by almost twenty to one. This same victorious pattern was to be repeated in battles throughout the war.
Coote’s nephew, Sir Eyre Coote [(1762-1823), son of Eyre Coote’s brother Reverend Charles Evans Coote (1713-1796)], who was born at Ash Hill in the late eighteenth century, became the Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica between 1806 and 1808. It has been said that Coote, while living in Jamaica, had a relationship with a slave girl. Although unconfirmed, it is thought that Colin Powell, hero of the Gulf War, may be a descendent of this relationship.
Major-General Sir Eyre Coote, (1762-?1824), Governor of Jamaica Date 1805 Engraver Antoine Cardon, Flemish, 1772-1813 After W. P. J. Lodder, British, fl.1783-1804 Publisher A. Cardon, photograph courtesy of National Gallery of Ireland.
Sometime prior to 1799, Ash Hill passed on to Eyre Evans. We are still attempting to ascertain if Eyre Evans was a descendent of Eyre Coote [I believe he is related: Jane Evans who married Reverend Chidley Coote had a brother named Thomas Evans (d. 1753). He had a son, Eyre Evans (1723-1773). This Eyre had a son also named Eyre Evans (1773-1856). It was he who inherited Ash Hill Towers. He married Anna Maunsell of Limerick]. We believe this could well be the case in light of both parties sharing the same first name as well as ownership of Ash Hill. At about the time of the Famine, ownership of the estate passed out of the Evans family and, in 1858, part of the estate was acquired by Thomas Weldon. In 1860, another part of the estate was acquired by Captain Henry Frederick Evans. In 1880, Evans’ widow sold her interest in the estate to John Henry Weldon, a son of Thomas Weldon.
The Evans family was a large family with many branches that emigrated to New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, England, Canada and U.S.A. One of the branch that emigrated to New Zealand was a prolific writer and much or possibly all of his writings were donated to the Alexander Turnbull library in Wellington, New Zealand.
The estate passed out of the Weldon family to P.M. Lindsay in 1911. Captain Lindsay sold Ash Hill to Mrs. Denny Johnson in 1946.
After Denise Johnson bought the property in 1946 she ran it as a successful stud, and she was a successful point-to-point rider with over 50 wins to her name. In 1956 she married Stado Johnson. After many falls she was told to “take up a safer sport then point-to point riding” by her doctor, she took up 3-day eventing and represented Ireland at an international level.
Today, Ash Hill has been opened to the public and sees a great many people of vaired interests. From architects to historians interested in taking a peek at Ireland’s unique past, all are welcome. Ash Hill is still owned by the Johnson family who enjoy sharing their love of history and the outdoors with the public. Most days, Simon and Nikki Johnson can be found wandering around the estate tending to the garden and pastures. For those interested, Simon can be happily talked into a full tour.“
contact: Owen O’Neill Tel: 086-2541435 Open dates in 2022: Apr 1-30, May 1-31, Sept 1-13, Tue-Sat, Aug 13-21, 9.30am-1.30pm Fee: adult €5, OAP/student €3, child free
We visited during Heritage Week 2022 – write-up coming soon!
The National Inventory tells us it is a :”Detached three-bay two-storey country house, dated 1803, having six-bay block to north (rear) elevation, extending to east of main block and adjoining L-plan multiple-bay two-storey outbuilding. Central full-height breakfront to south (front) elevation. …Flat arched opening to east elevation with cut limestone surround, voussoirs and keystone, and double-leaf timber battened door… Lunette openings to first floor, east and west elevations, having tooled limestone sills, red brick surrounds and timber framed windows…
Once the home of William Massey, this building is currently undergoing restoration. Its size and massing make it a very notable feature on the landscape and the regular façade and restrain in ornamentation adds to the imposing appearance. The retention of timber sliding sash windows and limestone sills is significant, and adds to the architectural significance of the site. Symmetry is evident in the design and is enhanced by the hipped roof, central chimneystacks and breakfront. The outbuildings, walled garden to the rear, and gate lodge all serve to add context to the site. Keystone reads: ‘WM/AD/1803’.” 
7. Glenquin Castle, Newcastle West, Co Limerick– open to visitors
One of the finest tower houses to survive from the 16th century, Gleann an Choim (Glen of the Shelter) is situated a few miles from Ashford at the edge of the road (open to the public during summer).
This castle was a fortified dwelling, for the protection against raids and invaders, more correctly described as a Tower House. 
Robert O’Byrne tells us: “Thought to stand on the site of an older building dating from the 10th century, Glenquin Castle in Killeedy was built by the O’Hallinan family (their name deriving from the Irish Ó hAilgheanáin, meaning mild or noble). When the castle was built seems unclear; both the mid-15th and mid-16th centuries are proposed. Regardless, it is typical of tower houses being constructed at the time right around the country.” 
The website tells us: “Glenstal Abbey is home to a community of Benedictine monks in County Limerick, Ireland, and is a place of prayer, work, education and hospitality. The monastery sits alongside a popular guesthouse and a boarding school for boys, housed within a 19th century Normanesque castle amidst five hundred magnificent acres of farmland, forest, lakes and streams.
We are happy to welcome groups who wish to visit the monastery and spend some time getting to know our place, our tradition and our life.”
The castle was built as a home for Joseph Barrington (1764-1846), 1st Baronet of Limerick. Joseph married Mary Baggott – I wonder are we distantly related? She was the daughter of Daniel Baggot (the landed families website tells us that he was a bootseller in Limerick!). Joseph’s son Matthew, 2nd Baronet was also involved with having the home built.
The front door is flanked by figures of Henry II and Queen Eleanor, who were such a warring couple that one wonders if they were chosen in ignorance: the Queen holds a scroll on which is inscribed the Irish welcome, Cead mile failte. 
Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):
p. 139. “(Barrington, BT/Pb) A massive Norman-Revival castle by William Bardwell, of London, begun in 1837, though not finished till about 1880.
The main building comprises a square, three-storey keep joined to a broad round tower by a lower range.
The entrance front is approached through a gatehouse copied from that of Rockingham Castle, Northamptonshire. The stonework is of excellent quality and there is wealth of carving; the entrance door is flanked by the figures of Edward I and Eleanor of Castille; while the look-out tower is manned by a stone soldier. Groined entrance hall; staircase of dark oak carved with animals, foliage and Celtic motifs, hemmed in by Romanesque columns; drawing room with mirror in Norman frame. Octagonal library at the base of the round tower, lit by small windows in very deep recesses; the vaulted ceiling painted with blue and gold stars; central pier panelled in looking-glass with fireplace. Elaborately carved stone Celtic-Romanesque doorway copied from Killaloe Cathedral between two of the reception rooms. Glen with fine trees and shrubs; river and lake, many-arched bridge. Now a Benedictine Abbey and a well-known boys’ public school.”
Sean O’Reilly writes: “the castle remains one of the most magnificent attempts at creating an Irish version of the medieval Anglo-Norman castle. Yet Glenstal’s castle-like form is not due to the need for defence. In a tradition going back to Georgian castles such as Glin, Co Limerick and Charleville forest, Co Offaly, the intention is to evoke some ancient time, but conbined with the needs of a modern country house.” 
“(p. 172)The appearance of antiquity might also give to its patron at least the suggestion of an ancient lineage, and that in itself, in an increasingly disjointed Irish society, was not without significance. The Barringtons settled in Limerick relatively late, at the end of the seventeenth century, and furthered their fame less though marriage than through hard work, innovative industry and successful trading. Pofessional advancement was not accompanied by significant social advance, and though Joseph Barrington was a baronet, the family were in essence business people rather than aristocracy. Although there was no speedier way of securing the impression of title and history than by having one’s own castle, his son Matthew, Crown solicitor for Munster, must have recognized the discomfort of real castles, and so decided to build a more comfortable, modern version.
