Office of Public Works properties: County Kilkenny, Leinster

Kilkenny:

1. Dunmore Cave, County Kilkenny – site currently closed

2. Jerpoint Abbey, County Kilkenny

3. Kells Priory, County Kilkenny

4. Kilkenny Castle, County Kilkenny

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

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

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

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

From the OPW website:

Dunmore Cave, not far from Kilkenny town, is a series of limestone chambers formed over millions of years. It contains some of the most impressive calcite formations found in any Irish underground structure.

The cave has been known for many centuries and is first mentioned in the ninth-century Triads of Ireland, where it is referred to as one of the ‘darkest places in Ireland’. The most gruesome reference, however, comes from the Annals of the Four Masters, which tells how the Viking leader Guthfrith of Ivar massacred a thousand people there in AD 928. Archaeological investigation has not reliably confirmed that such a massacre took place, but finds within the cave – including human remains – do indicate Viking activity.

Dunmore is now a show cave, with guided tours that will take you deep into the earth – and even deeper into the past.

2. Jerpoint Abbey, Thomastown, County Kilkenny.

Jerpoint Abbey, May 2016.

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

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

From the OPW website:

Founded in the 12th century, Jerpoint Abbey is one of the best examples of a medieval Cistercian Abbey in Ireland. The architectural styles within the church, constructed in the late twelfth century, reflect the transition from Romanesque to Gothic architecture. The tower and cloister date to the fifteenth century.

Jerpoint is renowned for its detailed stone sculptures found throughout the monastery. Dating from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries these include mensa [table] tombs from the O’Tunney school, an exquisite incised depiction of two 13th century knights, the decorated cloister arcades along with other effigies and memorials. 

Children can explore the abbey with a treasure hunt available in the nearby visitor centre. Search the abbey to discover saints, patrons, knights, exotic animals and mythological creatures.

A small but informative visitor centre houses an excellent exhibition.

3. Kells Priory, Kells, County Kilkenny:

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

From the OPW website:

Kells Priory owes its foundation to the Anglo-Norman consolidation of Leinster. Founded by Geoffrey FitzRobert, a household knight and trusted companion of William Marshal the priory was one element of Geoffrey’s establishment of the medieval town of Kells. 

Although founded in c. 1193 extensive remains exist today which include a nave, chancel, lady chapel, cloister and associated builds plus the remains of the priory’s infirmary, workshop, kitchen, bread oven and mill. The existence of the medieval defences, surrounding the entire precinct, underline the military aspect of the site and inspired the priory’s local name, the ‘Seven Castles of Kells’.

4. Kilkenny Castle, County Kilkenny:

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

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

From the OPW website:

Built in the twelfth century, Kilkenny Castle was the principal seat of the Butlers, earls, marquesses and dukes of Ormond for almost 600 years. Under the powerful Butler family, Kilkenny grew into a thriving and vibrant city. Its lively atmosphere can still be felt today.

The castle, set in extensive parkland, was remodelled in Victorian times. It was formally taken over by the Irish State in 1969 and since then has undergone ambitious restoration works. It now welcomes thousands of visitors a year.

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

Kilkenny Castle has been standing for over eight hundred years, dominating Kilkenny City and the South East of Ireland. Originally built in the 13th century by William Marshall, 4th Earl of Pembroke, as a symbol of Norman control, Kilkenny Castle came to symbolise the fortunes of the powerful Butlers of Ormonde for over six hundred years. [2]

In 1967 James Arthur Norman Butler (1893-1971), 6th Marquess and 24th Earl of Ormonde sold the Castle to the Kilkenny Castle Restoration Committee for £50. Two years later it went into state ownership.

William Marshall (about 1146-1219) was married to the daughter of “Strongbow” Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke. With the marriage, he gained land and eventually, the title, Earl of Pembroke. The daughter of Strongbow, Isabel, inherited the title of 4th Countess of Pembroke “suo jure” i.e. herself (her brother, who died a minor, was the 3rd Earl). Hence William Marshall became the 4th Earl through his wife, but then then was created the 1st Earl of Pembroke himself ten years after their marriage. They seem to have settled in Ireland and created place for themselves, beginning with setting up the town of New Ross and then restoring Kilkenny town and castle – a castle had pre-dated them, according to the Kilkenny Castle website. It tells us that the present-day castle is based on the stone fortress that Marshall designed, comprising an irregular rectangular fortress with a drum-shaped tower at each corner. Three of these towers survive to this day.

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

By 1200, Kilkenny was the capital of Norman Leinster and New Ross was its principal port. The Marshalls also founded the Cistercian abbeys at Tintern in County Wexford and Duiske in Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny, as well as the castles at Ferns and Enniscorthy. He died and was buried in England. [3]

In 1317, the de Clare family sold the Kilkenny castle to Hugh Despenser. The Despensers were absentee landlords. In 1391 the Despensers sold the castle to James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormond, 9th Chief Butler of Ireland (1360–1405). The first Butler to come to Ireland was Theobald Walter Le Botiller or Butler, 1st Baron Butler, 1st Chief Butler of Ireland (1165–1206). He was called “Le Botiller” because he received the monopoly of the taxes on wines being imported into Ireland (which The Peerage website tells us was eventually purchased back by the Crown from the Marquess of Ormonde for £216,000 in 1811.)

The Butlers were an important family in Ireland. They fought for the king in France and Scotland, and held positions of power, including Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the monarch’s representative in Ireland.

The castle now forms a “u” shape, because in the time of Oliver Cromwell’s invasion, the fourth wall fell.[4] After the Restoration of 1660, there was a major rebuilding of the old castle. In 1826, another remodelling of the castle began. In 1935, the Butler family held a great auction, selling all of the castle’s furnishings.

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

Thomas Butler the 7th Earl of Ormond (d. 1515) lacked a male heir, and on his death, the Earldom was contested between Sir Piers Butler and his grandchildren led by Sir Thomas Boleyn. Thomas was favoured by King Henry VIII when Henry married his daughter Anne Boleyn. Piers Butler (1467-1539) was a descendant of the 3rd Earl of Ormond. Piers relinquished the claim to the title Earl of Ormond to Boleyn and was created Earl of Ossory by Henry VIII. The lands of the 7th Earl were divided between both parties. After a rapid escalation of disputes with rural Fitzgeralds and Boleyns, Piers regained his position and was recognised Earl of Ormond in February 1538.

The Crown hoped Piers would improve the Crown’s grip over southern Ireland. Piers the 8th Earl of Ormond gained much from Crown, including suppressed monasteries. He married Margaret Fitzgerald, daughter of Gerald, 8th Earl of Kildare, in marriage arranged for the purpose of ending the long-standing rivalry between the two families. They lived in Kilkenny Castle and greatly improved it. Margaret urged Piers to bring over skilled weavers from Flanders and she helped establish industries for the production of carpets, tapestries and cloth. Margaret and her husband commissioned significant additions to the castles of Granagh and Ormond. They also rebuilt Gowran Castle, which had been originally constructed in 1385 by James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormond.

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

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

Walter Butler’s claim to the family estates was blocked by James I. The latter orchestrated the marriage of Black Tom’s daughter and heiress Elizabeth to a Scottish favourite Richard Preston, Baron Dingwall. The King gave Preston the title Earl of Desmond (after the Fitzgeralds lost the title, due to their Desmond Rebellion, and awarded his wife most of the Ormond estate, thus depriving Walter of his inheritance. Walter refused to submit and was imprisoned for eight years in the Fleet, London. He was released 1625. Walter’s nine-year-old grandson, James, became the heir to the titles but not the estates.

James Butler (1610-88) 12th Earl of Ormond (later 1st Duke of Ormond) was the eldest son of Thomas Butler, Viscount Thurles, and his wife Elizabeth Poyntz. Following his father’s death in 1619, 9-year-old James became direct heir to the Ormond titles. He was made a royal ward and was educated at Lambeth Palace under the tutelage of George Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury.

In order to reunite the Ormond title with the estates, plans were made for a marriage between James and the daughter of the Prestons, Elizabeth, to resolve the inheritance issue. In 1629 James married his cousin Elizabeth Preston and reunited the Ormond estates.

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

James succeeded to the Ormond titles in 1633 on the death of his grandfather, Walter Butler, 11th Earl of Ormond.

The website tells us: “A staunch royalist, Ormond was appointed commander-in-chief of the army in Ireland in 1641. He served his first term of three as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1648 to 1650.  Following the defeat of the royalists in Ireland, Ormond went to exile and spent most of the years 1649 to 1660 abroad, moving about Europe with the exiled court of Charles II. After the restoration of the monarchy in England, Ormond was rewarded with a dukedom and several high offices by a grateful king. Though he enjoyed the king’s favour, Ormond had enemies at court and as a result of the machinations of the Cabal, which included powerful figures such as the Earl of Shaftesbury, he was dismissed from his post as Lord Lieutenant in 1669. When he was raised to a dukedom in the English peerage in 1682, Ormond left Ireland to reside in England. During his last term as Lord Lieutenant (1677-85), he played a major role in the planning and founding of the Royal Hospital for old soldiers at Kilmainham, near Dublin. The last decade of his life was marked by tragedy: all three of his sons and his wife died during that time. He died at his residence at Kingston Lacy in Dorset was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Note that the “Cabal” was the term used to refer to the clique around the king. The term comes from an acronym of their names, Sir Thomas Clifford 1st Baron Clifford, Henry Benet 1st Earl of Arlington, George Villiers 2nd Duke of Buckingham, Anthony Ashley Cooper, Lord Ashley 1st Earl of Shaftesbury and John Maitland, 1st Duke and 2nd Earl of Lauderdale.

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

The 1st Duke of Ormond carried out improvements to the castle. Mark Bence-Jones describes:

The Great Duke transformed the castle from a medieval fortress into a pleasant country house, rather like the chateau or schloss of contemporary European princeling; with high-pitched roofs and cupolas surmounted by vanes and gilded ducal coronets on the old round towers. Outworks gave place to gardens with terraces, a “waterhouse” a fountain probably carved by William de Keyser, and statues copied from those in Charles II’s Privy Gardens. The Duchess seems to have been the prime mover in the work, in which William (afterwards Sir William) Robinson, Surveyor-General and architect of the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, was probably involved, supervising the construction of the Presence Chamber 1679. Robinson is also believed to have designed the magnificent entrance gateway of Portland and Caen stone with a pediment, Corinthian pilasters and swags which the second Duke erected on the street front of the castle ca 1709. Not much else was done to the castle in C18, for the Ormondes suffered a period of eclipse following the attainder and exile of the 2nd Duke, who became a Jacobite after the accession of George I.” [5]

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

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

Photograph courtesy of Kilkenny Castle website, Entrance Hall.

The website tells us that there has been an entrance hall here at least since the 17th century rebuilding of the castle. The north doorway through the massive curtain wall was remodelled on two occasions in the 19th century. The black and white stone floor is laid with Kilkenny Black Marble and local sandstone, laid in the 19th century.

Photograph courtesy of Kilkenny Castle website, The Grand Staircase.

This 19th century mahogany staircase was designed and made by the local firm of Furniss & Son, Kilkenny and leads to the Tapestry Room and first floor. The use of mahogany in domestic furniture, which is so synonymous with the Grand House, is virtually unknown before the 18th century. Most of the wood imported came from the Jamaican Plantations which were cleared in order to plant sugar cane and cotton. During the 19th century this staircase was hung with several beautiful tapestries from the Decius Mus suite, some of which are now housed in the Tapestry Room.

The Tapestry Room in the North Tower shows how the medieval castle was transformed in the 17th century to become a magnificent baroque ducal palace. This room was called the Great Chamber in the 17th century and the walls were decorated with embossed and gilded leather hangings on the walls; a fragment of a late 17th/ early 18th century leather has been hung beside the door to give an impression of how rich the room must have been. In the 18th century, they were replaced by a set of tapestries.

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

The ground floor also contains the State Dining Room. The website tells us that this was the formal dining room in the 1860’s. Historic evidence shows that this room was hung in the late 19th century with a red flock paper when it was a billiard room. The strong blue on the walls echoes the colour in the original 19th century-stained glass windows and provides a backdrop for the Langrishe family portraits, which originated in Knocktopher Abbey, Kilkenny, and are now in the care of the State. Most large estate houses would have had both a formal and informal Dining Room. The collection of silverware contains some pieces from the original 18th century collection, purchased by Walter Butler, the 18th Earl after his marriage to the wealthy heiress Anna Maria Price Clarke.

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

From the website: “Today the first floor space is occupied by three rooms: Anteroom, Library and Drawing Room, as it was in the 19th century. The processional lay out of the rooms, each opening into the next is characteristic of the Baroque style of the 17th century and was know as an ‘enfilade’ suite of rooms. Baroque protocol dictated that visitors of lower rank than their host would be escorted by servants down the enfilade to the nearest room that their status allowed. In the 16th and 17th century the State Rooms were situated on this floor. 17th century history records that it was in these state apartments that James Butler 1st Duke of Ormonde received the Papal Nuncio Giovanni Battista Rinuccini during the Irish Confederate Wars of that century. An Anteroom was a small room used as a waiting room, that leads into a larger and more important room. The Anteroom and the room below,  today the Serving Room, were constructed in the area where an earlier stone staircase was situated.” The anteroom features a reproduction poplin wallpaper and bronze figurines in niches.

The Ante Room.

The anteroom leads to the library. “The interior decoration is a faithful recreation of the furnishing style of the mid to late 19th century. Thanks to a salvaged fabric remnant found behind a skirting board, it was possible to commission the French silk poplin on the walls in its original pattern and colour from the firm of Prelle in Lyons in France. The claret silk damask curtains are also based on the originals were made in Ireland. One of the nine massive curtain pelmets is original and an Irish firm of Master Gilders faithfully reproduced matching gilt reproductions. The bookcases were also reproduced based on one original bookcase acquired by the OPW in the 1980s, this original with its 19th century glass stands in the right end corner of the library. The matching pair of pier mirrors over the mantelpieces was conserved and re gilded.”

The Library. Photograph courtesy of Kilkenny Castle website.

The Drawing Room is typically the room in a house where guests and visitors are entertained. Drawing rooms were previously known as ‘withdrawing rooms’ or ‘withdrawing chambers’ which originated in sixteenth century.

The fabrics in this room are vintage glazed and block printed English and French chintzes and have been chosen to recreate the style of the rooms as they appeared in the 19th century family photographs. The Drawing Room picture hang reflects the Edward Ledwich description in his 1789 “Antiquities of Ireland!” when this room was the Presence Chamber or Alcove.

The Drawing Room, courtesy of Kilkenny Castle website.

The 1st Duke of Ormond had three sons: Thomas (1634-1680), 6th Earl of Ossory; Richard (1639-1686), 1st and last Earl of Arran; and John (1634-1677), 1st and last Earl of Gowran. He had two daughters, Elizabeth (1640-1665) and Mary (1646-1710). Mary married William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Devonshire and Elizabeth, the 2nd Earl of Chesterfield.