“The design passed through numerous phases even before building began. Even after construction commenced in 1838, from designs provided by the successful English architect William Bardwell, changes, indecision and economic variables all added further complications. Initially, before the selection of the design, the problem was the choice of site. Not having inherited lands on which to build, Barrington might use any site, and he decided first on property he had leased in 1818 from the increasingly encumbered Limerick estates of the Lord Carberry. Part of these included the district of Glenstal, at one time intended as a site for the house, and although Barrington later turned to various other sites, he took with him the name. Consequently, in a very characteristic Georgian incongruity, the title of this apparently ancient castle bears no relation to the land on which it sits.“
O’Reilly tells us “[William] Bardwell [1795-1890], little known today despite his long life – he died in 1890 aged 95 – was still less familiar when first employed by Barrington, and Glenstal remains his most important work. After training in England he advanced his studies, rather unusually for the date, in France. He gained some celebrity through competing both for the London Houses of Parliament, and for the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge. It may well have been the Norman tower proposed by Bardwell as his entrance to Parliament that suggested him to his Limerick patron, though as all periods of architecture were intended to be represented in that building, any prospective client may have found something of interest.
The ultimate inspiration for Bardwell’s Glenstal lay less with the designs of the Paines or O’Hara than with the work of Thomas Hopper, notably his Gosford Castle in Armagh, of 1819. This was the first Normal revival castle in these islands, and the first in a style that Hopper would make his own. Neither Barrington nor Bardwell need have been with Gosford itself, for by the late 1830s the type was not uncommon.
…Bardwell was in Ireland in 1840, reviewing the completed work. It then extended from the largest, southern, tower to the gatehouse in the south-east wall. However, work stopped in the following year, and began again only in 1846 or 1847. Construction paused again in 1849, to recommence in about 1853, with Bardwell finally paid off, and a Cork architect, Joshua Hargrave, appointed to complete the work with restricted funds, and to create something approaching a functioning building…
Most carving was executed by an English firm, W.T. Kelsey of Brompton, which provided fifteen cases of columns, capitals and corbels in 1844. However, the detailing of much of the carved work suggests some familiarity with Irish early Christian sources, and echoes abound of recent work at Adare Manor, itself being slowly built over many years, although using native craftsmen.
If much of the carved detail is evocative rather than accurate, there are also striking and significant copies of Irish early Christian design. The style was then only beginning to receive proper attention as part of Ireland’s heritage. The idea may have been inspired again by Dunraven’s Adare – Barrington is known to have had business dealings with the family – for they used such Hiberno-Romanesque designs in the doorcase of their entrance hall. At Glenstal we find superb copies, notably the doorcase connecting the dining room and drawing room. This is a magnificently carved and surprisingly accurate reconstruction of the doorway in Killaloe Cathedral, Co Clare, today recognized as one of the masterpieces of the Irish Romanesque. A lack of understanding of the importance of such work was prevalent in mid-nineteenth-century Ireland – it might be compared to the recent lack of interest in the heritage of the country house – and its introduction here was an important moment in the history of the revival of interest in Ireland’s Christian and Celtic legacy.“
“…It was part of a wider interest in Ireland’s national character that the future of this important house was put in jeopardy. The tragic accidental shooting of the daughter of the 5th Baronet, Charles Barrington, by the IRA in an ambush on the Black and Tans in May 1921, led to the family’s departure and, eventually, the sale of the estate in 1925.“
Timothy William Ferres quotes “The Origins and Early Days of Glenstal” by Mark Tierney OSB, in Martin Browne OSB and Colmán O Clabaigh (eds), The Irish Benedictines: a history (Dublin, 2005):
“When eventually, in 1925, the time came to leave, Sir Charles made a magnificent gesture. He wrote to the Irish Free State government, offering Glenstal as a gift to the Irish nation, specifically suggesting that it might be a suitable residence for the Governor-General.
Mr W T. Cosgrave, the President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State, and Mr Tim Healy, the Governor-General, visited Glenstal in July 1925, and ‘were astonished at its magnificence, which far exceeded our expectations’. However, financial restraints forced them to turn down the offer. Mr Cosgrave wrote to Sir Charles, stating that ‘our present economic position would not warrant the Ministry in applying to the Dail to vote the necessary funds for the upkeep of Glenstal’. “
contact: Donie and Mary Costello Tel: 087-9852462 Open: May 3-June 30, Mon- Sat, Aug 13-21, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €8, child/OAP/student €4
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
“[Gavin, sub Westropp/IFR] An early C19 villa undoubtedly by Sir Richard Morrison, though it is undocumented; having a strong likeness to Morrison’s “show” villa, Bearforest, Co Cork; while its plan is, in Mr. McPartland’s words, “an ingenious contraction of that of Castlegar,” one of his larger houses in the villa manner, 2 storey; 3 bay front; central breakfront; curved balustraded porch with Ionic columns; Wyatt windows under semi-circular relieving arches on either side in lower storey. Eaved roof. 5 bay side elevation. Oval entrance hall. Small but impressively high central staircase hall lit by lantern and surrounded by arches lighting a barrel-vaulted bedroom corridor. The seat of the Gavin family.“
The landed estates database tells us:
“Lewis writes that the manor was granted to William King in the reign of James I and that “the late proprietor” had erected a handsome mansion which was now the “property and residence of Cripps Villiers”. In his will dated 1704 William King refers to his niece Mary Villiers. The Ordnance Survey Field Name Book states that Kilpeacon House was the property of Edward Villiers, Dublin, and was occupied by Miss Deborah Cripps. Built in 1820 it was a large, commodious building of 2 stories. It was the residence of Edward C. Villiers at the time of Griffith’s Valuation, held in fee and valued at £60. Bought by Major George Gavin in the early 1850s from the Villiers and the residence of his son Montiford W. Gavin in the early 20th century. The Irish Tourist Association surveyor writes in 1942 that this house was completed in 1799. The owner was Mrs O’Kelly, her husband having purchased the house in 1927 from the Gavins. This house is still extant and occupied.” 
10. King John’s Castle, Limerick
Maintained by Shannon Heritage. Archiseek tells us: “King John’s Castle, on the south side of Thomond Bridge head, built in 1210 “to dominate the bridge and watch towards Thomond”, is one of the finest specimens of fortified Norman architecture in Ireland.
The castle is roughly square on plan and its 60 meter frontage along the river is flanked by two massive round towers, each over 15m. in diameter with walls 3 metres thick. The castle gate entrance – a tall, narrow gateway between two tall, round towers is quite imposing. There is another massive round tower at the north east corner of the fortification, but the east wall and the square tower defending the south-east corner of the castle, and on which cannons were mounted, is long demolished.
There was a military barracks erected within the walls in 1751, some of which still remains. Houses were also erected in the castle yard at a very much later date. These have now been removed and a modern visitor centre built on the walls.
The walls and towers still remaining of the castle are in reasonably good state of preservation. The domestic buildings of the courtyard do not survive, except for remnants of a 13th century hall and the site of what could be the castle chapel.” 
“The castle was built around 1197 under the orders of King John following the invasion of the Anglo-Normans. It was built on the site of an original Viking settlement believed to date back to 922 AD.” 
The information board tells us that built between 1210-1212 along part of the line of the 12th century ringwork, the gatehouse was the first of its kind to be constructed in Ireland, with boldly projecting towers placed on either side of the gate. It followed the latest trend in European castle building, moving from rectangular to round towers, as curved walls offered better protection from attack, particularly from mining. Mining is when one digs a series of holes or “mines” under the walls in order to weaken the walls – hence comes our term “to undermine.” The two towers of the gatehouse are “D” shaped in plan, with three floors of circular chambers within and a parapet on top.
By flanking the gate, the two towers allowed the castle’s entrance to be defended in depth, from a number of well-positioned arrow loops in the chambers. The defences also included a portcullis and a murder hole. The castle was also supplied via the river, where there is a more modest watergate in the west curtain wall.
“In 1642 the castle was occupied by people escaping the confederate wars and was badly damaged in the Siege of Limerick. The confederate leader Garret Barry had no artillery so dug under the foundations of the castle’s walls, causing them to collapse. There was also considerable damage caused during the Williamite sieges in the 1690s and so the castle has been repaired and restored on a number of occasions.” 