Thomas Butler (1634-1682) 6th Earl of Ossory was the father of the 2nd Duke of Ormond. Thomas was a soldier and Naval Commander, known as ‘Gallant Ossory’. Born at Kilkenny Castle in 1634, his childhood was spent at Kilkenny until he went with his father and brother Richard to England in 1647. They then went to France, where he was educated at Caen and Paris at Monsieur de Camps’ Academy. In Holland he married Amelia of Nassau, daughter of Lodewyk van Nassau, Heer van Beverweerd, a natural son of Prince Maurice of Nassau. He was a witness when James, Duke of York (later King James II) secretly married Anne Hyde in 1660.

Thomas enjoyed the favour and support of both King Charles II and his queen. Because of his wife’s Dutch connections he was frequently sent on royal missions to Holland. In 1670 he conducted William of Orange to England. John Evelyn, the diarist, was a close friend and referred to him as ‘a good natured, generous and perfectly obliging friend’. He died suddenly in 1680, possibly from food poisoning, at Arlington House in London. He was buried in Westminster Abbey

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

James Butler (1665-1745) 2nd Duke of Ormonde [the final ‘e’ was added to the name around this time] was the eldest surviving son of Thomas Butler 6th Earl of Ossory. Following his father’s death in 1680, James became the heir to his grandfather, James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond, whom he succeeded in 1688.

Following his involvement in a Jacobite rising, a Bill of Attainder was passed against the 2nd Duke of Ormonde. His English and Scottish honours and his English estates were seized. Ormonde fled to France. He lived out his life in exile, and died at Avignon in France. Despite this, he was buried in 1746 in Westminster Abbey.

James the 2nd Duke had no son, so the title passed to his brother Charles Butler (1671-1758). He was enabled by an Act of Parliament in 1721 to recover his brother’s forfeited estates, but the dukedom ended with him. He was, however, also the 14th Earl of Ormonde and this title continued. He had no children, however, so the title passed to a cousin.

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

Richard Butler (d. 1701) of Kilcash, County Tipperary was a younger brother of James the 1st Duke of Ormond. There is a castle ruin still in Kilcash, under the protection of the Office of Public Works but not open to the public. His son was Walter Butler of Garryricken (1633-1700). Pictured above are this Walter’s sons Christopher (the Catholic Archbishop) and Thomas (d. 1738).

Walter’s son Thomas (d. 1738) inherited Kilcash from his grandfather Richard Butler (d. 1701) of Kilcash. A Colonel of a Regiment of Foot in the army of King James II, Walter married Margaret Bourke, daughter of William, 7th Earl of Clanricarde, and widow of 5th Viscount Iveagh. It was their son John (d. 1766) who succeeded to the Ormonde titles as 15th Earl of Ormonde in 1758. 

The 15th Earl had no children so the title then passed to a cousin, Walter Butler (1703-1783), another of the Garryricken branch, who also became the 9th Earl of Ossory. He took up residence at Kilkenny Castle. Walter, a Catholic, was unable to exercise a political role. He undertook the restoration of the Castle, decorating some of the rooms with simple late eighteenth century plasterwork, and also built the stable block across the road from the Castle, today the Design Centre and National Craft Centre (also a Section 482 property). He also built the Dower House, now a hotel called Butler House.

He married Eleanor Morres (1711-1793), the daughter of Nicholas Morres of Seapark Court, Co. Dublin, and of Lateragh, Co. Tipperary. After Walter’s death in 1783, she moved  into the Dower House.

Their son John (1740-1795) became known as “Jack of the Castle” and was the 17th Earl. Jack’s sister Susannah married Thomas Kavanagh of Borris House in County Carlow (see my entry about Borris House). Jack married Anne Wandesford, pictured below.

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

Their son Walter (1770-1820) became the 18th Earl and 1st Marquess of Ormonde. He had no sons so his brother James Wandesford Butler (1777-1838) inherited the title of 19th Earl. He became one of the largest landowners in Ireland with an estate worth more than £20,000 a year. He was recreated 1st Marquess of Ormonde in 1825 and officiated as Chief Butler of Ireland at the Coronation of George IV. He married Grace Louisa Staples in 1807, they had ten children.

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

James Wandesford Butler the 19th Earl and 1st Marquess undertook more renovations. Mark Bence-Jones describes:

Ca. 1826, the Kilkenny architect, William Robertson, when walking in the castle courtyard with the Lady Ormonde of the day, noticed that a main wall was out of true and consequently unsafe. One suspects it may have been wishful thinking on his part, for it landed him the commission to rebuild the castle, which he did so thoroughly that virtually nothing remains from before his time except for the three old towers, the outer walls and – fortunately – the 2nd Duke’s gateway. Apart from the latter, the exterior of the castle became uncompromisingly C19 feudal; all the 1st Duke’s charming features being swept away. Robertson also replaced one of two missing sides of the courtyard with a new wing containing an immense picture gallery; the original gallery, on the top floor of the principal range, having been divided into bedrooms. Robertson left the interior of the castle extremely dull, with plain or monotonously ribbed ceilings and unvarying Louis Quinze style chimneypieces.

William Robertson also designed a Section 482 property which I have yet to visit, Lismacue in County Tipperary.

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

The 1st Marquess died in Dublin in 1838 and was succeeded by his eldest son John Butler (1808-1854), 2nd Marquess, 20th Earl of Ormonde, Earl of Ossory and Viscount Thurles, Baron Ormonde of Lanthony, Chief Butler of Ireland (see his portrait below).

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

John the 2nd Marquess travelled extensively. His journals (now in National Library of Ireland) record his many journeys across  Europe to Italy and Sicily. He published an account of his travels, Autumn in Sicily, and he also wrote an account of the life of St. Canice. He married Frances Jane Paget in 1843. He continued the work of rebuilding Kilkenny castle that was started by his father. His journals show him to have a deep interest in art, and there are careful descriptions of several of the great galleries in Italy to be found in his writing. Although he continued to write in his journals during the years 1847 to 1850, no mention of the Irish famine is made. He died while bathing in the sea near Loftus hall on Hook Head, Co. Wexford. A marble tomb was erected in his memory in St. Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny.

The son of the 2nd Marquess, James Edward William Theobald Butler became the 3rd Marquess in 1854. It was during his time that changes were made to the rather plain picture gallery block created by William Robertson. Robertston’s Picture Gallery, in keeping with his work on the rest of the castle, was in a Castellated Baronial style. Initially the gallery was built with a flat roof that had begun to cause problems shortly after its completion. The distinguished architectural firm of Deane and Woodward was called in during the 1860s to make changes to the overall design of the Picture Gallery block, and other corrections to Robertson’s work. These changes included the insertions of four oriels in the west wall and the blocking up of the eight windows, while another oriel added to the east wall.

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

The magnificent Picture Gallery is situated in the east wing of Kilkenny Castle.This stunning space dates from the 19th century and was built primarily to house the Butler Family’s fine collection of paintings.

From the website: “… The entire ceiling was hand painted by John Hungerford Pollen (1820-1902), then Professor of Fine Arts at Newman College, Dublin, using a combination of motifs ranging from the quasi-medieval to the pre-Raphaelite, with interlace, gilded animal and bird heads on the cross beam.

The Marble Fireplace is made of Carrara marble and was designed by J. H. Pollen also in a quasi-medieval style. It was supplied by the firm of Ballyntyne of Dorset Street, Dublin. Foliage carving attributed to Charles Harrison covers the chimneypiece and a frieze beneath is decorated with seven panels, showing the family coat of arms and significant episodes from the family’s long history. Starting on the left, the first panel shows the buying the castle by the first Earl of Ormond in 1391 from the Despenser family – money changing hands is shown. The second panel depicts Theobald Fitzwalter acting as Chief Butler to the newly crowned King of England highlighting their ancient royal privilege and upon which their surname of Butler is based. On the third panel, you see King Richard the Second acting as godfather for one of the infants of the Butler family in 1391. The centrepiece is the family crest which can also be seen over the arch and gateway, with the family motto “comme je trouve”- “as I find”, as well as the heraldic shield guarded, the falcon, the griffin (a legendary creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle) and the ducal coronet. In the fifth panel, the 1st Duke of Ormond can be seen entering the Irish House of Lords still bearing his sword. Indeed, he refused to hand his weapon over as were the protocols in case it was used inside during an argument; this became known as The Act of Defiance. The sixth panel next to this symbolizes the charity of the Butler family showing Lady Ormonde giving alms to the poor. Finally, the sixth and last panel portrays the First Duke of Ormond’s triumphant return to Dublin from exile on the Restoration of Charles the Second in 1662, when he also established the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham and founded the Phoenix Park.”

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

The 3rd Marquess’s brother James Arthur Wellington Foley Butler (1849-1943) became 4th Marquess (and 22nd Earl) of Ormonde in 1919. He was educated at Harrow and joined the army becoming a lieutenant in the 1st Life Guards. He was state steward to the Earl of Carnarvon when Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. In 1887 he married Ellen Stager, daughter of American General Anson Stager.

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

As I mentioned earlier, it was James Arthur Norman Butler (1893-1971), 6th Marquess and 24th Earl of Ormonde, youngest son of James Arthur, 4th Marquess of Ormonde, who in 1967 sold the Castle.

Mark Bence-Jones tells us that the interior was largely redecorated and wood-carvings in the manner of Grinling Gibbons were introduced into some of the family rooms in the South Tower after the castle suffered damage 1922 during the Civil War, when, having been occupied by one side, it was attacked and captured by the other; the Earl of Ossory (afterwards 9th Marquess) and his wife being in residence at the time. In 1935 the Ormondes ceased to live in the castle, which for the next thirty years stood empty and deteriorating. It is now a wonderful place to visit, and has fifty acres of rolling parkland, a terraced rose garden, playground, tearoom and man-made lake, for visitors to enjoy.

5. St. Mary’s Church, Gowran, County Kilkenny:

General information: 056 772 6894, breda.lynch@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

This church was built in the late thirteenth century as a collegiate church and was served by a college – clerics who lived in a community but did not submit to the rule of a monastery. 

The church was patronised by the Butler family and many early family members are commemorated here with elaborate medieval tombs. The impressive ruins were decorated by the Gowran Master whose stone carvings are immortalised in the poetry of Nobel Laureate Séamus Heaney. 

The once medieval church was later partly reconstructed in the early 19th century and functioned as a Church of Ireland church until the 1970’s when it was gifted to the State as a National Monument. Today the restored part of the church preserves a collection of monuments dating from the 5th to the 20th centuries.

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

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

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

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

[5] p. 167. Bence-Jones, Mark. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.

Places to visit and stay in County Dublin

On the map above:

blue: places to visit that are not section 482

purple: section 482 properties

red: accommodation

yellow: less expensive accommodation for two

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

green: gardens to visit

grey: ruins

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

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

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

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

€€€ – over €250 per night for two.

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

Dublin City and County

See my entry Covid-19 lockdown, 20km limits, and places to visit in Dublin:

irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

1. Airfield, Dundrum, Dublin

2. Aras an Uachtarain, Phoenix Park, Dublin – OPW

3. Ardgillan Castle, Dublin

4. Ashtown Castle, Phoenix Park, Dublin – OPW

5. Bewley’s, 78-79 Grafton Street/234 Johnson’s Court, Dublin 2 – section 482

6. Cabinteely House [formerly Clare Hill, or Marlfield], Cabinteely, Dublin 

7. The Casino at Marino, Dublin – OPW

8. Charlemount House, Parnell Square, Dublin – Hugh Lane gallery

9. Clonskeagh Castle, 80 Whitebean Road, Clonskeagh, Dublin 14 – section 482

10. Colganstown House, Hazelhatch Road, Newcastle, Co. Dublin – section 482

11. Corke Lodge Garden, Shankill, Co. Dublin – section 482

12. Dalkey Castle, Dublin – heritage centre 

13. Doheny & Nesbitt, 4/5 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2 – section 482

14. Drimnagh Castle, Dublin

15. Dublin Castle, Dublin – OPW

16. Fahanmura, 2 Knocksina, Foxrock, Dublin 18 – section 482

17. Farm Complex, Toberburr Road, Killeek, St Margaret’s, Co. Dublin – section 482

18. Farmleigh, Phoenix Park, Dublin – OPW

19. Fern Hill, Stepaside, Dublin – gardens open to public

20. Georgian House Museum, 29 Lower Fitzwilliam Street, Merrion Square, Dublin 2 – virtual visit only

21. “Geragh”, Sandycove Point, Sandycove, Co. Dublin – section 482

22. 14 Henrietta Street, Dublin

23. Hibernian/National Irish Bank, 23-27 College Green, Dublin 2 – section 482

24. Howth Castle gardens, Dublin

25. Howth Martello Tower Hurdy Gurdy Radio Museum

26. Knocknagin House, Delvin Bridge, Balbriggan, Co. Dublin – section 482

27. Lambay Castle, Lambay Island, Malahide, Co. Dublin – section 482

28. Lissen Hall, County Dublin – ihh member, check dates, May and June.

29. Malahide Castle, County Dublin

30. Marlay Park, Rathfarnham, County Dublin

31. Martello Tower, Portrane, Co. Dublin – section 482

32. Meander, Westminister Road, Foxrock, Dublin 18 – section 482

33. Irish Architectural Archive, 45 Merrion Square, Dublin

34. MOLI, Museum of Literature Ireland, Newman House, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin

35. Newbridge House, Donabate, County Dublin

36. 11 North Great George’s Street, Dublin 1 – section 482

37. 81 North King Street, Smithfield, Dublin 7 – section 482

38. The Odeon (formerly the Old Harcourt Street Railway Station), 57 Harcourt Street, Dublin 2section 482

39. The Old Glebe, Upper Main Street, Newcastle, Co. Dublin – section 482

40. Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, 59 South William Street, Dublin 2 – section 482

41. Primrose Hill, Very Top of Primrose Lane, Lucan, Co. Dublin – section 482

42. Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin – OPW

43. Royal Hospital Kilmainham (Irish Museum of Modern Art, IMMA) – OPW

44. 10 South Frederick Street, Dublin 2 – Section 482

45. St. Enda’s Park and Pearse Museum, Dublin – OPW

46. St. George’s, St. George’s Avenue, Killiney, Co. Dublin – section 482

47. Swords Castle, Swords, County Dublin.

48. The Church, Junction of Mary’s Street/Jervis Street, Dublin 1 – section 482

49. Tibradden House, Mutton Lane, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16 – section 482

Places to stay, County Dubin:

1. Clontarf Castle, Clontarf, Co Dublin – hotel

2. Finnstown, Lucan, Co Dublin – hotel

3. Harrington Hall, 70 Harcourt St, Saint Peter’s, Dublin 2, D02 HP46

4. Killiney Castle, Killiney, Co Dublin  – Fitzpatrick’s hotel

5. Kilronan Guesthouse, 70 Adelaide Road, Dublin 2

6. Lambay Castle, Lambay Island, Rush, Dublin 

7. Martello Tower, Sutton, Dublin – whole house rental

8. The Merchant House, Temple Bar

9. Merrion Hotel (formerly Mornington House), Merrion Street, Dublin – €€€

10. Merrion Mews, Merrion Square, Dublin € for 5-6

11. Mooreen House, Newlands Cross, Dublin (built 1936) 

12. Number 31, Leeson Close, Dublin 2, D02 CP70

13. Number 11 North Great Georges Street

14. St. Helen’s, Booterstown, Co Dublin – now Radisson Blu Stillorgan hotel 

15. The Cottage, Kiltiernan, Dublin €

16. Tibradden Farm Cottages, Rathfarmham, Dublin 16 € for 4-8

17. Waterloo House, Waterloo Road, Dublin 4 €€

18. The Wilder Townhouse, Dublin 2

Whole House Rental, Dublin:

1. Dalkey Lodge, Barnhill Road, Dalkey, County Dublin – whole house rental

2. Dartry House, Orwell Woods, Dartry, Rathgar, Dublin 6 – whole house rental

3. Luttrellstown Castle, (known for a period as Woodlands), Clonsilla, Co Dublin – whole house? wedding venue

4. Orlagh House, Dublin – whole house rental

Dublin City and County

1. Airfield, Dundrum, Dublin 

https://www.airfield.ie

Situated:
Overend Way, Dundrum, D14 EE77

Access:
Car
Luas
Bike

Open: Wednesday to Sunday September – June | 9:30 am – 5 pm (last entry 4 pm)
7 days a week July & August | 9:30 am – 6 pm (last entry 5 pm)

Admission:

  • Adult €12
  • Senior/ Student/ Youth (18-25) €9
  • Children (Under 18) €6.50
  • Carers & 3 or under FREE

Guided Tour:
Group bookings five days a week by prior arrangement.