It is a good place here to review the Siege of Limerick. Near the castle is the Treaty Stone: apparently the Treaty of Limerick, which was signed by, amongst others, John Baggot, was signed on this stone, which was later memorialised on a plinth. A series of plaques on the ground around the stone tells us the story of the Siege of Limerick:
“The War of Two Kings. James II, a Catholic, was king of England. Parliament, unhappy with the power that James II had given to the Catholics, invite William and Mary to take over the throne. William of Orange was married to Mary the Protestant daughter of James. William arrives in England. James, fearing for his life, flees to France and gets support from his cousin Louis XIV, William’s enemy. James lands at Kinsale.
William and Mary are crowned King and Queen of England. A French army of 7000 men arrive in Ireland to help James regain his crown.
King William arrives in Carrickfergus with a large army, aiming to take Dublin. Battle of the Boyne. James’ army had 25,000 poorly equipped Irish and French soldiers. William had 36,000 experienced soldiers from all over Europe. King William is victorious.”
King William sent General Schomberg first, who landed in Carrickfergus on 14th June 1690 with 300 troops.
The plaques continue the story: “July 2nd 1690 James flees to France. By the 2nd July, most of the army had gathered in Limerick with Tyrconnell [Richard Talbot (1630-1691), 1st Duke of Tyrconnell] in charge.Limerick, an important port, was the second largest city in the country, with 1000 inhabitants. The Irish military in Limerick had few weapons. A small force of French cavalry were with the Irish cavalry on the Clare side of the Shannon. Their leader was Patrick Sarsfield, Earl of Lucan [1620-1693].
First Siege of Limerick. King William’s army began to set up camp while they waited for their heavy guns and ammunition to arrive from Dublin. Aug 10th 1690, In a daring overnight raid Sarsfield attacked the siege train at Ballyneely.King William continued his siege but massive resistance from the Jacobite army and the people of Limerick, plus bad weather, forced him to call off the siege.“
King William returned to England leaving Baron de Ginkel in charge. Cork and Kinsale surrendered to William’s army. Sarsfield rejects Ginkel’s offer of peace. More French help arrives in Limerick as well as a new French leader, the Marquis St. Ruth. Avoiding Limerick, Ginkel attacked Athlone, which guarded the main route into Connaght. 30th June 1691, Athlone surrendered. St. Ruth withdrew to Aughrim. 12th July 1691 The Battle of Aughrim. The bloodiest battle ever fought on Irish soil. The Jacobites were heading for victory when St. Ruth was killed by a cannonball. Without leadership the resistance collapsed and by nightfall, the Williamites had won, with heavy losses on both sides. Most of the Jacobites withdrew to Limerick.“
There is a John Baggot who fought in the Battle of Aughrim, and lost an eye. He later went to France with the Wild Geese, and served in the court of James II and “James III” (his followers called him James III although he was not the recognised king).
“The city walls had been strengthened since the previous year. Tyrconnell died in mid-August and the promised help from Louis XIV had not yet arrived. The Second Siege of Limerick. Ginkel and the Williamites reached Limerick and took up positions on the Irishtown side. They bombarded the city daily with cannon. They managed to break down a large section of the walls at English town, but could not get into the city. With a large English fleet on the Shannon, the city was cut off and almost completely surrounded. Sept 22nd 1691 Ginkel’s army attacked the Jacobites who were defending Thomond Bridge. The drawbridge was ordered to be raised too soon and about 600 Irish were killed or drowned. This had a profound effect on the morale of the garrison. A council of war was held and the Jacobites decided to call a truce. Leaders from both sides saw that they could gain more by ending the fighting and the discussions were conducted with great courtesy. The Treaty was finally signed on October 3rd 1691, reputedly on the Treaty Stone.
Article Civil and Military, agreed on the 3rd day of October 1691, between the Right Honourable Sir Charles Porter, Knight, and Thomas Coningsby, Esq, Lords Justices of Ireland, and his Excellency the Baron de Ginkel, Lieutenant General, and the Commander in Chief of the English army, of the one part and Sarsfield and his followers on the other.The treaty had civil and military sections. The Civil articles promised freedom to practice their religion to Catholics, but in the years after 1691, harsh laws were passed against Catholics known as the Penal Laws.
The broken treaty embittered relations between the English and Irish for two centuries.
The military parts of the Treaty allowed the Irish Jacobites to join the French army. Most of the Irish (about 14,000 approx.) went to France with Sarsfield. Some of their wives and children also travelled to France. These exiles were known as the Wild Geese. The Wild Geese became part of the French army, which included Irish regimens until the French Revolution. Wine Geese: some of the Wild Geese got into the wine trade, where their names live on today, names such as Michael Lynch, who fought in the battle of the Boyne, Phelan, Barton, and Richard Hennessy of Hennessy cognac.“
John Baggot’s sons (sons of Eleanor Gould), John and Ignatius, became soldiers and one fought for France and one fought for Spain.
“In 1791 the British Army built military barracks suitable for up to 400 soldiers at the castle and remained there until 1922. In 1935 the Limerick Corporation removed some of the castle walls in order to erect 22 houses in the courtyard. These houses were subsequently demolished in 1989 when the castle was restored and opened to the public.” 
contact: Aisling Frawley Tel: 085-8895125 www.odellville.simplesite.com Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, Aug 13-21, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €8, student/OAP/child €4
The National Inventory tells us it is a detached five-bay two-storey over basement house, built c. 1780, with later two-storey extension to rear (south). It continues: “Odell Ville is typical of the small country houses of rural Ireland, often associated with the gentleman farmers of the eighteenth century. The retention of historic fabric such as sliding sash windows, fine tooled limestone details and modest door with its stepped approach all contribute positively to the building’s character. It was once the house of T. A. O’Dell, Esq. Athough of a modest design, the overall massing of the house makes a strong and positive impact on the surrounding countryside. The associated gate lodge adds further context and character to the site.” 
12. Mount Trenchard House and Garden, Foynes, Co. Limerick – section 482
contact: Frieda Keane Carmody Tel: 087-2220692 Open: June 1-31, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, 10am-4pm Fee: adult €10, child/OAP/student €5
We visited Mount Trenchard during Heritage Week 2022 – write-up to follow soon!
The Landed estates database tells us:
“Lewis described this mansion formerly called Cappa as “beautifully situated on the banks of the Shannon”. Marked as “Cappo” on the Taylor and Skinner map of the 1770s. Home of the Rice/Spring Rice family in the 19th century, valued at £40 in the 1850s and at £54 in 1906. Occupied by the Military in 1944, sold to Lady Holland in 1947 and to the Sisters of Mercy in 1953 who opened a school.” 
Mark Bence-Jones tells us in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
“[Spring-Rice, Monteagle of Bandon, B/PB] A late-Georgian house of three storeys over basement, with 2 curved bows on its entrance front, which overlooks the estuary of the Shannon, and a wide curved bow in the centre of its garden front. At one side is a 2 storey Victorian wing almost as high as the main block; at the other side is 1 bay three storey addition and a lower 2 storey wing. Also in the Victorian period, a rather unusal porch was added, in the form of a short length of curving corridor, with an open arched end; it was placed not in the centre of the front, but to the left of the left-hand bow, growing out of the high two storey addition. This was subsequently removed and a more conventional entrace doorway made between the two bows with a pillared and pedimented doorcase. From the garden front, a straight walk between trees ascends the hillside. In recent years the home of Lt-Cmdr C.E. Hall; now owned by an order of teaching nuns.“
Timothy William Ferres tells us in his blog:
“Thomas Rice, of Mount Trenchard, wedded Mary, daughter of Maurice FitzGerald, 14th Knight of Kerry, and had issue, a son, Stephen Edward Rice, of Mount Trenchard, who married, in 1785, Catherine, only child and heir of Thomas Spring, of Castlemaine, County Kerry.” 
Their son was Thomas Spring-Rice (1790-1866), of Brandon, County Kerry, Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1835-39. He married in 1811 the Lady Theodosia Pery, second daughter of Edmund, 1st Earl of Limerick. Thomas was elevated to the peerage in 1839 to become 1st Baron Monteagle of Brandon, County Kerry.