Instagram@airfieldgardens

20190410_123353
Airfield House, Dublin, April 2019.

See my entry irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

Original home to the Overend family, today Airfield House is an interactive tour and exhibition which brings visitors closer to this admired Dublin family. Here you’ll view family photographs, letters, original clothing and display cases with information on their prize-winning Jersey herd, vintage cars and their much loved Victorian toys and books.

We focus not just on the way of life the family lived at Airfield, but also on their fantastic charitable work for organisations such as St John Ambulance and The Children’s Sunshine Home (now The Laura Lynn Foundation) to name but a few. 

Every Wednesday through to Sunday at 11.30am and then again at 2.30pm we offer visitors guided house tours.

2. Aras an Uachtarain, Phoenix Park, Dublin – OPW

see my OPW entry https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/21/office-of-public-works-properties-dublin/

3. Ardgillan Castle, Balbriggan, Dublin

see my entry https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/10/15/places-to-visit-in-dublin-ardgillan-castle-balbriggan-county-dublin/

4. Ashtown Castle, Phoenix Park, Dublin – OPW

see my OPW entry https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/21/office-of-public-works-properties-dublin/

5. Bewley’s, 78-79 Grafton Street/234 Johnson’s Court, Dublin 2 – section 482

Harry Clarke window, Bewleys Grafton Street.

Contact: Peter O’ Callaghan
Tel 087-7179367
www.bewleys.com
Open: all year except Christmas Day, 9am-5pm Fee: Free

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

6. Cabinteely House [formerly Clare Hill, or Marlfield], Cabinteely, Dublin https://www.dlrcoco.ie/en/heritage/heritage

There’s a terrific online tour, at https://www.dlrcoco.ie/en/heritage/3d-online-tours-–-heritage-home

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

7. The Casino at Marino, Dublin – OPW

see my OPW entry https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/21/office-of-public-works-properties-dublin/

8. Charlemount House, Parnell Square, Dublin – Hugh Lane gallery

 https://www.hughlane.ie

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

9. Clonskeagh Castle, 80 Whitebean Road, Clonskeagh, Dublin 14 – section 482

contact: Frank Armstrong
Tel: 089-4091645, 087-9787357 

www.clonskeaghcastle.com

Open: Jan 6-9, Feb 6-9, Mar 6-9, Apr 6-9, May 1-8, June 1-8, July 1-8, August 13-22, Sept 1-8, Nov 6-9, 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult/OAP €5, child/student €2.50

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

10. Colganstown House, Hazelhatch Road, Newcastle, Co. Dublin – section 482

Colganstown House, central block main house, and wing on the left hand side of the house, with flanking wall in between containing an arch.

See my write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/05/21/colganstown-house-hazelhatch-road-newcastle-county-dublin/
contact: Lynne Savage Jones
Tel: 087-2206222
Open: Apr 11-17, May 5-27, June 9-11, Aug 13-26, Oct 31, Nov 1-12, 9am-1pm Fee: adult/OAP €10, student/child free.

11. Corke Lodge Garden, Shankill, Co. Dublin – section 482

Postal address Woodbrook, Bray, Co. Wicklow
contact: Alfred Cochrane
Tel: 087-2447006
www.corkelodge.com
Open: June 21-Sept 8, Tue-Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 13-21, 9am-1pm Fee: €8

The house was built in the 1820’s to designs by William Farrell as an Italianate seaside villa. A Mediterranean grove was planted with a Cork tree as its centrepiece. In the remains of this romantic wilderness, the present owner, architect Alfred Cochrane, designed a garden punctuated by a collection of architectural follies salvaged from the demolition of Glendalough House, an 1830’s Tudor revival mansion, built for the Barton family by Daniel Robertson who designed Powerscourt Gardens.”

“There is more fun at Corke Lodge” writes Jane Powers, The Irish Times, where ” the ‘ancient garden’ of box parterres is punctuated by melancholy gothic follies, and emerges eerily from the dense boskage of evergreen oaks, myrtles, and a writhing cork oak tree with deeply corrugated bark. Avenues of cordyline palms and tree ferns, dense planting of sword-leaved New Zealand flax, and clumps of whispering bamboos lend a magical atmosphere to this rampantly imaginative creation.”

12. Dalkey Castle, Dublin – heritage centre https://www.dalkeycastle.com

Believe it or not, I did my Leaving Certificate examinations in this building!! I was extremely lucky and I loved it and the great atmosphere helped me to get the points/grades I wanted!

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

13. Doheny & Nesbitt, 4/5 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2 – section 482

contact: Niall Courtney
Tel: 086-0647083, 01-4925395 

www.dohenyandnesbitts.ie

Open: all year, except Christmas Day, Jan, 9am-8pm, Feb-Dec, Mon-Wed, 10am- 11.30pm, Thurs-Sat, 10am-1.30am, Sun, 11am-11.30pm
Fee: Free

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

14. Drimnagh Castle, Dublin

 https://www.drimnaghcastle.org

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

15. Dublin Castle, Dublin – OPW

Dublin Castle.

see my OPW entry https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/21/office-of-public-works-properties-dublin/

16. Fahanmura, 2 Knocksina, Foxrock, Dublin 18 – section 482

contact: Paul Harvey
Tel: Paul 086-3694379
www.fahanmura.ie
Open: May 5-15, June 13-19, July 4-12, Aug 13-25, Sept 10-24, Oct 10-14, 9am-1pm Fee: adult €5, student €2, OAP/child free

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

17. Farm Complex, Toberburr Road, Killeek, St Margaret’s, Co. Dublin – section 482

contact: David Doran
Tel: 086-3821304
OpenJan 1-10, 15-16, 22-23, 29-30, 12 noon 4pm, May 1-8, 14-15, June 4-13, Mon- Fri, 10am-2pm, Sat-Sun, 2pm-6pm, Aug 12-21, 2pm-6pm, Sept 16-25, Mon- Fri, 9.30-1.30pm, Sat-Sun, 2pm-6pm, Oct 22, 29-31, 12 noon-4pm

Fee: adult €6, student/OAP/child €5

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

18. Farmleigh, Phoenix Park, Dublin – OPW

Farmleigh, Dublin.

see my OPW entry. https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/21/office-of-public-works-properties-dublin/

19. Georgian House Museum, 29 Lower Fitzwilliam Street, Merrion Square, Dublin 2 – virtual visit only

http://www.numbertwentynine.ie

20. “Geragh”, Sandycove Point, Sandycove, Co. Dublin – section 482

contact: Gráinne Casey
Tel: 01-2804884
Open: Jan 4-23, May 3-29, Aug 13-21, Sept 1, 12-14, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult €7, OAP/student €4, child free

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

21. 14 Henrietta Street, Dublin – tenement museum https://14henriettastreet.ie

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

22. Hibernian/National Irish Bank, 23-27 College Green, Dublin 2 – section 482

contact: Dan O’Sullivan
Tel: 01-6755100
www.clarendonproperties.ie
Open: all year, except Dec 25, Wed-Fri, 9.30am-8pm, Sun, 11am-7pm, Sat, Mon, Tue, 9.30-7pm

Fee: Free

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

23. Howth Castle gardens, Dublin

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

Howth Castle, Dublin City Library and Archives. [2]

24. Howth Martello Tower Hurdy Gurdy Radio Museum

https://sites.google.com/site/hurdygurdymuseum/home 

25. Knocknagin House, Delvin Bridge, Balbriggan, Co. Dublin – section 482

contact: Richard Berney
Tel: 087-2847797
Open: June 23-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-21, 9am-1pm Fee: adult/OAP/child/student €5

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

26. Lambay Castle, Lambay Island, Malahide, Co. Dublin – section 482

contact: Alexander Baring
Tel: 087-1905236 

www.lambayisland.ie
(Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: May-October

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

27. Lissen Hall, County Dublin – ihh member, check dates, May and June.

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

28. Malahide Castle, County Dublin

Malahide Castle 1976, Dublin City Library and Archives. (see [2])

maintained by Shannon Heritage.

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

29. Marlay Park, Rathfarnham, County Dublin

https://www.dlrcoco.ie/en/heritage/heritage

and online tour https://www.dlrcoco.ie/en/heritage/3d-online-tours-–-heritage-home

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

30. Martello Tower, Portrane, Co. Dublin – section 482

contact: Terry Prone
Tel: 01-6449700
Open: March 6-Sept 26, Sat & Sun and National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult €5, student €4, OAP €1

see my entry https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/07/29/martello-tower-portrane-co-dublin/

31. Meander, Westminister Road, Foxrock, Dublin 18 – section 482

contact: Ruth O’Herlihy,
Tel: 087-2163623
Open: Jan 3-7, 10-14, 17-21, 24-28, May 3-7, 12-14, 16-21, June 7-11, 13-18, 20-25, Aug 13-21, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €5, OAP/child/student €2

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

32. Irish Architectural Archive, 45 Merrion Square, Dublin

 www.iarc.ie

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

33. MOLI, Museum of Literature Ireland, Newman House, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin

https://moli.ie

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

Rococo stucco work in Museum of Literature of Ireland (MOLI), Newman House, Stephen’s Green, Dublin.

34. Newbridge House, Donabate, County Dublin

Peacock at Newbridge House, Donabate.

which is maintained by Shannon Heritage

https://www.newbridgehouseandfarm.com

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

35. 11 North Great George’s Street, Dublin 1 – section 482

see my write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2019/12/31/11-north-great-georges-street-dublin-1/
contact: John Aboud
Tel: 087-7983099
www.number11dublin.ie
Open: March 7-11, 21-25, May 10-14, June 6-11, July 4-9, Aug 1-6, 13-22, Sept 5-11, Oct 3-7, 17-21, 12 noon-4 pm
Fee: adult €7, students/OAP €3, child free under 12 years

36. 81 North King Street, Smithfield, Dublin 7 – section 482

contact: James Kelly
Tel: 086-8597275
Open: Apr 1-30, June 1-30, July 1-30, National Heritage Week 13-21 Aug, closed Sundays except Aug 14 & 21, Mon-Fri, 9am-4.30, Sat, 12.30pm-4.30pm

Fee: Free 

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

37. The Odeon (formerly the Old Harcourt Street Railway Station), 57 Harcourt Street, Dublin 2section 482

The Odeon, Dublin, April 2020.

contact: Mary Lacey
Tel: 01-6727690
www.odeon.ie
Open: March-December, 12 noon to midnight Fee: Free

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

38. The Old Glebe, Upper Main Street, Newcastle, Co. Dublin – section 482

The Old Glebe, Newcastle Lyons, County Dublin.

See my write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2019/12/31/the-old-glebe-newcastle-lyons-county-dublin/
contact: Hugh F. Kerins, Martin Connelly
Tel: Frank 087-2588356, and Martin 087-6686996
Open: May 3-31, June 1-30, Mon-Sat, Aug 13-22, 10am-2pm, 4 tours daily during National Heritage Week, 10am, 11am, 12 noon, 1pm, tour approx. 45 minutes
Fee: adult €5, student €3, child/OAP free, no charge during National Heritage Week

39. Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, 59 South William Street, Dublin 2 – section 482

Powerscourt townhouse, Dublin.

see my write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/04/02/powerscourt-townhouse-59-south-william-street-dublin-2/
contact: Mary Larkin
Tel: 01-6717000, 01-6755100
https://www.powerscourtcentre.ie/
Open: All year except New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, Christmas Day, St. Stephen’s Day & Bank Holidays, Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm, Thurs, 10am-8pm, Sundays, 12 noon-6pm
Fee: Free

40. Primrose Hill, Very Top of Primrose Lane, Lucan, Co. Dublin – section 482

contact: Robin Hall
Tel: 01-6280373
Open: Feb 1-28, June 1-30, July 1, Aug 13-21, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult/OAP €6, child free

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

41. Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin – OPW

Ceiling at Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin.

see my OPW entry. https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/21/office-of-public-works-properties-dublin/

42. Royal Hospital Kilmainham (Irish Museum of Modern Art, IMMA) – OPW

see my OPW entry. https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/21/office-of-public-works-properties-dublin/

43. 10 South Frederick Street, Dublin 2 – Section 482

contact: Joe Hogan
Tel: 087-2430334
Open: Jan 1-20, May 1-21, 23-27, 30-31, June 1-3, Aug 13-21, 2pm-6pm Fee: Free

44. St. Enda’s Park and Pearse Museum, Dublin – OPW

see my OPW entry https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/21/office-of-public-works-properties-dublin/

45. St. George’s, St. George’s Avenue, Killiney, Co. Dublin – section 482

contact: Robert McQuillan
Tel: 087-2567718
Open: July 1-31, Aug 1-31, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult €5, OAP/student/child €3.50

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

46. Swords Castle, Swords, County Dublin.

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

47. The Church, Junction of Mary’s Street/Jervis Street, Dublin 1 – section 482

contact: Ann French
Tel: 087-2245726
www.thechurch.ie
Open: Jan 1-Dec 23, 27-31, 12 noon-11pm Fee: Free

See my entry https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/11/09/the-church-junction-of-marys-street-jervis-street-dublin/

48. Tibradden House, Mutton Lane, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16 – section 482

contact: Selina Guinness
Tel: 01-4957483
www.selinaguinness.com
Open: Jan 6-10, 14, 17, 21, 24, 28, Feb 4, 7, 11, 14, 28, Mar 7, 11, 14, 25, 28, May 3-6, 10-13, 17-22, 24-29, June 8-11, 13, 17-19, 21-23, Aug 13-21, Jan, May, June, 10am-2pm, Feb, Mar, 2.30pm-6.30pm, National Heritage Week, 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult/OAP €8 student/child free, Members of An Taisce and The Irish Georgian Society €6

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin: irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/06/covid-19-lockdown-20km-limits-and-places-to-visit-in-dublin/

49. Tyrrelstown House Garden, Powerstown Road, Tyrrelstown, Dublin, D15 T6DD – gardens open

www.tyrrelstownhouse.ie 

Open days 3rd Friday & Sat of months Feb – October 

Tyrrelstown House & Garden is set in 10 hactre of parkland in Fingal, North County Dublin, just minutes from the M50, off the N3 (Navan Road). There are 2 walled gardens, and an arboretum with woodland walks including 2 hectares of wild flower & pictorial meadows. Lots of spring bulbs and cyclamen adorn this lovely sylvan setting.