When the 5th Baron Monteagle of Brandon died in 1946, the estate was sold.
Recently the house was used as a Direct Provision Centre.
13. The Turret, Ryanes, Ballyingarry, Co. Limerick– section 482
contact: Donal Mc Goey Tel: 086-2432174 Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31,12 noon-4pm Fee: adult €5, OAP/child/student/ free
We visited The Turret during Heritage Week 2022: write-up to follow soon!
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
“(Odell/LGI1958) A three storey house, 1 room deep, with a curvilinear gable at one end of its front; built 1683 by Major John Odell; said to have incorporated a turret surviving from an old house of the Knights Hospitallers, hence its name. Became a presbytery at the end of C19, when an enclosed porch was added on the front and a wing at the back.”
14. The Old Rectory, Rathkeale, Co. Limerick– section 482
contact: John Roche Tel: 087-8269123 Open: May 1-Nov 27, Saturday and Sundays, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21 10am-2pm
Fee: adult €8, child/OAP/student €3
Places to stay, County Limerick:
1. Adare Manor, Limerick– hotel €€€
Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):
“Originally a two storey 7 bay early C18 house with a 3 bay pedimented breakfront and a high-pitched roof on a bracket cornice; probably built ca 1720-1730 by Valentine Quin [1691-1744], grandfather of the first Earl of Dunraven [Valentine Richard Quin (1752-1824)].”
David Hicks tells us in his Irish Country Houses, A Chronicle of Change that Valentine Quin converted to Protestantism to retain the Quinn lands. In the 1780s his son Windham remodelled the Georgian house in a neoclassical manner and made many improvements including the addition of another storey. His son Valentine Richard Quin inherited but due to debt, moved to England to live a more frugal lifestyle. He was created 1st Baronet Quin, of Adare, Co. Limerick in 1781, and 1st Baron Adare, of Adare in 1800 for voting for the Act of Union, and finally 1st Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl in 1822, Dunravan being chosen in honour of his daughter-in-law Caroline Wyndham and her home Dunraven Castle in Wales. His son Windham Henry (1782-1850), 2nd Earl, returned to the heavily indebted Irish estate in 1801 and managed to reduce debts by leasing land. He was elected MP for Limerick in 1806. He was a supporter of the Union but also an advocate of Catholic emancipation. In 1810 he married Caroline Wyndham, heiress to large estates in Wales, and as a result of her large inheritance, the Quin family name was changed to Wyndham-Quin. The Quin and Wyndham heraldic shields decorate the entrance to the manor. An inscription in Gothic lettering on the south front of the manor reads “This goodly house was erected by Windham Henry Earl of Dunraven and Caroline his Countess without borrowing, selling or leaving a debt.”
Bence-Jones continues: “From 1832 onwards the 2nd Earl, whose wife was the wealthy heiress of the Wyndhams of Dunraven, Glamorganshire, and who was prevented by gout from shooting and fishing, began rebuilding the house in the Tudor Revival style as a way of occupying himself; continued to live in the old house while the new buildings went up gradually behind it only moving out of it about ten years later when it was engulfed by the new work and demolished.
To a certain extent Lord and Lady Dunraven acted as their own architects, helped by a master mason named James Conolly; and making as much use as they could of local craftsmen, notably a talented carver. At the same time, however, they employed a professional architect, James Pain; and in 1846, when the house was 3/4 built, they commissioned A.W. Pugin to design some of the interior features of the great hall. Finally, between 1850 and 1862, after the death of the second Earl, his son, the 3rd Earl [Edwin Richard Wyndham-Quin (1812-1871)], a distinguished Irish archaeologist, completed the house by building the principal garden front, to the design of P.C. [Philip Charles] Hardwick. The house, as completed, is a picturesque and impressive grey stone pile, composed of various elements that are rather loosely tied together; some of them close copies of Tudor originals in England, thus the turreted entrance tower, which stands rather incongruously at one corner of the front instead of in the middle, is a copy of the entrance to the Cloister Court at Eton.“
Bence-Jones continues: “The detail, however, is of excellent quality; and the whole great building is full of interest, and abounds in those historical allusions which so appealed to early-Victorians of the stamp of the second Earl, his wife and son. As might be expected, Hardwick’s front is more architecturally correct than the earlier parts of the house, but less inspired; a rather heavy three storey asymmetrical composition of oriels and mullioned windows, relieved by a Gothic cloister at one end and dominated by an Irish-battlemented tower with a truncated pyramidal roof, surmounted by High-Victorian decorative iron cresting.“
The Archiseek website tells us:
The structure is a series of visual allusions to famous Irish and English homes that the Dunravens admired. It is replete with curious eccentricities such as the turreted entrance tower at one corner rather than in the centre, 52 chimneys to commemorate each week of the year, 75 fireplaces and 365 leaded glass windows. The lettered text carved into the front of the south parapet reads: “Except the Lord build the house, the labour is but lost that built it.” The elaborate decoration is a miracle of stonework – arches, gargoyles, chimneys and bay windows. The interior spaces are designed on a grand scale. One of the most renowned interior spaces is the Minstrel’s Gallery: 132 foot long, 26-1/2 foot high expanse inspired by the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles and lined on either side with 17th Century Flemish Choir Stalls.
Other architects to have collaborated with the Earl include Lewis [Nockalls] Cottingham, Philip Charles Hardwick, and possibly A.W.N Pugin who designed a staircase and ceiling.” 
Mark Bence-Jones continues: “The entrance hall has doorways of grey marble carved in the Irish Romanesque style; the ceiling is timbered, the doors are covered in golden Spanish leather. The great hall beyond, for which Pugin provided designs, is a room of vast size and height, divided down the middle by a screen of giant Gothic arches of stone, and with similar arches in front of the staircase, so that there are Gothic vistas in all directions. A carved oak minstrels’ gallery runs along one side; originally there was also an organ-loft. From the landing of the stairs, a vaulted passage constitutes the next stage in the romantic and devious approach to the grandest room in the house, the long gallery, which was built before the great hall, in 1830s; it is 132 feet long and 26 feet high with a timbered roof; along the walls are carved C17 Flemish choir stalls and there is a great deal of other woodcarving, including C15 carved panelling in the door.
The other principal reception rooms are in Hardwick’s garden front; they have ceilings of Tudor Revival plasterwork and elaborately carved marble chimneypieces; that in the drawingroom having been designed by Pugin.“
Sean O’Reilly writes in his book Irish Houses and Gardens. From the Archives of Country Life.
“Nowhere is the creativity of Adare more apparent than in the Great Hall and its associated spaces. Enclosed by screens of giant and more modest arches, round and pointed, surrounded by corridors, staircases and steps flying in an apparently conflicting succession of directions, and with galleries breaking through walls, not to mention the ubiquitous antlers of the Irish elk, the great hall was one of the most picturesque interiors of its day. Lady Dunraven described the room as being ‘peculiarly adapted to every purpose for which it may be required,’ observing that ‘it has been frequently used with equal appropriateness as a dining room, concert-room, ballroom, for private theatricals, tableaux vivants and other amusements.’ ” 
In 1834 the Dunravens visited Antwerp and purchased the woodcarvings to adorn the gallery. In 1835 they purchased a highly carved and decorative choir stall from St. Paul’s church in Antwerp. Local woodcarvers in Limerick then made an exact copy of the seventeenth century original in order to form a pair.
O’Reilly writes: “If the hall is the most complex space, the most dramatic is the gallery, a huge timber-roofed space rising through two storeys and stretching nearly forty-five metres. With its architectural details, pictures and furnishings, the idea, as Cornforth so well expressed it, was to ‘create 250 years of history overnight.’ The family history from the twelfth century is traced in Willement’s stained glass and portraits – both family heirlooms and acquisitions – which carry the story through in more intimate, if also more vague terms. Seventeenth century Flemish stalls, purchased by the Dunravens during their Continental tour of 1834-36, add to the ambiguous combination of old and new.” 