The walled gardens are over 600 years old and include a wide range of alkaline and acid loving plants and shrubs and include an organic vegetable garden.

The Wilkinson family arrived here in 1895 & have been farming the land ever since.

Places to stay, County Dublin:

1. Clontarf Castle, Clontarf, Co Dublin – hotel

https://www.clontarfcastle.ie/clontarf-castle-story

Clontarf Castle (image reversed) 1954, photograph from National LIbrary and Archives. (see [2])

The website tells us that the word “clontarf” means “meadow of the bull” and that the sound of the waves on the shore sounded like the bellowing of a bull. The National Inventory describes the castle:

Detached country house, built 1836-7, comprising square-plan single-bay four-stage pastiche tower house with curved corners to east end with taller tower to rear (north) of this, both with battered bases, and having complex-plan gabled four-bay two and three-storey Tudor Revival house attached to west end, having two-bay porch and two-storey canted-bay windows with crenellations to front elevation, gabled breakfront and canted-bay window with crenellations to west elevation, extensive recent extensions to rear (north) and east elevations. Now in use as hotel.” [3]

The summary appraisal of the castle tells us:

William Vitruvius Morrison was commissioned by J.E.V. Vernon to rehabilitate Clontarf Castle in 1835. The original castle was built by the Knights Templar and added to over several centuries by the Vernon family, who were granted land in Clontarf, having arrived with Cromwell in 1649. The castle was demolished and rebuilt in its entirety in 1836-7. It was designed in the Gothic Revival style and uses the architectural vocabulary of medieval castle architecture to impress the viewer and to refer to the medieval origins of Clontarf Castle. The numerous gables and the two towers create a number of interesting viewing angles, and were purposely designed to imitate a building gradually developed over centuries, with a pastiche medieval tower house contrasting with the more domestically scaled house block to the west. It was notable at the time for its visibility from the surrounding area. The well carved stonework is testament to the craftwork of nineteenth-century stonemasons. It retains richly decorative interior features, including joinery and plasterwork ceilings.”

The National Inventory entry continues the description: “Crenellated parapets with corner turrets and machicolations to tower, with pitched natural slate roofs to house having carved limestone copings and finials to raised barges, carved limestone octagonal-plan chimneystacks, and cast-iron rainwater goods. Snecked cut limestone walls to towers and ashlar limestone walls to house, with carved limestone stringcourses, painted carved shields to gables, carved Portland stone shield and date-stone to porch. Round-headed loops to towers and round-headed window openings to front tower, some paired, having carved limestone surrounds with chevron motif and leaded windows. Tudor-arch window openings to bay windows to house, having carved limestone surrounds, transoms and mullions, and leaded lights. Square-headed and Tudor-arch window openings with carved limestone label-mouldings, and timber cinquefoil and Tudor-arch leaded lights. Round-headed tripartite window openings under shared carved limestone label-moulding to porch, having leaded lights. Pointed arch door opening to porch, having carved limestone roll mouldings to surround, flanked by octagonal-plan piers with richly carved Portland stone capitals, double-leaf timber doors. Tudor-arch door opening to west elevation of house, having chamfered reveals and timber panelled door. Recent square-headed door opening to west elevation, with double-leaf timber doors. Round-headed door opening to west elevation of rear tower, having carved limestone surround. Retains extensive interior features, including plasterwork ceilings, timber wainscoting and joinery, fireplaces and encaustic tiled floors. Set in own grounds with carpark to front, entrance from south from tree-lined approach, from Castle Avenue.”

2. Finnstown, Lucan, Co Dublin – hotel – Closing December 6th 2022.

https://www.finnstowncastlehotel.com

Finnstown, photograph courtesy of finnstowncastlehotel.com

The website does not tell us about the history. The National Inventory describes the house:

Detached seven-bay two-storey over basement Victorian former country house, c.1865, now in use as a hotel. Timber sash windows in segmental-arched openings with moulded dressings, decorative keystone and bracketed stone sills. Two-storey central breakfront with projecting flat-roofed porch having parapet. Timber panelled door with fanlight and flanking windows, all with round-headed dressed arches with prominent keystones. Smooth rendered walls with raised quoins and moulded string and eaves courses. Three-sided two-storey projecting bay on north-west elevation with doorway leading to ornamental foot bridge over basement access.” [4]

Finnstown, photograph courtesy of finnstowncastlehotel.com
Finnstown, photograph courtesy of finnstowncastlehotel.com
Finnstown, photograph courtesy of finnstowncastlehotel.com
Finnstown, photograph courtesy of finnstowncastlehotel.com

3. Harrington Hall, 70 Harcourt St, Saint Peter’s, Dublin 2, D02 HP46

https://www.harringtonhall.com  

Boutique accommodation. The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us it is a terraced double-pile three-bay four-storey over basement former townhouse, built c. 1800. It has round-headed door opening with brick voussoirs, engaged Ionic columns and pilasters supporting a fluted frieze with paterae and cornice, spoked fanlight with fluted surround and ribbed coving with raised lettering ‘HARRINGTON HALL’. Inside it has decorative plasterwork cornice and ceiling in the entrance hall.

The National Inventory tells us further:

Though altered for use as a hotel, this former townhouse positively contributes to the historic character of the street, which is dominated by late-Georgian and early-Victorian townhouses. The restrained façade is enriched with balconettes and most notably, a Neo-classical doorcase featuring a decorative fanlight embellished by ribbed coving and further complemented by decorative sidelights. The doorcase glazing allows additional light into the entrance hall, highlighting the delicate plasterwork ceiling. Harcourt Street was opened 1777 by John Hatch, barrister and Seneschal of the Manor of St. Sepulchre. Development was sporadic until the late 1790s when Messrs Hatch, Wade and Whitten obtained approval from the Wide Street Commissioners for the further development of the street.

4. Killiney Castle, Killiney, Co Dublin  – Fitzpatrick’s hotel

https://www.fitzpatrickcastle.com

Welcome to Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel Dublin. Our 18th century 4 star luxury castle hotel is located near the historic village of Dalkey and the coastal town of Dun Laoghaire & only minutes from Killiney Beach, nestled next to Killiney Hill, with panoramic views over Dublin Bay and beyond. The Family owned & run Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, now in its third generation offers guests tranquility, breathtaking scenery and old world elegance which blends seamlessly with the hotels modern luxury making it the ideal location for business or pleasure.

Archiseek tells us:

This house has been alternatively known as Mount Malpas, Roxborough and Loftus Hill. The first house on the site was built about 1740 for Col. John Mapas or Malpas. The property was owned in turn by a Mr. Maunsell, Henry Loftus, Viscount of Ely, Lord Clonmel and Robert Warren, who in 1840 enlarged the house and called it Killiney Castle. He also restored and added to the monuments on the hill.

The Georgian house was given Gothic decoration and remodelled by Sandham Symes, including castellation, corner turrets, another pair of turrets in the centre, and a Gothic porch. Later the arrangement of the centre was altered to create a canted bow a storey higher than the rest of the front and with a conical roof. Now garishly painted, and forms the centrepiece of a hotel complex dating from the 1970s.”

The Castle website tells us:

The Colonel’s [Colonel Henry Loftus 1st Earl of Ely] stay was a short one; in 1772 he advertised the castle and its 150 acres for sale despite his short tenure. During his time in residence however, Colonel Loftus and his nephew converted the barren stoney soil to meadow and pasture and cut a road around the hill, his successor was Lord Clonmel [John Henry Scott, 1st Earl of Clonmell] who in 1790 improved the estate further spending £3,000 in the process, a handsome sum of money in the early 19th century. 

The name Robert Warren is very much associated with the Castle and it was he who in 1840 enlarged the house and called it Killiney Castle. He also restored and added to the monuments on the hill, repairing the obelisk originally erected by Col. Mapas and donated land and most of the money for the building of Killiney parish church. The land on the hill – once part of the estate – was purchased from his son, Robert Warren Jnr. by Queen Victoria’s jubilee memorial association and subsequently re-named Victoria Hill – as we still know it today. 

Its subsequent owners included a Mrs Chippendale Higgan. The trees and shrubs she planted can still be seen today and provide a decorative setting for the castle. 

In the 20th Century Killiney Castle was used by the Black & Tans, the IRA and the Republicans in the civil war before being burnt by Free State Troops. It was requisitioned by the Government during the 1939-45 period and used as billets for the army 

Killiney Castle exchanged hands again with the late Paddy and Eithne Fitzpatrick taking over the helm in the 1970’s, transforming it into a first class hotel and re-naming it Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel. Today their daughter Eithne Fitzpatrick Scott-Lennon owns the hotel and together with her family continues to guide the way to its continued success, whilst maintaining the original Castle charm and Irish welcome long associated with the Castle.

 5. Kilronan Guesthouse, 70 Adelaide Road, Dublin 2

https://www.kilronanhouse.com

Built in the 1850’s Kilronan House is one of the last remaining examples of this type of architecture that remains in Dublin City Centre today.

6. Lambay Castle, Lambay Island, Rush, Dublin  

Lambay Castle, Lambay Island, Malahide, Co. Dublin – section 482
Alexander Baring
Tel: 087-1905236 

www.lambayisland.ie
(Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: May-October

In the castle: The Lutyens Guest Wing was added in 1908-1910.  Referred to as one of Lutyens’ finest examples of domestic architecture, the two sections of Lambay Castle complement each other perfectly and are seamlessly, almost invisibly, connected by a long central corridor that runs beneath the East Terrace.

The Whitehouse was completed in 1933 for Rupert Baring’s two sisters Daphne and Calypso (daughters of Cecil and Maude) and their large families.  It was the final Baring-Lutyens architectural addition to the island and Cecil died just one year after its completion. 

The Whitehouse may be booked by private groups subject to the prior approval of Lambay Estate.  As a house of historical value, as well as personal importance to the family, it is not well suited as a party venue or for groups with many young children.  Please email bookings@lambayisland.ie for enquiries.

O’Connell’s Cottage (No.6) is at the end of the row of Coastguard Cottages, which dates back to the 17th Century.  Originally two cottages, it was merged into one large home for the estate manager and his family of eight, and has kept his name ever since. 

7. Martello Tower, Sutton, Dublin

https://martellotowersutton.com

Stephen and I visited the Martello tower at Portrane, which is a section 482 home. See my write-up: https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/07/29/martello-tower-portrane-co-dublin/

The website for the Sutton Martello tower tells us: “Martello Tower Sutton offers self-catering accommodation with a difference. This unique historic building is available for rental as a holiday home, a short-term letting, or even corporate letting.

Built-in 1804, Martello Tower Sutton is located on the north coastline of Dublin Bay, Ireland, with breathtaking views of the bay and surrounding areas. Set in Red Rock, Sutton, the Tower has been refurbished to a high standard and offers guests a truly unique self-catering holiday option.

Accommodation consists of three levels: two bedrooms and a bathroom on the lower level; living area and balcony overlooking the bay on the middle level; and a modern kitchen/dining room offering breathtaking 360° views from roof level.

The website gives the history:

Fear of an invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte reached panic proportions among the authorities in Ireland and England in 1804 and was the reason Martello Towers were built, first in Ireland and then in England. Their purpose was to provide what were, in those days, ‘bombproof’ towers from which fire could be directed at ships of the hourly expected French invasion fleet. Martello Tower Sutton was the first Tower to be built in Dublin and is referred to in the annals as Tower No. 1.

The name “Martello” derived from the name of a tower at Mortella point in the gulf of Fiorenzo. The Royalist French along with the Royal Navy, failed to take the tower after attempting to rebel against the Napoleonic French in 1794. So impressed were the British by the strength of the tower, they suggested that similar towers would be useful in Ireland and England...

The original Towers from the Napoleonic era are circular in shape, with 2-4 meter thick walls, which were made from solid stone that was all sourced locally. The entrance doorway of the towers are three metres from the ground which meant at the time access to the entrance was only made by a ladder.  The ladder then could be removed to protect against an invader.

The Towers never fired a cannon in anger, as Napoleon never invaded Ireland or England. However, it is believed that the Towers acted as a deterrent, as Napoleon had every intention to invade England using Ireland as a “back door” bridgehead.

In total there were 50 Martello Towers built in Ireland, and 103 built in England.  The Military numbered the towers for easy reference. Towers were also built in South Africa, Majorca and the whole Mediterranean area but most are not Martello Towers, but rather defence towers against pirates.

The function and purpose of the Towers in Ireland today differs from one to another. In Dublin while there are 21 Towers that remain standing many are derelict, some demolished, some are owned by government departments, and others are privately owned, some of which are habited and some uninhabited.”

8. The Merchant House, Temple Bar, Dublin

https://www.themerchanthouse.eu/location

The website tells us that it was built in 1720, then restored in 2005. Each suite has a large, stylish bathroom and soundproofed windows. Archiseek tells us that the Merchant Hall building was built in 1821 by Frederick Darley – I’m not sure if the hotel is located in this building. Merchant Hall was built as a Guild Hall.

9. Merrion Hotel (formerly Mornington House), Merrion Street, Dublin –  €€€

https://www.merrionhotel.com

The Merrion Hotel by Tony Pleavin, 2018, Ireland’s Content Pool [5]
The Merrion Hotel, photograph by Jeremy Hylton.

From the website: “The Merrion is one of the most significant restoration projects which has taken place in Dublin over recent years. The Georgian architecture lends itself perfectly to the needs of a hotel: the elegantly simple and dignified exterior of the houses give presence and a wonderful sense of arrival, to The Merrion. Mornington House has transitional interiors of great magnificence which provide an exciting backdrop for the activities of the hotel and its guests. These four important Listed houses have been sympathetically restored and brought back to life to be enjoyed by people from all over the world.” Peter MacCann, General Manager, The Merrion

Front Hall the Merrion Hotel, courtesy of Merrion Hotel, 2018, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [1])

The Main House of the hotel is comprised of four meticulously restored Grade I Listed Georgian townhouses and a specially commissioned contemporary Garden Wing is arranged around two private period gardens. The houses were built in the 1760’s by Lord Monck (Charles Stanley Monck) for wealthy Irish merchants and nobility. He lived in No. 22, which became known as Monck House. The most important of the four houses is, however, No. 24 Upper Merrion Street. This was leased to Garrett Wellesley, Earl of Mornington, in 1769, it has since been known as Mornington House. The house is remembered historically as being the birthplace of Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington. All four houses had been in use as state offices for most of this century. The well-known Irish writer, Flan O’Brien,(also known as Myles na Gopaleen) author of “The Third Policeman,” allegedly worked in the buildings when he worked for the government.

The four houses forming the Main House of The Merrion are typical of domestic Georgian architecture in Ireland. The plain exteriors rely for effect on the carefully worked out classical proportions of the timber sash windows and their relation to the whole façade. The door cases, with their varied treatment and intricate beautiful fanlights, were where the builder could impose some individuality on the building.