O’Reilly adds: “It was Pugin’s successor, the English architect P.C. Hardwick, who developed the next and final major phase of work at Adare. This involved the laying out of the surrounding terraces, and the completion of the southern range, that which looks across to the river and occupies the site of the original classical house. Although Hardwick’s work embodies the professional finish of the later nineteenth century, it possesses none of the amateur exuberance of the earlier work. Yet his patron, the 3rd Earl, was to establish himself as one of the foremost authorities of Irish antiquities. He was a friend of the celebrated Irish antiquary George Petrie, and collated the material for the posthumously published Notes on Irish Antiquities, one of the most significant antiquarian publications of the century.” 
The principal reception rooms in Hardwick’s garden front have ceilings of Tudor Revival plasterwork and elaborately carved marble chimneypieces, that in the drawing room was designed by Pugin. The drawing room, library and other reception rooms in the garden front only came into use for the coming of age of the future fourth Earl of Dunraven in 1862. The third Earl married Augusta Charlotte Gould, whose grandmother was Mary Quin, daughter of Valentine Quinn who built the first house at Adare. Augusta’s sister Caroline married Robert Gore-Booth, 4th Baronet of Lissadell, County Sligo, a section 482 property.
The 4th Earl had no sons and he was succeeded by his cousin, Windham Henry Wyndham-Quin (1857-1952), grandson of the 2nd Earl of Dunraven. He lived at Adare for twenty-six years, until his death in 1952. He was married to Eva Constance Aline Bourke, daughter of the 6th Earl of Mayo. It was their son, Richard Southwell Windham Robert Wyndham-Quin, 6th Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl, who made the difficult decision to sell Adare Manor due to difficult economic climate of the 1980s in Ireland. It took a while to find a suitable buyer. Unable to bear the expense of maintaining Adare Manor, the 7th Earl sold it and its contents in 1984.
Mark Bence-Jones adds: “The house stands close to the River Maigue surrounded by a splendid desmesne in which there is a Desmond castle, and a ruined medieval Franciscan friary; one of three monastic buildings at Adare, the other two having been restored as the Catholic and Protestant churches.”
Among the trees southwest of the Manor House are Ogham Stones, which were brought to Adare Manor from Kerry by Edwin, the 3rd Earl of Dunraven. Ogham Stones date from the early 5th Century to the middle of the 7th Century. They are mainly Christian in context and are usually associated with old churches or early Christian burial sites. Ogham inscriptions are in an early form of Irish, frequently followed by Latin inscriptions and often read from the bottom upwards.
2. Ash Hill, Kilmallock, Co Limerick– section 482, Hidden Ireland accommodation €
“It is a vibrant property and the teams behind it are equally passionate and dedicated to the hotel and guests who frequent it. Jim & Mary Long are the proprietors, who purchased the property in 2014 and lovingly restored it and redeveloped it for its opening in December 2017. They are both from West Limerick but reside in London and have always maintained their strong connections to the area and frequent visitors to the hotel and their extended family and friends.”
8. Woodlands House and Spa, Adare, Co Limerick € or €€
“Fitzgeralds Woodlands House Hotel & Spa, which is a founding member of Original Irish Hotels, began life more than 40 years ago as a four-bedroomed bed and breakfast (B&B) run by Mary and Dick (RIP) Fitzgerald as a way to supplement their farming income. Today, it is an 89-room award-winning four-star hotel employing more than 200 people.”
Whole house rental County Limerick
1. Ballyteigue House, Bruree, County Limerick– self-catering whole house accommodation, rental per week. €€ for two, € for 4-10– see above
2. Fanningstown Castle, Adare, County Limerick – sleeps 10
You can see lovely photographs of the castle, inside and out, on the website.
The website tells us: “The castle comprises 5 exquisite reception rooms filled with a unique collection of Irish 18th century furniture. The entrance hall with a screen of Corinthian pillars has a superb Neo-classical plaster ceiling and the enfilade of reception rooms are filled with a unique collection of Irish 18th century mahogany furniture. Family portraits and Irish pictures line the walls, and the library bookcase has a secret door leading to the hall and the very rare flying staircase.
Upstairs there are 15+ individually decorated bedrooms, each with its own private bathroom. Colourful rugs and chaise longues stand at the end of comforting plump beds. Pictures and blue and white porcelain adorn the walls. The bedrooms at the back of the castle overlook the garden, while those at the front have a view of the river.“
The website tells us of the history:
“The FitzGeralds first settled here in the 1200’s at nearby Shanid Castle following the Norman invasion of Ireland. Their war cry was Shanid Abu! (Shanid forever in Gaelic). In the early 14th century the Earl of Desmond, head of the Geraldines, made hereditary Knights of 3 illegitimate sons he had sired with the wives of various Irish chieftains, creating them the White Knight, the Green Knight of Kerry and the Black Knight of Glin. For seven centuries they defended their lands against the troops of Elizabeth I, and during the Cromwellian plantation and Penal laws.
Coming into the hall with its Corinthian columns and elaborate plaster ceiling in the neo classical style, one can see straight ahead among a series of family portraits, some already mentioned, the picture of Colonel John FitzGerald [(1765-1803)the 23rd Knight of Glin], the builder of the house, wearing the uniform of his volunteer regiment the Royal Glin Artillery. In his portrait, which hangs over the Portland stone chimneypiece, he is proudly pointing at his cannon. In May 1779 Colonel John’s father, Thomas FitzGerald, whose portrait in a blue coat is on the left of the dining room door, wrote to Edmund Sexton Pery the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons to warn him that a French naval invasion was expected off the coast. There were rumours that the American privateer Paul Jones had sailed up the Shannon to Tarbert after he had defeated an English ship in Belfast Lough in the summer of 1779. France and Spain had declared war on England and were supporting the American colonists in the War of Independence. Panic spread among the gentry and nobility of Ireland in case the country should be left unprotected in the face of an invasion, and the Irish Volunteer Regiments were raised between 1778 and 1783-40,000 men having been enrolled by 1779 and 100,000 by 1782. Inspired by the success of the Americans and with the strength of the Volunteers behind them, Henry Grattan and his Patriot Party demanded legislative independence for Ireland from Britain following their achievement of the abolition of trade restrictions in 1778. These stirring optimistic times were the background to the building of Glin.”
The website continues: “The new prosperity of the country was reflected in a great deal of public and private building and the accompanying extensive landscaping and tree planting showed the pride of Ireland’s ruling classes in their newly won but brief national independence-an independence which was shaken by the French Revolution and finally shattered by the Rebellion of 1798 and the ensuing Union with England in 1800. Colonel John supported this Union, though his faith in King and Country had faltered under the influence of his United Irishman brother, Gerald during the 1798 Rebellion, when his kinsman Lord Edward FitzGerald is said to have stayed at Glin. Colonel John had no political influence as all the local boroughs were in the hands of the new English settler families. This meant that unlike so many of them he did not spend money on a large Dublin house and thereby concentrated on cutting a greater dash at home.
Unfortunately, we have no direct information about who designed the house or the identity of the craftsmen who styled the superb woodwork such as the mahogany library bookcase with its concealed secret door, the inlaid stair-rail, the flying staircase, or the intricate plaster ceilings. This is because many of the family papers were burned by the so-called ‘Cracked Knight’ in the 1860s. Tradition tells us that the stone for the house was brought across the hills from a quarry in nearby Athea on horse-drawn sleds by a ‘strongman’ contractor called Sheehy. This is the only name connected with the building of the house that has come down to us.