The Merrion Hotel drawing room 2018, care of the Merrion Hotel, Failte Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [1])

In most other areas, the normal lease laid down strict requirements. Internally, there were no such restrictions. This explains the wealth of varied plasterwork and woodwork contained in the houses. The architectural detail of the houses clearly indicates the progression of their construction. No. 21 has intricate rococo plasterwork and a particularly heavy staircase. The detail lightens as one progresses along the terrace, although No. 22, the first to be built, is an exception. Here the main stair hall and the principal reception rooms have much lighter detailing, in the neo-classical, Adam style. In the midst of this lighter decoration, there are examples of heavier detail, such as the intricate Corinthian cornice in the stairwell, and the superb third floor room with coved ceilings and dramatic rococo plasterwork. Monck House was “modernised” in the late 18th century or the beginning of the 19th century.

No. 23 was also “modernised” thirty or forty years after completion. The reception rooms in particular changed after 1790 when the windows were enlarged, window boxes and shutters modified and connections made to the front room. The removal of the principal stairs and hall inside the front door may have been done later in order to increase the number of rooms in the house. Since all four houses are Grade 1 Listed, immense care was taken before work began on the site. Planning Permission was granted after two years, with the Architect dealing with all relevant bodies including An Taisce (The Irish National Trust). Work eventually started in October 1995. The Merrion comprises 123 rooms and 19 suites. The interior is designed using Irish fabrics and antiques to reflect the architecture and original interiors of the Main House. Throughout the hotel guests benefit from the latest technology. There is a choice of two restaurants and two bars. A luxurious Spa and swimming pool, six magnificent meeting and private dining rooms, and a private car park.

10. Merrion Mews, Merrion Square, Dublin € for 5-6

https://www.irishlandmark.com/property/merrion-mews/

11. Mooreen House, Newlands Cross, Dublin (built 1936) 

http://www.mooreen.ie npnewlands@gmail.com 

The website tells us: “In 1932, in America, the present owner’s parents purchased plans for use in building their new home, Mooreen House. The design was already famous and had been awarded the title House of the Year, and a full-scale replica was constructed in Macy’s New York Department Store.

While intended for 20th century living the interior cleverly combines the grandeur of former times with a modern economy of space, all in authentic Art Deco taste. Today this is reflected by the original contents which combine with the building to form a family home of considerable elegance and charm. The house, with a newly built cottage using all the latest insulation techniques for additional guests, is set in 20 acres of beautifully maintained private gardens and woodlands. The owner can justly claim her place in Ireland’s history since her grandfather, The O’Rahilly, was one of the few 1916 leaders killed in the fighting near the GPO.”

12. Number 31, Leeson Close, Dublin 2, D02 CP70 €€

https://www.number31.ie

The website describes it:

Number 31 is Dublin’s premier tucked away place to stay, combining a period Georgian townhouse and a light filled modernist mews, once home to famed architect Sam Stephenson and the epicentre of social Dublin in the 1960s and 70s.

The place to stay of choice for artists and design enthusiasts, here light, colour and texture combine to create a mildly eccentric, laid back luxury vibe

The Mews building at Number 31 was a disused stable when it was bought by renowned and controversial architect Sam Stephenson in 1957, allegedly for £1000, which he quickly turned into Dublin’s perfect James Bond baddie pad.

The elegant Georgian town-house on Fitzwilliam Place with ornate stucco ceilings and spacious rooms is decorated as an homage to the Jazz age, featuring stunning period pieces and objet’s d’art from our owners collection.

A secluded garden joins both buildings, a tranquil space for guests to enjoy.

Delia’s renowned breakfast is one of the highlights here and seals our reputation for serving the Best Breakfast in Dublin among those in the know. It’s no surprise Number 31 was awarded Georgina Campbell’s 2017 Guesthouse of the Year.

As a guest at Number 31, lounge in Stephenson’s high style 1970s sunken living room and even stay in Sam’s Room with the latest 21st century technology at your fingertips as you dream about bygone glitterati. 

All this and more is hidden behind a traditional Dublin Georgian façade in a luxury townhouse that also features Jazz themed rooms and its cool sounds and décor of the Jazz Age in New Orleans, Chicago, London, New York, Paris, and even Berlin.

13. Number 11 North Great Georges Street

https://number11dublin.ie/airbnb/

14. St. Helen’s, Booterstown, Co Dublin – now Radisson Blu Stillorgan hotel €€

The Stillorgan Genealogy and History website tells us that it was built around 1750 for Thomas Cooley – Barrister/MP for Duleek, and was originally named Seamount. St. Helen’s is:

A listed two storey, five bay classical house with a centre pediment carried on coupled Corinthian pilasters, and lower wings, which are single-storey on one side and two-storey on the other. It has a cladding of Portland stone and a glass conservatory with curved roof. The fourth gatelodge was shared with San Souci.  The garden is thought to have been originally designed by Ninian Niven (the Victorian age landscaper). The 1st Viscount Gough [Hugh Gough (1779-1869), 1st Viscount of Goojerat and of Limerick], renamed the House St Helen’s during his tenure and employed John McCurdy to makes extensive alterations and additions so as ‘to add to the ​accommodations and comfort’ in 1862/3. A beech tree planted in the garden had a circular iron seat which was slowly subsumed by the tree. The garden also contained one of the few old Mulberry trees in the locality.

The house was renovated again for Sir John Nutting when he purchased it in 1897 by English architect William Douglas Caroe. It had four gatelodges, one of which ​was opposite St Thomas’s Church and another which as on Booterstown Avenue. By 1903 the house was the location for parties and charity concerts with over 500 people sometimes in attendance to hear Madame Alice Etsy or Melfort D’Alton sing, or a ball with Gottlieb’s band in attendance. The Nuttings were gracious hosts and they opened the gardens of their home for many charitable events.” Sold 1925 to Christian Brothers, who sold 1988, and after a period of uncertainty it was sold for conversion to an hotel in 1996. [6]

15. The Cottage, Kiltiernan, Dublin €

https://thecottagedublin.com/

The Cottage has a great history and has stood here for over 200 years looking down over the City boundaries, Dublin Bay and beyond.

This unique Irish Cottage has been tastefully restored to the highest modern standards so as to provide four star comforts within its two foot thick walls.
The Cottage is a great place from which to explore.

16. Tibradden Farm Cottages, Rathfarmham, Dublin 16 € for 4-8

https://www.dublincottages.com/

17. Waterloo House, Waterloo Road, Dublin 4 €€

https://www.waterloohouse.ie

Waterloo House is situated in Ballsbridge Dublin 4, just off the bustling Baggot Street and only a few minutes walk from St. Stephen’s Green, Grafton Street and many of Dublin’s key places of interest. Waterloo House offers free off-street parking – an absolute rarity in downtown Dublin! Yet amazingly, we are on one of the tranquil tree-lined avenues of Ballsbridge – a quiet residential street with gardens on both sides.
Waterloo House has 19 bedrooms, all are en-suite with HD flat screen TVs, direct-dial telephones and tea/coffee making facilities. There is also a lift to all floors. Reception is provided on a 24 hour basis and there is free Wi-Fi access throughout the hotel. Enjoy the hustle and bustle when you want it and then retreat to Waterloo House for a quiet night’s sleep. Waterloo House has combined two tall 1830’s Georgian townhouses to offer the finest in luxury four star boutique accommodation in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 – an elegant and stylish inner Dublin City Centre suburb. This fashionable address also boasts some of the finest restaurants in Dublin.

18. The Wilder Townhouse, Dublin 2

https://www.thewilder.ie/en/

Whole House Rental, Dublin:

1. Dalkey Lodge, Barnhill Road, Dalkey, County Dublin – whole house rental

http://www.dalkeylodge.com/Contact.htm

Dalkey Lodge, which dates to c. 1660, is the oldest surviving house in the heritage town of Dalkey. The house stands on just over an acre of mature, walled gardens, just a few minutes stroll from Dalkey village.

Accommodation comprises of a drawing room, dining room, well equipped kitchen, eight bedrooms, five bathrooms, games room / library with bar and a fully equipped utility room. The drawing room, dining room, games room and six of the bedrooms have fireplaces.

2. Dartry House, Orwell Woods, Dartry, Rathgar, Dublin 6 – whole house rental

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/46375076?federated_search_id=cb6603db-efd7-498c-8b21-dadc954e11ce&source_impression_id=p3_1646747923_dTbQ0T%2FnCNjzHKYX

3. Luttrellstown Castle, (known for a period as Woodlands), Clonsilla, Co Dublin – whole house? wedding venue

https://www.originalirishhotels.com/hotels/luttrellstown-castle-resort

Luttrellstown Castle Resort, photograph by Colm Kerr 2018, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [5]). The National Inventory describes it: “Detached seven-bay two-storey castle, incorporating fabric of earlier castle. Extended and remodelled c.1810, with battlements and turrets. Two wings to rear, with several later additions. Farmyard quadrangle mostly dating to c.1840. Demesne with lake, cascades, ice-house, gate lodges, obelisk, tower, bridges, rustic pavilion, and Doric temple. Now in use as hotel.”

The castle dates from around 1420, according to Timothy William Ferrars. [7] Ferrars tells us that SIR GEOFFREY DE LUTEREL (c1158-1218), who had large estates in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, and Yorkshire, accompanying KING JOHN to Ireland, and diligent in public affairs, “obtained a grant from the crown of Luttrellstown, on the payment of twenty ounces of gold, to hold by military service, and had livery of these lands” from John Marshal, Lord Marshal of Ireland. 

Thomas Luttrell (1466-1544) was Chief Justice of Ireland and lived in Luttrellstown. He married Anne Aylmer, of Lyons, County Kildare, in 1506. Another Thomas Luttrell of Luttrellstown married Alison St. Lawrence, of Howth Castle, daughter of the 10th Baron Howth (Nicholas St Lawrence, d. 1643).

Luttrellstown Castle, courtesy of Luttrellstown Castle Resort for Failte Ireland 2019, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [5])

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 195. “(Luttrell, Carhampton, E/DEP; White, Annaly, B/PB; Guinness, sub Iveagh, E/PB). An old castle of the Pale, originally the seat of the Irish Luttrells; whose members, during the course of C18, included the notorious Col Henry Luttrell [1655-1717], murdered in his sedan-chair in the streets of Dublin 1717; and two sisters, Anne, who married George III’s brother, the Duke of Cumberland, and Elizabeth, who is said to have committed suicide in Augsburg after being sentence to sweep the streets chained to a wheelbarrow, on a charge of picking pockets.” [8]

Anne Luttrell (1743-1808) Mrs Christopher Horton, later Duchess of Cumberland, by Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), painted 1766. She was born at Luttrellstown Castle, Dublin, she was a young widow when Gainsborough painted her likeness. Horace Walpole described her as having “the most amourous eyes in the world and eyelashes a yard long. Coquette beyond measure and artful as Cleopatra and complete mistress of all her passions and projects.” In 1771 she caused a storm by marrying Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, the king’s younger brother. Portrait in the National Gallery of Ireland.

This Henry Luttrell had raised and commanded five squadrons of cavalry for King James II. Although a Jacobite (a supporter of King James II) he was pardoned after the Treaty of Limerick (and therefore allowed to keep his lands, which had been confiscated from his brother, Simon [1600-1660]. Simon was married to Mary Preston, daughter of Jenico Preston, 5th Viscount Gormanston and his wife Margaret St Lawrence of Howth. He sat in the Patriot Parliament of King James II and was a representative for Carlow hence would have known Mark Baggot who also sat as representative for Carlow at that time!). In 1702, Henry was appointed a major-general in the Dutch service; but, on the death of King William III, retired to his principal residence at Luttrellstown.

Bence-Jones continues: “The brother of these two ladies, Gen Henry Luttrell, 2nd Earl of Carhampton, sold Luttrellstown ca 1800 to Luke White [1740-1824], MP, self-made millionaire who changed the name of the property to Woodlands, and encased the old castle in romantic early C19 Gothic, with battlements and round and polygonal turrets; he also added to it, and remodelled  and redecorated the interior; creating the octagonal entrance hall, with its ceiling of plaster Gothic vaulting, and giving the ballroom its magnificent and unusual ceiling of plaster vaulting with Adamesque ornamentation. The only major interior surviving from Luttrell’s time is the library, which in their day was the entrance hall; it has an unusual C18 ceiling with a bow and arrow in high relief.

Luttrellstown Castle, courtesy of Luttrellstown Castle Resort for Failte Ireland 2019, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [5])

Mark Bence-Jones continues: “The two principal ranges of the castle are at an acute angle to each other, which makes for attractive vistas through the rooms in unexpected directions. An entrance tower and porch, and a Tudor-Revival banqueting hall, were added to the castle later in C19, probably in 1850s by Luke White’s son, who afterwards became 1st Lord Annaly [Henry, 1789-1873]. 3rd Lord Annaly [Luke, 1857-1922], who held various court appointments under Edward VII and George V, went back to calling the castle by its old name of Luttrellstown. For some years, early this century, Luttrellstown was owned by Major E.C. Hamilton; then, ca 1927, it was bought by Hon Ernest Guinness [Arthur Ernest Guinness, (1876-1949) son of the 1st Earl of Iveagh], who gave it to his daughter, Hon Mrs Brinsley Plunket [Aileen], on her wedding [to Brinsley Sheridan Bushe Plunket]. During the years that Luttrellstown was her home, Mrs Plunket decorated and furnished the castle with palatial elegance, and entertained in a grand manner. She replaced C19 Tudor banqueting hall with a splendid dining room in early C20 style, with birds and swags and foliage of stucco in high relief on the walls, and a painted ceiling by de Wit. The room was designed by Mr Felix Harbord, who also designed an Adamesque drawing room decorated with grisaille paintings by Peter de Gree fro Oirel Temple, and transformed the staircase hall with a painted ceiling by Thornhill. The demesne of Luttrellstown is of great extent and beauty, with a large lake spanned by a many-arched bridge, a sham ruin and Doric temple.” 

Luttrellstown Castle, courtesy of Luttrellstown Castle Resort for Failte Ireland 2018, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [5])
Gothic Hall, Luttrellstown Castle, courtesy of Luttrellstown Castle Resort for Failte Ireland 2018, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [5]) The National inventory describes the interior: “Octagonal entrance hall; Gothic vaulting; ballroom with Adamesque plasterwork.”
Inner Hall, Luttrellstown Castle, Mark Fennell Photography, courtesy of Luttrellstown Castle Resort for Failte Ireland 2018, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [5])
Inner Hall: the staircase hall with a painted ceiling by Thornhill, Luttrellstown Castle, courtesy of Luttrellstown Castle Resort for Failte Ireland 2018, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [5])
Luttrellstown Castle Resort, Van Stry Ballroom, photgraph by Mark Fennell Photography 2018, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [5])
Luttrellstown Castle Resort, Van Stry Ballroom, photograph by Colm Kerr 2018. (see [5])
Luttrellstown Castle Resort, The Kentian Room: “birds and swags and foliage of stucco in high relief on the walls, and a painted ceiling by de Wit. The room was designed by Mr Felix Harbord, who also designed an Adamesque drawing room decorated with grisaille paintings by Peter de Gree fro Oirel Temple, and transformed the staircase hall with a painted ceiling by Thornhill”, photograph by Colm Kerr, 2019, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [5])
Luttrellstown Castle Resort, The Kentian Room, photograph by Colm Kerr 2018 (see [5])

Robert O’Byrne gives us a wonderful description of life at Luttrellstown Castle and the Guinness family on his website, https://theirishaesthete.com/2015/02/23/temps-perdu/

4. Orlagh House, Dublin – whole house rental

https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/orlagh-house/

The Hidden Ireland website tells us:

A Georgian mansion built by Dublin snuff merchant Lundy Foot back in 1790. Frequent visitors to the house included the Great Emancipator Daniel O’Connell, Eoin Mac Neill, Padraig Pearse and William Smith O’Brian, among many other famous figures from Anglo-Irish history.

A truly unique house set on 45 acres in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains, with spectacular views over Dublin City and stretching out as far as the Irish Sea. We are only 25 minutes from Dublin Airport and from Dublin city centre. The house has been lovingly and tastefully restored in recent years, with large drawing and reception rooms and open fires. Our beautiful dining room sits 20 people at our regency table. There is a large games room in the basement of the house with table tennis, pool table, and a full-sized snooker table.

There is lots to do in the immediate area including numerous hiking trails both on the estate and in proximity including the Dublin Way and the Wicklow Way. We have an equestrian centre next door with reduced rates for guests and some of Dublin’s most infamous pubs are within 10 minutes of the house, with great local food, traditional music, and Irish dancing.

The house really is one-of-a-kind.

WEDDINGS

Orlagh house is the perfect location for couples who want something different from the norm, a unique and truly personal day to remember. Exclusively yours for your wedding day with a second day optional, we also have 14 bedrooms to offer your guests.

We have an in-house catering team who can create your perfect menu, from sit down formal dining to a more laid-back BBQ’. Choose from our indoor ballroom or numerous outside garden areas. Our wedding team are there to help you with everything you may need.

[1] https://www.youwho.ie/airfield.html

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

[3] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/50030310/clontarf-castle-castle-avenue-clontarf-dublin-3-dublin

[4] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/11204046/finnstown-country-hotel-hotel-r120-finnstown-dublin

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

[6] https://landedfamilies.blogspot.com

[7] http://lordbelmontinnorthernireland.blogspot.com/search/label/County%20Dublin%20Landowners?updated-max=2018-01-23T13:22:00Z&max-results=20&start=11&by-date=false

[8] 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.

Office of Public Works properties: Leinster: Carlow, Kildare

Just to finish up my entries about Office of Public Works properties: Carlow, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow are the counties that make up the Leinster region.

Carlow:

1. Altamont Gardens

Kildare:

2. Castletown House, County Kildare

3. Maynooth Castle, County Kildare

Carlow:

1. Altamont House and Gardens, Bunclody Road, Altamont, Ballon, County Carlow:

Altamont House and Gardens, photograph by Sonder Visuals, 2015, for Tourism Ireland, from Ireland’s Content Pool. [1]

General information: (059) 915 9444

altamontgardens@opw.ie

https://heritageireland.ie/visit/places-to-visit/altamont-gardens/

From the OPW website:

A large and beautiful estate covering 16 hectares in total, Altamont Gardens is laid out in the style of William Robinson, which strives for ‘honest simplicity’. The design situates an excellent plant collection perfectly within the natural landscape.

For example, there are lawns and sculpted yews that slope down to a lake ringed by rare trees and rhododendrons. A fascinating walk through the Arboretum, Bog Garden and Ice Age Glen, sheltered by ancient oaks and flanked by huge stone outcrops, leads to the banks of the River Slaney. Visit in summer to experience the glorious perfume of roses and herbaceous plants in the air.

With their sensitive balance of formal and informal, nature and artistry, Altamont Gardens have a unique – and wholly enchanting – character.” [2]

From “In Harmony with Nature, The Irish Country House Garden 1600-1900” in the Irish Georgian Society, July 2022, curated by Robert O’Byrne.
Altamont, photograph by Sonder Visuals 2017 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

From Living Legacies: Ireland’s National Historic Properties in the care of the OPW, Government Publications, Dublin, 2018:

Altamont House was constructed in the 1720s, incorporating parts of an earlier structure said to have been a medieval nunnery. In the 1850s, a lake was excavated in the grounds of the house, but it was when the Lecky-Watsons, a local Quaker family, acquired Altamont in 1924 that the gardens truly came into their own.

Feilding Lecky-Watson had worked as a tea planter in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) where he nurtured his love of exotic plants, and of rhododendrons in particular. Back in Ireland, he became an expert in the species, cultivating plants for the botanical gardnes at Glasnevin, Kew and Edinburgh. So passionate was he about these plants that when his wife, Isobel, gave birth to a daughter in 1922, she was named Corona, after his favourite variety of rhododendron.” [3]

Altamont House and Gardens lake, photograph by Sonder Visuals, 2015, for Tourism Ireland, from Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

Around the lake are mature conifers that were planted in the 1800s, including a giant Wellingtonia which commemorates the Battle of Waterloo. [3] Corona continued in her father’s footsteps, planing rhododendrons, magnolia and Japanese maples. Another feature is the “100 steps” hand-cut in granite, leading down to the River Slaney. There are red squirrels, otters in the lake and river, and peacocks. Before her death, Corona handed Altamont over to the Irish state to ensure its preservation.

The Temple, Altamont House and Gardens, photograph by Sonder Visuals, 2015, for Tourism Ireland, from Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

Kildare:

2. Castletown House and Parklands, Celbridge, County Kildare.

Castletown House, County Kildare, Photo by Mark Wesley 2016, Tourism Ireland, from Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

General Information: castletown@opw.ie

https://castletown.ie

From the OPW website:

Castletown is set amongst beautiful eighteenth-century parklands on the banks of the Liffey in Celbridge, County Kildare.

The house was built around 1722 for the speaker of the Irish House of Commons, William Conolly, to designs by several renowned architects. It was intended to reflect Conolly’s power and to serve as a venue for political entertaining on a grand scale. At the time Castletown was built, commentators expected it to be ‘the epitome of the Kingdom, and all the rarities she can afford’.

The estate flourished under William Conolly’s great-nephew Thomas and his wife, Lady Louisa, who devoted much of her life to improving her home.

Today, Castletown is home to a significant collection of paintings, furnishings and objets d’art. Highlights include three eighteenth-century Murano-glass chandeliers and the only fully intact eighteenth-century print room in the country.

It is still the most splendid Palladian-style country house in Ireland.

This photo was taken probably by Robert French, chief photographer of William Lawrence Photographic Studios of Dublin, National Library of Ireland flickr constant commons.
Castletown Gates, built in 1783 by Lady Louisa Conolly, by John Coates of Maynooth. They are mounted with sphinxes.

The Conolly family sold Castletown in 1965. Mark Bence-Jones tells us that the estate was bought for development and for two years the house stood empty and deteriorating. In 1967, Hon Desmond Guinness courageously bought the house with 120 acres, to be the headquarters of the Irish Georgian Society, and in order to save it for posterity. Since then the house has been restored and it now contains an appropriate collection of furniture, pictures and objects, which has either been bought for the house, presented to it by benefactors, or loaned. It is now maintained by the Office of Public Works and the Castletown Trust.

William Conolly (1662-1729) rose from modest beginnings to be the richest man in Ireland in his day. He was a lawyer from Ballyshannon, County Donegal, who made an enormous fortune out of land transactions in the unsettled period after the Williamite wars.

William Conolly had property on Capel Street in Dublin, before moving to Celbridge. Conolly’s house was on the corner of Capel Street and Little Britain Street and was demolished around 1770. [4] The Kildare Local History webpage gives us an excellent description of William Conolly’s rise to wealth:

In November 1688, William Conolly was one of the Protestants who fled Dublin to join the Williamites in Chester alongside his late Celbridge neighbour Bartholomew Van Homrigh.

On the victory of William III, he acquired a central role dealing in estates forfeited by supporters of James II, commencing his rise to fortune with the forfeited estates of the McDonnells of Antrim.

In 1691 he purchased Rodanstown outside Kilcock, which became his country residence until he purchased Castletown in 1709.

A dowry of £2,300 came his way in 1694 when he married Katherine Conyngham, daughter of Albert Conyngham, a Williamite General who had been killed in the war at Collooney in 1691.

He was appointed Collector and Receiver of Revenue for the towns of Derry and Coleraine on May 2nd 1698.

Conolly was the largest purchaser of forfeited estates in the period 1699–1703, acquiring also 20,000 acres spread over five counties at a cost of just £7,000.” [5]

He rose to become Speaker of the House of Commons in the Irish Parliament. William Conolly married Katherine Conyngham of Mount Charles, County Donegal, whose brother purchased Slane Castle in County Meath (see my entry https://irishhistorichouses.com/2019/07/19/slane-castle-county-meath/). As well as earning money himself, his wife brought a large dowry.

William Conolly purchased land in County Kildare which had been owned by Thomas Dongan (1634-1715), 2nd Earl of Limerick, in 1709. Dongan’s estate had been confiscated as he was a Jacobite supporter of James II (he became first governor of the Duke of York’s province of New York! The Earldom ended at his death). Dongan’s mother was the daughter of William Talbot, 1st Baronet of Carton (see my entry about Carton, County Kildare, under Places to stay in County Kildare https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/04/27/places-to-visit-and-to-stay-leinster-kildare-kilkenny-laois/).

William Conolly (1662-1729) in his robes as Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, by Stephen Catterson Smith the Elder (1806-1872), portrait in Hall of Castletown. The portrait was donated by Mr and Mrs Galen Weston. This posthumous portrait was based on Jervas’s portrait of the Speaker in the Green Drawing Room.
Statue taken from the funeral monument of Speaker William Conolly, of him reclining next to his wife, by Thomas Carter.
The Funerary monument with William and Katherine Conolly. The Latin inscription reads: “William Conolly who attained as the reward of his medit the highest honours, was for about twenty years a Commissioner of the revenue in the reign of Queen Anne and George I, was a Privy Councillor in the reign of George II. He was twice unanimously elected Speaker of the House of Commons in the Parliament of this realm and then ten times held the Office of Lord Justice of Ireland, being the first to whom both the Sovereign and the people entrusted at the same time of their privileges with the happiest result. As a subject, he was loyal, as a citizen, patriotic. In perilous times he not once or twice proved that he served his King without forgetting his duty to his country. Firm, resolute, just, wise, formed by nature for the ilfe of a statesman, his administration of affairs was crowned with success to the greater advantage of the Commonwealth. He made a modest, though splendid use of the great riches he had honestly acquired, distinguished as he was alike for the courtesy, integrity and munificence of his disposition. Kind-hearted towards all men, he was loyal to his friends, whom he bound to himself in great numbers – retained their friendship when once he had gained it. Wishing to do good even after his death, he gave directions by his will that a building should be erected on the adjacent lands for the maintenance and education of the children of the poor and he endowed it forever with large revenues. Having lived long enough to satisfy the claims of nature and his fame, he died October 1729 in the 67th year of his life. Cath of the Conyngham family has erected this monument to her worthy husband.”
Katherine Conyngham, wife of William Conolly, also from the funeral monument.
Katherine Conyngham (c. 1662-1752) who married William Conolly, with her great-niece Molly Burton. Portrait by Charles Jervas.
I’m not sure but the top portrait looks like Katherine Conyngham to me.

The Archiseek website tells us about the design of Castletown House:

“Soon after the project got underway Conolly met Alessandro Galilei (1691-1737), an Italian architect, who had been employed in Ireland by Lord Molesworth in 1718 [John Molesworth, 2nd Viscount, who had been British envoy to Florence]. He designed the façade of the main block in the style of a 16th century Italian town palace. He returned to Italy in 1719 and was not associated with the actual construction of the house which began in 1722. Sir Edward Lovett Pearce (died 1733), a young Irish architect, on his Italian grand tour became acquainted with Galilei in Florence and through this connection he was employed by the Speaker to complete Castletown when he returned to Ireland in 1724. Pearce had first hand knowledge of the work of the Italian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) and his annotated copy of Palladio’s Quattro libri dell’architettura survives. It was Pearce who added the Palladian colonnades and the terminating pavillions. This layout was the first major Palladian scheme in Ireland and soon had many imitators.” [6]

Alessandro Gallilei (1691-1737).
Castletown House, County Kildare, Photograph from macmillan media for Tourism Ireland 2015, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1] Started in 1722 to the designs of Alessandro Gallilei, it was continued by Edward Lovett Pearce, who was influenced by Italian architect Andrea Palladio. Pearce designed the colonnades and pavilions. In the wings on the left (west wing) are the kitchens and on the right, the stables (east wing).

Mark Bence-Jones describes Castletown in his  A Guide to Irish Country Houses. The centre block is of three storeys over basement, and has two almost identical thirteen bay fronts “reminiscent of the façade of an Italian Renaissance town palazzo; with no pediment or central feature and no ornamentation except for doorcase, entablatures over the ground floor windows, alternate segmental and triangular pediments over the windows of the storey above and a balustraded roof parapet. Despite the many windows and the lack of a central feature, there is no sense of monotony or heaviness; the effect being one of great beauty  and serenity.” [7] The centre block is made of Edenderry limestone, and is topped by cornice and balustrade. On the ground floor the windows have frieze, cornice and lugged architrave, and on the first floor, alternating triangular and segmental pediments.

On the ground floor the windows have frieze, cornice and lugged architrave, and on the first floor, alternating triangular and segmental pediments. The upper floor is half size.
The doorcase is gracefully tall and is framed by Ionic columns, and is reached by a sweeping set of steps. Photograph by Swire Chin, Toronto, May 2013, from flickr constant commons.

Pearce added the curved Ionic colonnades and two two-storey seven bay wings. He also designed the impressive two-storey entrance hall inside.

Back of Castletown House, Celbridge, Co Kildare, photograph by Sonder Visuals2022 for Failte Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.
Colonnade by Edward Lovett Pearce, October 2022.
The East Wing.
The east side of Castletown, and the back of east wing. The back of the curved colonnade can be seen.
The Sensory Garden and the side and back of the West Wing.
The East side of the house. The West Wing houses the Café.
The Café in the West Wing.
Side of the West Wing, October 2022. Extending the facade of the house are pedimented gateways to the kitchen yard and stable yard.

William died in 1729 aged just 67, so he had only a few years to enjoy his house. His wife Katherine lived on in the house another twenty-three years until her death at the age of 90 in 1752. William and Katherine had no children, so his estate passed to his nephew William James Conolly (1712-1754), son of William’s brother Patrick. We came across William James Conolly before in Leixlip Castle (another Section 482 property), which he also inherited. William James married Lady Anne Wentworth, the daughter of the Earl of Strafford. Her father, Thomas Wentworth 1st Earl of Strafford is not the more famous Thomas Wentworth 1st Earl of Strafford who was executed (of whom there is at least one portrait in Castletown) but a later one, of the second creation. William James died just two years after Katherine Conolly, so the estate then passed to his son Thomas Conolly (1738-1803).

Thomas Conolly (1738-1803) by Anton Raphael Mengs, painted 1758. The German painter Mengs captured Conolly as a 19 year old on his Grand Tour. He is shown posting in front of a Roman sarcophagus, the “Relief of the Muses,” now in the Louvre. He is wearing a rich satin suit with gilt braid, portraying a young cultured aristocrat. In reality he displayed little interest in ancient civilisation, and brought back no souvenirs from Rome save for this portrait. Portrait in the National Gallery of Ireland.
Lady Anne Conolly (née Wentworth) (1713-1797) Attributed to Anthony Lee, Irish, fl.1724-1767. Photograph courtesy of National Gallery of Ireland.