It seems likely that Colonel John started his house sometime in the 1780s as he obviously used the same masons and carpenters as were used for two houses adjoining each other in Henry Street, Limerick, one built for the Bishop of Limerick, later Lord Glentworth, and the other for his elder brother the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, Viscount Pery. These Limerick houses were finished by 1784 and it would seem not unlikely that they are the work of a good local carpenter /builder. Colonel John may well have been his own architect working with the excellent craftsmen that Limerick could obviously produce. The neo-classical plasterwork of the hall is possibly an exception as it is close to the work of two Dublin stuccadores, Charles Thorpe or Michael Stapleton. The motifs on the frieze reminds us of the Volunteer enthusiasm of the house for the military trophies, shields sprouting shamrocks and the full bosomed Irish harp which are to be seen on the hall ceiling all underline Colonel John’s patriotism. The French horn and the music book also reminds us that this hall doubled up as a ballroom; the music undoubtedly being played by the musicians from the artillery band. Colonel John loved music and had been taught the flute by a Gaelic music and dancing master, Seań Bán Aerach Ó Flanagán. The house stands on the banks of the widest part of the river Shannon and the snub nosed dolphins and tridents in· the corners of the main hall ceiling symbolise water, while flower-laden cornucopiae and ears of wheat represent the fruitful grasslands that surround the newly built mansion. Oval plaques with their Pompeian red background portray Roman soldiers depicting war and other figures characterise peace and justice. All this symbolism reminds us of contemporary events in the sea girt island of Ireland. This magnificent ceiling retains much of its original 18th century colouring.
In 1789 Colonel John married his beautiful English wife, the daughter of a rich west country squire, and her coat-of-arms are impaled with his on the hall ceiling. Her portrait hangs above her husbands to the right of the drawing room door in the hall. Her coat-of-arms on the ceiling suggests that the house was still being decorated in 1789 although the money must have been beginning to run out, because work was stopped short on the third floor, and walls remained scored for plaster and pine doors are unpainted to this day. Financial problems must have marred their brief decade together at Glin as in 1791 the Dublin La Touche Bank called in their debts going back as far as 1736 and took a case to Parliament. In June 1801 a private Act of Parliament in Westminster was passed to force part of the Glin estate to be sold in order to pay off the many ‘incumbrances’ which had accrued through the 18th century. This document mentions that Colonel John had expended ‘Six thousand pounds and upward in building a mansion house and offices and making plantations and other valuable and lasting improvements…’. Comparing costs with other roughly contemporary buildings shows us that the cut stone Custom House in Limerick cost £8,000 in 1779 and Mornington House, one of Dublin’s largest houses, was sold for the same sum in 1791, so £6,000 ‘and upwards’ was a substantial sum in those days. Colonel John’s wife Margaretta Maria Fraunceis died at one of her father’s properties, Combe Florey in Somerset a few months after the Act was passed. In 1802, 5,000 acres of Glin were sold, and Colonel John himself died in 1803 leaving an only son, and heir aged 12. In June 1803 the local newspaper the Limerick Chronicle advertised sales of the household furniture, the library, , ‘a superb service of India china’, but no pictures or silver. The hall chairs and amorial sideboard in the hall survived because of their family associations but carriages, farm stock, and ‘the fast-sailing sloop The Farmer, her cabin neatly fitted up’ followed. The FitzGeralds of Glin were almost bankrupt.
It was only because of the long minority of John Fraunceis FitzGerald, the son and heir, and the fact that there were no younger children to provide for, which saw the estate on to 1812 when he attained his majority. Educated at Winchester and Cambridge he regained the family fortunes by successful gambling and though he married an English clergyman’s daughter with no great dower, he built the various Gothic lodges and added the battlements and sugar icing detail to the old Glin House making it into the ‘cardboard castle’ that it is today. This would have been typical of the romantic notions of the 1820s and he obviously thought that the holder of such an ancient title should be living in a castle like his medieval ancestors.
The top floor was never completed and other than further planting, little else was done to Glin for over a hundred years as money was scarce during the Victorian period. Over 5,000 acres were sold by 1837 and for the rest of the century the estate consisted of 5,836 acres and the town of Glin. The rent roll came to between £3,000 and £3,800 a year but with mortgages, windows jointures, and other family charges there was in 1858 a surplus of only £777 16s. 5d. brought in from the estate. Not included in this would have been the income from the salmon weirs on the Shannon. Lack of money may have been a blessing in disguise for there were few Victorian improvements at Glin though the Dublin firm of Sibthorpe redecorated the staircase ceiling and added Celtic revival monograms in two roundels and carried out some stencil work in the library and smoking room. This work would have been done in the 1860s probably at the same time that the Protestant church at the gate was being rebuilt.“
5. Springfield Castle, Drumcollogher, Co. Limerick, Ireland €€€ for 2, € for 5-25.
The website tells us: “Springfield Castle is situated in the heart of County Limerick on a magical 200 acre wooded estate and is approached along a magnificent three quarter mile long avenue, lined with ancient lime trees. Enjoy an exclusive relaxing stay in a one of a kind castle.
Accommodation for up to 25 people in a unique Irish castle we are the perfect place for your vacation, family gathering or boutique wedding in Ireland. It is the ideal place to stay in an Irish castle, Springfield is centrally located allowing you to explore many of Ireland’s fantastic gems including the Wild Atlantic Way. It is a one of a kind place where you can unwind and relax.
Springfield castle is owned By Robert Fitzmaurice Deane the 9th Baron of Muskerry. Robert and his wife Rita are regular visitors. Robert has funded the ongoing restoration in Springfield since 2006, most recently of the garden cottage where he and Rita stay when visiting Ireland.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):
p. 263. “(Petty-Fitzmaurice, sub Lansdowne, M/PB; Deane, Muskerry, B/PB) A three storey C18 house adjoining a large C16 tower house of the FitzGeralds, later bought by the Fitzmaurices, whose heiress married Sir Robert Deane, 6th Bt, afterwards 1st Lord Muskerry, 1775. …A two storey C19 Gothic wing with pinnacle buttresses was added at one end of C18 block, extending along one side of the old castle bawn, a smaller tower at another and outbuildings along two of the remaining sides to form a courtyard. 20C entrance gates and lodge in the New Zealand Maori style. C18 house was burnt 1923 and new house was afterwards made out of C19 Gothic wing, which was extended in the same style.”
The National Inventory tells us it is a “Gothic Revival style country house with courtyard complex, commenced c. 1740, comprising attached eight-bay two-storey country house, rebuilt c. 1925, having single-bay three-stage entrance tower. Earlier two-bay three-storey wing to side (east) having single-bay three-stage gate tower with integral camber-headed carriage arch. Tooled limestone octagonal corner turrets with pinnacles to front (south) elevation of wing gate tower, rendered octagonal turrets and pinnacles to side (west) elevation of main block. Two-bay two-storey double-pile over basement block to rear (north) incorporating possibly earlier three-stage tower to north-west. Additional lean-to stairwell block to side (west) elevation of extension block.
This impressive country house is situated in a picturesque location with extensive panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The house and courtyard complex are the ancestral home of Lord and Lady Muskerry and occupies the site of an old bawn associated with the sixteenth-century tower house. The first record of a castle at Springfield is dated to 1280, when the Norman Fitzgeralds arrived. A visible mark to the tower house represents part of the roof line of an earlier eighteenth-century mansion that was built by John Fitzmaurice, a grandson of the 20th Lord of Kerry. Sir Robert Deane [1745-1818] married Ann Fitzmaurice in 1780, the sole heiress of Springfield and was a year later awarded the title Baron Muskerry. This mansion was burnt in 1921 by the IRA who were afraid that the occupying Black and Tans were going to convert the buildings into a garrison. The current house was rebuilt by ‘Bob’ Muskerry, the 5th Baron and follows the Gothic Revival style of the nineteenth century, with characteristic pinnacled turrets to the house and main entrance. The castellated entrance towers with tooled stone forming the main fabric of the turrets and a grand entrance door greatly enliven the façade of the building. The fine Gothic Revival style gate tower provides a glorious entrance to the substantial courtyard. A large variety of outbuildings display great skill and craftsmanship with well executed rubble stone walls and numerous carriage arches helping to maintain the historic character of the site. A curious mechanised clock controlling a mechanical calendar, lunar calendar and a bell constructed by the current owner’s great grand uncle is a mechanical masterpiece of great technical interest. Coupled with the archaeological monuments, this complex has a significant architectural value at a national level.“
The website tells us about the history:
“Steeped in history, it is the ancestral home of Lord and Lady Muskerry, whose motto Forti et fideli nihil dificile which means “nothing is difficult to the strong and faithful” underlies over 700 years of family history.