Thomas married Louisa Lennox in 1758, one of five Lennox sisters, daughters of the Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond. From the age of eight she had lived at nearby Carton with her sister Emily, who was married to James Fitzgerald, the 20th Earl of Kildare (who became the 1st Duke of Leinster). At Carton, Louisa was exposed to the fashionable ideas of the day in architecture, decoration, horticulture and landscaping. [8] Louisa loved Castletown and continually planned improvements, planting trees, designing the lake and building bridges.

Louisa Lennox who married Thomas Conolly.
In the dining room, over the fireplace, half-length portrait of Charles Lennox (1701–1750), 2nd Duke of Richmond and 2nd Duke of Lennox, by Jean-Baptiste Van Loo, wearing armour with the ribbon of the Order of the Garter, in a contemporary frame in the manner of William Kent. 
Carton House, 2022.

Archiseek continues: “The Castletown papers, estate records and account books, together with Lady Louisa’s [i.e. Louisa Lennox, wife of Tom Conolly] diaries and correspondence with her sisters, provide a valuable record of life at Castletown and also of the reorganisation of the house. Lady Louisa’s letters from the 1750s onwards are revealing of the fashions in costume design, fabric patterns and furniture. She played an important part in the alteration and redecoration of Castletown during the 1760s and 1770s. As no single architect was responsible for all of the work carried out, she supervised most of it herself. Much of the redecoration of the house was done to the published designs of the English architect Sir William Chambers (1723-1796) who never came to Ireland himself. Chambers also worked for Lady Louisa’s brother, the 3rd Duke of Richmond, at Goodwood in Sussex. In a letter, written in July 1759, Lady Louisa mentions instructions given by Chambers to his assistant Simon Vierpyl who supervised the work at Castletown.” (see [6])

Description of the Hall, from Archiseek: “This impressive two-storeyed room with a black and white chequered floor, was designed by Sir Edward Lovett Pearce. The Ionic order on the lower storey is similar to that of the colonnades outside and at gallery level there are tapering pilasters with baskets of flowers and fruit carved in wood. The coved ceiling has a central moulding comprising a square Greek key patterned frame and central roundel with shell decoration.” [see 6]

Great Hall, photograph by Swire Chin, Toronto, May 2013 flickr constant commons.
The Gallery of the Great Hall. Photograph by Swire Chin, Toronto, May 2013 flickr constant commons.
Photograph by Swire Chin, Toronto, May 2013 flickr constant commons.

The polished limestone floor with its chequered design and the Kilkenny marble fireplace reflect William Conolly’s desire to build the house solely of native Irish materials. Unfortunately when we visited in October 2022, the hall was half hidden with a large two storey curtain, as the windows are all being repaired. As we can see in the photograph, the room has an Ionic colonnade to the rear, and a gallery at first floor level, and the stair hall is through an archway in the east wall.

Hall of Castletown, with picture of Leixlip Castle by Joseph Tudor over the black Kilkenny marble fireplace, and portrait of William Conolly 1662-1729, by Stephen Catterson Smith the Elder.
Picture of Leixlip Castle, which was also owned by William Conolly and by Desmond Guinness.

When the owners were selling off the items in the house, they tried to sell the picture of Leixlip Castle that is in the front hall over the fireplace. It turned out to be painted on to the wall, so had to remain in the house! See my entry about Leixlip Castle https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/09/04/leixlip-castle-county-kildare-desmond-guinnesss-jewelbox-of-treasures/

The Ionic order on the lower storey is similar to that of the colonnades outside and at gallery level there are tapering pilasters with baskets of flowers and fruit carved in wood. The large curtain, in October 2022, is protecting the room from where the windows are being repaired. Instead of capitals, the cloumns in the upper storey are topped with baskets of fruit.
Great Hall, Castletown House, Celbridge, Co Kildare, photograph by Sonder Visuals 2022 for Failte Ireland.
The coved ceiling of the Hall has a central moulding comprising a square Greek key patterned frame, modillion cornice and central roundel with shell decoration. A modillion cornice is a cornice of the Corinthian order, made up of modillions, or ornamented brackets, frequently used as the cornice of a ceiling.
Ceiling of Great Hall, Castletown House, June 2015.
Photograph from the album of Henry Shaw, of the Entrance Hall, in the time of that later Thomas Conolly (1823-1876) and his wife Sarah Eliza.
Photograph from the album of Henry Shaw, of the Entrance Hall, in the time of that later Thomas Conolly (1823-1876) and his wife Sarah Eliza.

From the entrance hall, one enters the magnificent Stair Hall. The Castletown website describes the stair hall:

The Portland stone staircase at Castletown is one of the largest cantilevered staircases in Ireland. It was built in 1759 under the direction of the master builder Simon Vierpyl (c.1725–1811). Prior to this the space was a shell, although a plan attributed to Edward Lovett Pearce suggests that a circular staircase was previously intended.

The solid brass balustrade was installed by Anthony King, later Lord Mayor of Dublin. He signed and dated three of the banisters, ‘A. King Dublin 1760’. The opulent rococo plasterwork was created by the Swiss-Italian stuccadore Filippo Lafranchini, who, with his older brother Paolo, had worked at Carton and Leinster House for Lady Lousia’s brother-in-law, the first Duke of Leinster, as well as at Russborough in Co. Wicklow. Shells, cornucopias, dragons and masks feature in the light-hearted decoration which represents the final development of the Lafranchini style. Family portraits are also included with Tom Conolly at the foot of the stairs and Louisa above to his right. The four seasons are represented on the piers and on either side of the arched screen.

The staircase at Castletown House. Pub Orig Country Life 22/08/1936 
Image Number: 873959  
Publication Date: 22/08/1936  
Country Life Volume: LXXX
Page: 196 
Photographer: A.E.Henson.

 
Photograph by Swire Chin, Toronto, May 2013 flickr constant commons.
Stair Hall, Castletown House, Celbridge, Co Kildare, photograph by Sonder Visuals 2022 for Failte Ireland.
The Portland stone staircase at Castletown is one of the largest cantilevered staircases in Ireland. It was built in 1759 under the direction of the master builder Simon Vierpyl (c.1725–1811). The plasterwork is by Lafranchini brothers. In the stair hall, in the rococo plasterwork, Tom and Louisa Conolly are represented in plaster, along with shells, masks and flowers. 
The solid brass balustrade was installed by Anthony King, later Lord Mayor of Dublin. He signed and dated three of the banisters, ‘A. King Dublin 1760’.
Thomas Conolly, who inherited the estate, in stucco on stairs of Castletown, and his wife Louisa is further up on his right. Her sister Emily, who lived at Carton nearby, is also pictured in the plasterwork.
Thomas Conolly, grand-nephew of William Conolly.
Lady Louisa Conolly, photograph by Swire Chin, Toronto, May 2013 flickr constant commons.
Ceiling of Stair Hall, Castletown House, June 2015.
Castletown House, a copy of ‘The Bear Hunt’ by 17th century Flemish painter Paul de Vos (1596-1678) is framed by Lafranchini plasterwork. It was cut down at some stage on the right side to fit into the central plaster recess above the cantilevered staircase, which would indicate that the painting was not commissioned for the space. Our guide told us that men would bet on how quickly the dogs would kill the bear. What a dreadful past-time! The Conollys imported a bear, and kept it in the dog kennels but it died, and they had it stuffed and put in the nursery!
In this old photograph of the nursery on the second floor, we see not only the stuffed bear but the skin and head of another. The photograph is one from an album of photographs on display at Castletown, belonging to Chris Shaw. His father Henry was the brother of Sarah Eliza Shaw who married Thomas Conolly (1823-1876), who inherited Castletown.
Castletown House, June 2015.
The staircase in the 1950s, prior to the sale of the house and the auction of two of the three large canvases above the stairs, photograph by Hugh Doran.

Mark Bence-Jones continues:

In the following year, Tom Conolly and Lady Louisa employed the Francini to decorate the walls of the staircase hall with rococo stuccowork; and in 1760 the grand staircase itself – of cantilevered stone, with a noble balustrade of brass columns – was installed; the work beign carried out by Simon Vierpyl, a protégé of Sir William Chambers. The principal reception rooms, which form an enfilade along the garden front and were mostly decorated at this time, are believed to be by Chambers himself; they have ceilings of geometrical plasterwork, very characteristic of him. Also in this style is the dining room, to the left of the entrance hall. It was here that, according to the story, Tom Conolly found himself giving supper to the Devil, whom he had met out hunting and invited back, believing him to be merely a dark stranger; but had realised the truth when his guest’s boots were removed, revealing him to have unusually hairy feet. He therefore sent for the priest, who threw his breviary at the unwelcome guest, which missed him and cracked a mirror. This, however, was enough to scare the Devil, who vanished through the hearthstone. Whatever the truth of this story, the hearthstone in the dining room is shattered, and one of the mirrors is cracked.

In the dining room, the Cranfield Mirror, the work of the Dublin carver Richard Cranfield (1713-1809). There are three of these mirrors, and one is cracked. I took this photograph when our friend Mark was visiting Ireland in 2017.
The cracked Cranfield mirror, cracked by a Bible which the local prelate had thrown at the Devil!

The Dining Room, description from Archiseek:

This room dates from the 1760s redecoration of Castletown undertaken by Lady Louisa Conolly and reflects the mid-eighteenth century fashion for separate dining rooms. Originally, there were two smaller panelled rooms here. It was reconstructed to designs by Sir William Chambers, with a compartmentalised ceiling similar to one by Inigo Jones in the Queen’s House at Greenwich. The chimney-piece and door cases are in the manner of Chambers. Of the four doors, two are false. 

Furniture original to Castletown includes the two eighteenth-century giltwood side tables. Their frieze is decorated with berried laurel foliage similar to the door entablatures in the Red and Green Drawing Rooms. The three elaborate pier glasses are original to the Dining Room. The frames are carved fruiting vines, symbols of Bacchus and festivity. These are probably the work of the Dublin carver Richard Cranfield (1713-1809) who, with the firm of Thomas Jackson of Essex Bridge, Dublin, was paid large sums for carving and gilding throughout the house.

My Dad Desmond and Stephen in the Dining Room of Castletown House, June 2015. Note the vase on the side table, one of a pair of large Meissen gilt and white two-handled campana vases with everted rims and entwined scrolling serpent and acanthus handles. This pair of vases is reputed to have been given to Thomas Conolly (1823–1876) as a gift by the future French Emperor, Napoleon III.
The dining room, 2017. The portrait over the fireplace in the dining room is a half-length portrait of Charles Lennox (1701–1750), 2nd Duke of Richmond and 2nd Duke of Lennox, wearing armour with the ribbon of the Order of the Garter, in a contemporary frame in the manner of William Kent. Furniture original to Castletown includes the two eighteenth-century giltwood side tables, which are also attributed to Richard Cranfield. Their frieze is decorated with berried laurel foliage similar to the door entablatures in the Red and Green Drawing Rooms.
The frieze on the giltwood side tables in the Dining Room is decorated with berried laurel foliage similar to the door entablatures in the Red and Green Drawing Rooms.
The Dining Room, October 2022, with the giltwood side table, Meissen vase, and portrait of Katherine Conyngham with her niece. Portraits over the landscape painting are of Harriet Murray (1742-1822) who married Henry Westenra (1742-1809) and Hester Westenra – this portrait could be of Harriet Murray’s daughter Hester (1775-1858) who married Edward Wingfield (1772-1859).
Harriet Murray (1742-1822) married Henry Westenra (1742-1809) and Hester Westenra – this portrait could be of Harriet Murray’s daughter Hester (1775-1858) who married Edward Wingfield (1772-1859). There are many portraits of the Westenra family currently in Castletown House. I don’t know if there is any connection between the Westenra family and Castletown – perhaps the portraits belong to the Office of Public Works and are used to suitably furnish Castletown.
Anne Murray (1734-1827), sister of Harriet in the photograph above. Anne married Theophilus Jones (1725-1811). Perhaps the man in the portrait is Theophilus Jones. Anne was second wife of Theophilus Jones, who had previously married Catherine Beresford of Curraghmore, daughter of Marcus Beresford 1st Earl of Tyrone.
Josephine Lloyd (1827-1912) who married Henry Robert Westenra, 2nd (UK) and 3rd Baron (Ireland) Rossmore of Monaghan.
One of a pair of large Meissen gilt and white two-handled campana vases with everted rims and entwined scrolling serpent and acanthus handles. This pair of vases is reputed to have been given to Thomas Conolly (1823–1876) as a gift by the future French Emperor, Napoleon III. I don’t know who is featured in this portrait – I’ll have to find out! It’s very beautiful. Tell me if you can identify our lovely lady in white and blue. To me she looks like Anne Hyde (1637-1671), Duchess of York, wife of King James II.

Between the front of the house, with its Entrance Hall, Stair Hall and Dining Room is a corridor, or rather, two corridors, one to the west and one to the east of the Entrance Hall. This corridor is on every storey, including the basement. To the rear (north) of the house on the ground floor is an enfilade of rooms: the Brown Study to the west end, next to another staircase, then the Red Drawing Room, the Green Drawing Room, the Print Room, the State Bedroom, and then small rooms called the Healy Room and the Map Room.

One of the corridors between the front and back of the house on the ground floor, October 2022.
The high ceilinged corridors end in large windows.

The corridors now hold paintings and art works, and one has a cabinet of Meissen porcelain.

Meissen porcelain pieces were created specially for clients, with favourite symbols and objects.
King George III
Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III.
Queen Victoria.

Next to the Dining Room at the front of the house is the Butler’s Pantry, which contains photographs of the servants of Castletown, and a portrait of a housekeeper, Mrs Parnel Moore (1649–1761). It’s unusual to have a portrait of a housekeeper but perhaps someone painted her because she was a beloved member of the household, as she lived to be at least 112 years! This is a very old portrait dating back to the 1700s.

The Castletown website tells us about the Butler’s Pantry: “The Butler’s Pantry dates from the 1760s and connected the newly created Dining Room with the kitchens in the West Wing. Food was carried in from the kitchens through the colonnade passageway and then reheated in the pantry before being served. The great kitchens were on the ground floor of the west wing, with servants’ quarters upstairs. Upwards of 80 servants would have been employed in the house and kitchens in the late eighteenth century under the direction of the Butler and the Housekeeper.”

A house like Castletown relied on an army of servants and this portrait of former housekeeper Mrs Parnel Moore – aged 112 according to the inscription – dates back to the beginnings of Castletown and is one of the oldest original items in the collection.
English servants of Castletown, photograph in Butler’s Pantry of Castletown.
Irish servants of Castletown, photograph in Butler’s Pantry of Castletown.
Enfilade of rooms on the north side, photograph by Swire Chin, Toronto, May 2013 flickr constant commons.

The Red Drawing Room, description from Archiseek:

It is one of a series of State Rooms that form an enfilade and were used on important occasions in the eighteenth century. This room was redesigned in the mid 1760s in the manner of Sir William Chambers. The chimney-piece, ceiling and pier glasses are typical of his designs. 