The earliest castle at Gort na Tiobrad, the Irish name for Springfield Castle, is reputed to date from 1280 when one of the Fitzgeralds, a junior member of the Earl of Desmond’s family, married a lady of the O Coilleains, who were the Gaelic Lords of Claonghlais. He took the title Lord of Claonghlais and subsequently built a castle at Springfield. The Tower house and build circa 1480. This was the beginning of a long association of the Fitzgeralds with the area. They were patrons to Irish poets and musicians.As you enter the impressive gateway to Springfield Castle a plaque on the wall commemorates Daithi O’Bruadair, a classical Irish poet of the seventeenth century who lived at the castle with his patrons, the Fitzgerald family, recording their lives (and general events). He described Springfield Castle as “a mansion abounding in poetry, prizes and people”
The Fitzgeralds soon became, as the saying goes “more Irish than the Irish themselves” and had an oft-times difficult relationship with the British monarchy. In 1691 they had their lands confiscated for the third and last time and Sir John Fitzgerald went to France with Sir Patrick Sarsfield to continue fighting the English there, never to return to Ireland. A younger son of the 20th Lord of Kerry, William Fitzmaurice [1670-1710], (cousins to the Fitzgeralds) then bought Springfield castle. His son, John, built a very large 3 story early Georgian mansion attached to the existing buildings. The Fitzmaurices occupied Springfield Castle until Sir Robert Deane married Ann Fitzmaurice, the sole heiress, in 1780. He was awarded the title Baron Muskerry in 1781 and the title Lord Muskerry has stayed at Springfield Castle to this day. The castle was burnt in 1921 during the war of Independence and rebuilt by “Bob” Muskerry the 5th Baron in 1929. The 9th Baron, Robert Fitzmaurice Deane, lives and works in South Africa at present, and started restoring the castle in 2006. Robert’s sister Betty, her husband Jonathan and their children Karen and Daniel run Springfield Castle and look forward to meeting you.“
 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.
contact: Jemma Smith Tel: 041-9884477 www.slanecastle.ie Open in 2022: Jan 16, 23, 30, Feb 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
Today (Saturday 27th April 2019) my husband Stephen and I made our first official blog trip. We started in the “ancient east,” going to Slane Castle in County Meath. The land around the Boyne River is beautiful, rolling and fertile. It took almost exactly one hour to drive from our home in Dublin, taking the M1 which I find easier than the M2 through the city’s north side, with which I’m less familiar. Our timing was perfect, we arrived at 2:10pm, in time for the 2:15 tour – there are tours every hour on the quarter hour. 
The castle is three storeys over basement, in the Gothic Revival style. There is a bow on the back side of the castle, facing the river, and the basement serves as the ground floor on this side due to the steep slope down to the River Boyne. The bow forms a round tower, but you cannot see it as you approach the castle as the river is behind.
Our guide Matthew told us that the castle was reconstructed and enlarged by William Burton Conyngham (1733-1796). It was built on the foundations of a medieval castle of the Fleming family, replacing an earlier house. William Burton Conyngham was a classicist and the front hall features Greek columns and key patterns on the walls and many marble Greek sculptures, including a sculpture of King George IV of England, donated by the king himself.
William Burton Conyngham argued with his architects, Matthew told us, so ended up having three architects for his castle: James Gandon, James Wyatt and Francis Johnston. According to Mark Bence-Jones in A Guide to Irish Country Houses, Francis Johnston completed the house for the the second Lord Conyngham’s son, nephew of William Burton Conyngham, Henry (1766-1832), who later became the 1st Marquess Conyngham. Other architects were consulted at various times, including James Gandon, who most famously designed the Custom House and the Four Courts in Dublin, and Emo in County Laois. Francis Johnston designed the General Post Office in Dublin, and Townley Hall, County Louth. Another architect consulted was a favourite of King George IV, the English Thomas Hopper.
In 1785 the castle was remodelled to the design of James Wyatt (1746 – 1813). Wyatt also designed another house on the section 482 list this year, Curraghmore in County Waterford, and a house not on the list, unfortunately, as I would love to see inside, Abbeyleix House (incidentally, my father grew up in Abbeyleix and we used to enjoy the gardens which used to be open and which were reknowned for the bluebells. Also, coincidentally, according to wikipedia, Wyatt spent six years in Italy, 1762–68, in company with Richard Bagot of Staffordshire, who was Secretary to the Earl of Northampton’s embassy to the Venetian Republic. My family is rumoured to be descended from the Staffordshire Bagots, although I have not found the connection!).
The Conyngham family have owned the castle since 1703.
The Flemings of Slane
The Conynghams bought the land in Slane after it was confiscated from the Flemings. In 1175, Richard Le Fleming built a castle at the western end of Slane hill and, three generations later, Simon Fleming was created Baron of Slane. 
The Conynghams did not acquire Slane directly after it was confiscated from the Flemings – Terry Trench of the Slane History and Archaeology Society writes that the estate changed hands, at least on paper, seven times between 1641 and 1703. The estate was taken from the Flemings in 1641, when William Fleming, the 14th Baron Slane, joined the Catholic Irish forces in rebellion against the British. He remained loyal to the king, but objected to the laws that the British parliament passed to make the Irish parliament subservient to the British parliament. The estate was restored to William’s son Randall under the Act of Settlement and Distribution of Charles II’s reign, by decree dated 27th March 1663.  Many estates that had been confiscated by Cromwell’s parliament were restored when Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660.
The Flemings had their land confiscated again as Christopher, 17th Baron Slane (1669-1726), backed James II in his battles against William of Orange. He served in the Irish Parliament of King James II in 1689, and as colonel in James’s army in Ireland 1689-91, fighting in both the Battle of the Boyne and in Aughrim, where he was taken prisoner by William’s forces. Released, he emigrated and fought in the French and Portuguese armies, as did many of James II’s followers who were attainted and lost their estates, as they needed to be able to earn a living. He was later reconciled with Queen Anne of England (daughter of James II) and returned to Ireland, to live in Anticur, County Antrim. In 1703, Henry Conyngham purchased the estate of Slane.
The Conynghams of Slane
The Conyngham motto, Over Fork Over, recounts the way Duncan hid from Macbeth (familiar to us from Shakespeare). Matthew told us that Duncan hid in straw in a barn, having it forked over him. After that, he managed to defeat Macbeth and to become king. So the Conynghams are descendants of a Scottish king!
Alexander Conyngham moved from Scotland to Ireland when he was appointed in 1611 to be the first Protestant minister to Enver and Killymardin the diocese of Raphoe, County Donegal.  He was appointed dean of Raphoe in 1631.
He settled at Mount Charles, County Donegal, on an estate he leased from John Murray, earl of Annandale, the owner of ‘a vast estate’ in Scotland. Conyngham subsequently acquired the Mount Charles property through his marriage to the earl’s grand-neice, Marian, daughter of John Murray of Broughton, in Scotland (see ).
Alexander’s son Albert lived at Mountcharles.  Albert had fought with William III’s troops in the Battle of the Boyne, against Fleming and James II’s troops.
Albert married Mary, daughter of the Right Reverend Robert Leslie, Bishop of Raphoe – this Bishop is the ancestor of the Leslie family of Castle Leslie in County Monaghan, another property on the Section 482 list that I will be visiting. Albert was killed by Irish Royalist rebels, and succeeded by his only surviving son, Henry (1664-1705).
Henry, a military man who also served as MP for County Donegal, purchased the land in Slane in 1703.
He built himself a residence, which he called Conyngham Hall, on the foundations of an older castle formerly belonging to the Flemings.
Henry Conyngham (d. 1705) fought first in James II’s army, but then persuaded his regiment to transfer their loyalty to William III.
Henry’s son Henry (1705-1781) inherited the Slane estate. Henry became an Member of the Irish Parliament and was raised to the peerage in 1753 to the title of Baron Conyngham of Mount Charles, and later became Viscount and eventually, Earl. He died without a son so the Barony passed to his nephew, William Burton (his sister Mary had married Francis Burton).
William Burton (1733-1796) took the name of Conyngham upon inheriting the estate in 1781. It was he who rebuilt Slane Castle.
His brother Francis Pierpoint Burton also who then took the name of Conyngham in 1781 as he inherited the title to become 2nd Baron Conyngham of Mount Charles, Co. Donegal. He died six years later, in 1787. [see 3]. In 1750 he had married Elizabeth, the daughter of amateur architect Nathaniel Clements, whose work we will see later in other houses on the section 482 list of heritage properties. For himself, Nathaniel Clements built what is now the Áras an Uachtaráin, the residence of our President, Michael D. Higgins, in Phoenix Park in Dublin.
The castle and estate passed to Francis 2nd Baron Conyngham’s son Henry (1766-1832). Henry succeeded as the 3rd Baron Conyngham of Mount Charles, Co. Donegal in 1787. He served as a politician and moved quickly up the ranks of the peerage and was Lord Steward of the Royal household between 1821-30. He married Elizabeth Denison in 1794.
In 1821 King George IV visited Ireland, and he spent time in the Castle with his lover, Elizabeth, wife of Frances Pierpoint Burton Conyngham. “In return,” as our guide told us, the king made Conyngham a Marquess, although this isn’t quite true as he became Marquess in 1816. .
One of the rooms of the castle, the Smoking Room, has two cartoons from the period mocking the King and his consort Elizabeth, drawing them as overweight. In one, she aids her son when he has to move from the Castle of Windsor where he was Royal Chamberlain. It was he who announced to Victoria that she was Queen, upon death of the previous monarch. He was let go from his position when he tried to move his lover into his rooms in Windsor. His mother came to fetch him, with several wheelbarrows, the story goes, and she took all the furniture from his rooms. Somehow she brought a grand piano back from Windsor to Slane Castle where it sat in a specially made arbor for music in the Smoking room, until it was destroyed by a fire in Slane Castle in the 1990’s. One of the Punch style cartoons is of Elizabeth with a wheelbarrow fetching her son from Windsor. I can’t quite remember the other – it had King George IV and herself in a carriage. The Irish were very annoyed that when he came to Ireland he spent his entire time at Slane Castle!
The Irish Aesthete writes of the visit:
“Neither the king nor his inamorata were in the first flush of youth, and both were equally corpulent. These circumstances however did nothing to dampen their ardour. As was written of them at the time, ‘Tis pleasant at seasons to see how they sit/ First cracking their nuts, and then cracking their wit/ Then quaffing their claret – then mingling their lips/ Or tickling the fat about each other’s hips.’ And according to one contemporary observer, Lady Conyngham ‘lived exclusively with him during the whole time he was in Ireland at the Phoenix Park. When he went to Slane, she received him dressed out as for a drawing-room; he saluted her, and they then retired alone to her apartments.’” 
Our tour started with a video of Charles Conyngham, now known as Lord Mount Charles, telling of his childhood in the Castle, growing up in a very old-world upper class manner. He did not join his parents at the dining table until he was twelve years old, dining until then in the Nursery. His nurse, Margaret Browne, came to the Castle at 16 years old, and he held her in such regard that he named his bar after her.
Lord Mount Charles described how he started out, when he had to take over the Castle, with a restaurant, which is now the Gandon Restaurant. To further fund the Castle maintenance, Lord Mount Charles started concerts at the venue, beginning with Thin Lizzy in 1981. To seal the deal, the next show was the Rolling Stones! With such august imprimateur, the Castle’s concerts became world-famous and featured many top performers including David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Queen.
Henry 1st Marquess Conyngham’s son, Francis Nathaniel Burton Conyngham (1797-1876) inherited the property and the title, to become 2nd Marquess Conyngham. His daughter Frances Caroline Maria married Gustavus William Lambart (1814-1886), who we will come across later as the owner of Beauparc in County Meath, another Section 482 property https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/07/22/beauparc-house-beau-parc-navan-co-meath/ . The current owner of Slane inherited Beauparc from the Lambarts.
A son, George Henry (1825-1882) became 3rd Marquess Conyngham, and his son, Henry Francis the 4th Marquess. He married the daughter of the 4th Baron Mollens of Ventry, County Kerry. Their son the 5th Marquess died unmarried, so the title passed to his brother, Frederick William Burton, 6th Marquess. The current Marquess is the 8th, who is known as Lord Henry Mount Charles, but is officially 8th Marquess Conyngham since 2009.
A disasterous fire in the castle in 1991 destroyed the roof and one third of the castle.
The magnificent library with its intricate ceiling and impressive wooden chandelier was saved by two firemen fighting the fire from within the room, battling for nine hours. The smoke was so thick that one couldn’t see the ceiling. I think they deserve a plaque in the room to recognise their effort! Meanwhile the family saved as many priceless historic paintings and antiques as they could, including a huge portrait of King George IV that is now hanging again in the library, by cutting it from its giant gilt frame then taking the frame apart into four pieces in order to get it out through the doors. Lord Mount Charles now suffers with his lungs, probably partially as a result of long exposure to the flames and smoke. It took ten years to reconstruct the castle, but it has been done excellently so traces of the fire barely remain.
We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, as usual with these properties. There is a picture of the ornate roof in the library on the wonderful blog of the Irish Aesthete .
Mark Bence-Jones describes the room in his 1988 book (published before the fire, but this room remained intact!), A Guide to Irish Country Houses:
“…the great circular ballroom or library which rises through two storeys of the round tower and is undoubtedly the finest Gothic Revival room in Ireland; with a ceiling of Gothic plasterwork so delicate and elaborate that it looks like filigree. Yet this, too, is basically a Classical room; the Gothic ceiling is, in fact, a dome; the deep apses on either side of the fireplace are such as one finds in many of Wyatt’s Classical interiors, except that the arches leading into them are pointed; they are decorated with plasterwork that can be recognised as a very slightly Gothicized version of the familiar Adam and Wyatt fan pattern.“
Of the tales on the tour, I especially enjoyed the story of the funeral of a soldier’s leg. Apparently it was quite the custom to have funerals for body parts – his leg had to be amputated on the field of battle and the soldier brought it back to be buried with a full-scale military funeral. It must have been to do with the fact that a person’s body is to be resurrected on the Last Day, so it’s good to know where all the parts are! Cremation used to be forbidden in the Catholic church, as somehow it would be too difficult for God to put the ashes back together – never mind a disintegrated body!
We had lunch in the bar after the tour.
There is an adjoining distillery in what used to be the stables, and a tour of that can be purchased in combination if desired. Lord Charles’s mother bred horses before the stables were converted. The stables were designed by Capability Brown.
According to the Irish Aesthete:
“Henry Conyngham, grandson of General Henry Conyngham who purchased the property, around 1770 invited Capability Brown around 1770 to produce a design both for the landscaping of the parkland at Slane, and also for a new stable block. In the collection of the Irish Architectural Archive in Dublin a drawing survives of Brown’s proposal for the latter. It is not unlike the finished building, but more elaborate than what we see today.” 
I found a blog by the Irish Aesthete on a portrait now in Slane, of Lady Elizabeth wife of the first Marqess’s daughter, Lady Maria Conyngham. Reportedly Lady Elizabeth looked very like her daughter – which one would not guess from the unflattering cartoons of her! 
“She probably became his [George IV’s] lover in 1819, when he was Prince Regent, but finally supplanted her predecessor, Isabella Seymour-Conway, Marchioness of Hertford, after he became king in 1820. He became besotted with her, constantly “kissing her hand with a look of most devoted submission.” While his wife Caroline of Brunswick was on trial in 1820 as part of efforts to divorce her, the king could not be seen with Lady Conyngham and was consequently “bored and lonely.” During his coronation, George was constantly seen “nodding and winking” at her. “Lady Conyngham’s liaison with the king benefited her family. Her husband was raised to the rank of a marquess in the Peerage of the United Kingdom and sworn to the Privy Council, in the coronation honours of 1821. He was also given several other offices, including Lord Steward of the Household and the lieutenancy of Windsor Castle. Her second son was made Master of the Robes and First Groom of the Chamber.”