The walls are covered in red damask which is probably French and dates from the 1820s. Lady Shelburne recorded in her journal seeing a four coloured damask, predominently red, in this room. The Aubusson carpet dates from about 1850 and may have been made for the room. Much of the furniture has always been in the house and Lady Louisa Conolly paid 11/2 guineas for each of the Chinese Chippendale armchairs which she considered very expensive. The chairs and settee were made in Dublin and they are displayed in a formal arrangement against the walls as they would have been in the eighteenth century. The bureau was made for Lady Louisa in the 1760s.

The neoclassical ceiling, which replaced the vaulted original, is based on published designs by the Italian Renaissance architect, Sebastiano Serlio, and is modelled after one in Leinster House (belonging to Lady Louisa’s sister’s husband the Earl of Kildare). The white Carrara chimney-piece came to the house in 1768.

The Red Drawing Room in Castletown House, June 2015.
A Chinese gilt and polychrome lacquer cabinet on Irish stand, with a pair of doors later painted with vignettes of romantic landscapes and birds on floral sprays. The landscapes on this lacquered cabinet are said to have been painted by Katherine Conolly as a gift for her great-niece, Molly Burton, in about 1725. Katherine, who had no children herself, looked after Molly after her father died. [9]
The Red Drawing Room in October 2022.
The Red Drawing Room in October 2022.
The white Carrara chimney-piece came to the house in 1768. Andrew Tierney tells us in Buildings of Ireland: Central Leinster. The Counties of Kildare, Laois and Offaly that it is by John Devall & Son and based on Isaac Ware’s Designs of Inigo Jones (1731).
The neoclassical ceiling, which replaced the vaulted original, is based on published designs by the Italian Renaissance architect, Sebastiano Serlio. There is also a modillion cornice and a Rococo frieze.
The wallpaper has been specially recreated from original material, and the curtains have been made to match.
Chinese Chippendale sofas, Irish, c.1770, photograph from 2015.

The Green Drawing Room, description from Archiseek:

The Conollys formally received important visitors to the house in the Green Drawing Room which was the saloon or principal reception room. The room was redecorated in the 1760s and like the other state rooms reflects the neo-classical taste of the architect Sir William Chambers. The Greek key decoration on the ceiling is repeated on the pier glasses and the chimney-piece. Originally these were pier tables with a Greek key frieze and copies of these may be made in the future. The chimney-piece is similar to one designed by Chambers for Lord Charlemont’s Casino at Marino.”

The Castletown website tells us: “The Green Drawing Room was the main reception room or saloon on the ground floor. Visitors could enter from the Entrance Hall or the garden front. Like the other state rooms it was extensively remodelled between 1764 and 1768. The influence of the published designs of Serlio and the leading British architect Isaac Ware can be seen in the neo-classical ceiling, door cases and chimney-piece...The walls were first lined with a pale green silk damask in the 1760s. Fragments of this silk, which was replaced by a dark green mid-nineteenth century silk, survived and the present silk was woven as a direct colour match in 1985 by Prelle et Cie in Lyon, France.”

The Green Drawing Room, Castletown House, June 2015. Portrait of the woman and child is Mrs Katherine Conolly with Miss Molly Burton, by Charles Jervas. The man on the other side of the door is Speaker William Conolly. The door to the entrance hall is gilded and pedimented and is by Richard Cranfield of Dublin (after that by Ware in the saloon of Leinster House), with “pulvinated” (i.e. having the shape of a cushion) bay-leaf frieze. The chimeypiece replicates the key pattern on the ceilng.
Our guide showed us how the Green Drawing Room opens into the Great Hall.
The Green Drawing Room, October 2022.
Charles Lennox 2nd Duke of Richmond (1701-1750). I’m not sure if this is his wife Sarah Cadogen beside him.
I think this is a portrait of Louisa’s brother Charles, 3rd Duke of Richmond.
King Charles I, and below, a mistress of King Charles II, Louise Renée de Penancoët de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth, who was the mother of Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond.
Thomas Wentworth 1st Earl of Strafford (1593-1641), Lord Deputy of Ireland 1632-1640 for King Charles I.
The website tells us about this Musical Clock by Charles Clay c.1730. “Katherine and William Conolly are credited with bringing this important musical clock to Castletown. It was made by Charles Clay, official clock-maker to His Majesty’s Board of Works in London. It is the only clock of its kind known to be in Ireland and its sweet chime can be heard throughout the enfilade.”

The Brown Study is at one end of this enfilade of rooms. The website describes it:

The Brown Study with its wood-panelled walls, tall oak doors, corner chimney-piece, built-in desk and vaulted ceiling is decorated as it was in the 1720s when the house was first built. This room was used as a bedroom in the late nineteenth century and then as a breakfast parlour in the early twentieth century.

Between the windows is a piece of the ‘Volunteer fabric’. Printed on a mixture of linen and cotton in Harpur’s Mills in nearby Leixlip, it depicts the review of the Leinster Volunteers in the Phoenix Park in 1782. Thomas Conolly was active in the Volunteer leadership in both Counties Derry and Kildare. The Volunteers were a local militia force established during the American War of Independence to defend Ireland from possible French invasion while the regular troops were in America. They were later linked to the Patriot party in the Irish House of Commons led by Henry Grattan and to their campaigns for political reform.

Brown Study, Castletown House, Celbridge, Co Kildare, photograph by Sonder Visuals 2022 for Failte Ireland.
The Brown Study. Jonathan Swift portrait, and King William III.
The ‘Volunteer fabric’. Printed on a mixture of linen and cotton in Harpur’s Mills in nearby Leixlip, it depicts the review of the Leinster Volunteers in the Phoenix Park in 1782.
Dublin Volunteers on College Green, 1779, by Francis Wheatley.
Key to the Dublin Volunteers on College Green, 1779 by Francis Wheatley. In the centre facing forward is the Duke of Leinster. I found it odd to see that James Napper Tandy is one of the Volunteers pictured, since I know he is famous for being a rebel, along with Edward FitzGerald. It turns out that James Napper Tandy was expelled from the Irish Volunteers in 1780 because he proposed the expulsion of the Duke of Leinster! Tandy went on to help to form the United Irishmen, along with Theobald Wolf Tone.
Edward Fitzgerald (1763-1798). He fought with the British side in the American War of Independence but was injured and as he recuperated with the help of his servant, his sympathies turned to those fighting for Independence from the British. He continued this fight in Ireland, joining the United Irishmen. He was imprisoned and died in prison, his last visitor being his aunt Louisa Conolly.
Our guide showed us a photograph of the Brown study in the time of the Conolly Carew family, when they struggled with the upkeep of the house.

Mark Bence-Jones continues: “The doing-up of the house was largely supervised by Lady Louisa, and two of the rooms bear her especial stamp: the print room, which she and her sister, Lady Sarah Napier made ca. 1775; and the splendid long gallery on the first floor, which she had decorated with wall paintings in the Pompeian manner by Thomas Riley 1776.

The website tells us about the Print Room, completed in 1769: “More than any other room in Castletown, the Print Room bears the imprint of Lady Louisa, who assiduously collected, cut out, and arranged individual prints, frames and decorations. The prints were glued on panels of off-white painted paper which was later attached to the walls on battens covered with cloth. Lady Louisa thus created an intimate, highly individual room which has survived changing tastes and fashions and is now the only fully intact eighteenth-century print room in Ireland.”

The Print Room, Castletown House, June 2015.

Print rooms were fashionable in the 18th century – ladies would collect their favourite prints and paste the walls with them. Prints featured include Le Bas, Rembrandt and Teniers, the actor David Garrick and Sarah Cibber, Louisa’s sister Sarah, Charles I and Charles II as a boy, with whom Louisa shared a bloodline.

The room was later used as a billiards room, and this helped inadvertedly to save the prints, as our guide told us, as the smoke from their pipes helped to protect against silverfish insects which eat wallpaper.

The print room, central picture of Louisa’s sister Sarah Lennox, who married first Thomas Charles Bunbury 6th Baronet, then George Napier.
Sarah Lennox was at first expected to marry King George III. His advisors dissuaded him, and so she married Thomas Charles Bunbury 6th Baronet. However, she left him to elope with a lover, Wililam Gordon with whom she had a daughter. He abandoned her, however, and she was left in disgrace, moving to her brother’s family home. She was finally allowed to divorce, and she married George Napier, and they moved to Celbridge.
Many of the prints reflect fashionable cultural figures at the time that Louisa made the print room. Above the chimneypiece is David Garrick, an English actor, playwright and theatre manager. Louisa loved the theatre. A small temple in the grounds of Castletown is dedicated to actress Sarah Siddons.

Next to the Print Room is the State Bedroom. The website tells us:

In the 1720s, when the house was first laid out, this room, along with the rooms either side, probably formed William Conolly’s bedroom suite. It was intended that he would receive guests in the morning while sitting up in bed or being dressed in the manner of the French court at Versailles. In the nineteenth century, the room was converted into a library and the mock leather Victorian wall paper dates from this time. Sadly, the Castletown library was dispersed in the 1960s and today the furniture reflects the room’s original use.

The library at Castletown House. Pub Orig Country Life 22/08/1936 
Image Number: 873961  
Publication Date: 22/08/1936  
Volume: LXXX
Page: 196 
Photographer: A.E. Henson.
The State Bedroom, Castletown House, June 2015.
State Bedroom, 2022.
Harriet St. Lawrence (d. 1830), daughter of William 2nd Earl of Howth. She married Arthur French St. George (1780-1844). Olivia Emily Ussher-St. George married William Robert Fitzgerald, 2nd Duke of Leinster, the son of Emily, Louisa’s sister.

Next to the State Bedroom is The Healy Room: “This room originally served as a dressing room or closet attached to the adjoining State Bedroom. It was used as a small sitting room and later became Major Edward Conolly’s bedroom in the mid-twentieth century, as it was one of the few rooms that could be kept warm in winter. It is now known as the Healy room after the pictures of the Castletown horses by the Irish artist Robert Healy (d.1771).”

Upstairs has more bedrooms, and the beautiful Long Gallery. A corridor overlooks the Great Hall.

Corridor overlooking the Great Hall, below the railings on the left.
The door on the left enters the Long Gallery.

To one side of the Stair Hall upstairs is Lady Kildare’s Room, named after Lady Louisa’s sister Emily, Countess of Kildare and later Duchess of Leinster, who had raised Louisa and the two younger sisters Sarah and Cecilia at nearby Carton House after their parents’ death. Currently being renovated, in the past the room housed the Berkeley Costume Collection. Made in France, Italy, and England, the dresses on display consist of rich embroidered bodices and full skirts made from silk and gold thread.

Costumes from the Berkeley Costume Collection, in Lady Kildare’s Room, 2017.

Across the upstairs East Corridor from Lady Kildare’s room is the Blue Bedroom. The website tells us that the Blue Bedroom provides a fine example of an early Victorian bedroom. Like the Boudoir, it forms part of an apartment with two adjoining dressing rooms, one of which was upgraded into a bathroom with sink and bathtub. The principal bedrooms, used by the family and honoured guests, were on this floor. Bedrooms on the second floor were also used for guests and for children, while the servants slept in the basement. This room has a lovely pink canopied bed, but we did not see the room when we visited in 2022.

At the front of the house on the other side of the Great Hall upstairs are the Boudoir, and Lady Louisa’s Bedroom, and across the West Corridor upstairs, the Pastel Room. The website tells us:

The Boudoir and the adjoining two rooms formed Lady Louisa’s personal apartment. The Boudoir served as a private sitting room for Louisa and subsequent ladies of the house. The painted ceiling, dado rail and window shutters possibly date from the late eighteenth century and were restored in the 1970s by artist Philippa Garner. The wall panels, or grotesques, after Raphael date from the early nineteenth century and formerly hung in the Long Gallery. Amongst the items inside the built-in glass cabinet are pieces of glass and china featuring the Conolly crest.

In the adjoining room, Lady Louisa’s Bedroom, OPW’s conservation architects have left exposed the walls to offer visitors a glimpse of the different historic layers in the room, from the original brick walls, supported by trusses, to wooden panelling to fragments of whimsical printed wall paper that once embellished the room.

The Boudoir, October 2022.
The Boudoir, Castletown House, July 2017. The website tells us about the writing bureau, Irish-made around 1760: A George III mahogany cabinet with dentilled-scrolled broken pediment carved with rosettes. Throughout her life, Lady Louisa maintained a regular correspondence with her sisters and brothers in Ireland and England, and it is easy to picture her writing her epistles at this bureau and filing the letters she received in the initialled pigeonholes and drawers. A handwritten transcription of her letters to her siblings can be accessed in the OPW-Maynooth University Archive and Research Centre in Castletown. 
The writing bureau has no “J” or “U” as they are not in the Latin alphabet.
The Boudoir, October 2022. In this photograph we can see the false door, with glass panels, which had previously been covered by Lady Louisa’s writing bureau.
The wall panels, or grotesques, after Raphael date from the early nineteenth century and formerly hung in the Long Gallery.
The painted ceiling, dado rail and window shutters possibly date from the late eighteenth century and were restored in the 1970s by artist Philippa Garner.
Castletown House, June 2015.
From the photograph album of Henry Shaw.
Castletown House, June 2015, Lady Louisa’s Bedroom, OPW’s conservation architects have left exposed the walls to offer visitors a glimpse of the different historic layers in the room, from the original brick walls, supported by trusses, to wooden panelling to fragments of whimsical printed wall paper that once embellished the room
Castletown House, July 2017.
In 2022, Louisa’s bedroom now features a tremendous bed.
I have yet to identify this portrait. It looks remarkably similar to Lady Anne Conolly (née Wentworth) (1713-1797) Attributed to Anthony Lee, Irish, fl.1724-1767, and she is even wearing the same dress. Maybe the artist did two portraits.

Across the West Corridor upstairs is the Pastel Room. The Corridor has more portraits.

Charles I and Henrietta Maria.
William Robert FitzGerald (1748-1804), 2nd Duke of Leinster, son of Louisa’s sister Emily.

The Pastel Room, the website tells us, was originally an anteroom to the adjoining Long Gallery. It was used as a school room in the nineteenth century and is now known as the Pastel Room because of the fine collection of pastel portraits. The smaller pastels surrounding the fireplace include a pair of portraits of Thomas and Louisa Conolly by the leading Irish pastel artist of the eighteenth century, Hugh Douglas Hamilton.

The small medallion in the centre is Lady Louisa by Hugh Douglas Hamilton. The one of the two girls on the right is of Louisa Staples and her sister, by Hugh Douglas Hamilton. William James Conolly (1712-1754) was the nephew of William Conolly who built Castletown, and he inherited the estate. He was the father of Thomas Conolly (1734-1803). Thomas’s sister Harriet married John Staples, and their daughter was Louisa Staples. Louisa married Thomas Pakenham (1757-1836). It was their son, Edward Michael (1786-1849) who inherited Castletown, and added Conolly to his surname, to become Pakenham Conolly.
The pastel on the top left is Thomas Conolly (1734-1803), Louisa’s husband.
The parents of Louisa and Emily: Sarah Cadogen (1705-1751) and Charles Lennox (1701-1750) 2nd Duke of Richmond.
Pastel of Lady Louisa Lennox, from the circle of Geoge Knapton, c.1747, it depicts Lady Louisa at the tender age of four. Louisa was the daughter of Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond, and his wife, Lady Sarah Cadogan. Her parents died when she was eight years old, and both she and her two younger sisters, Sarah and Cecilia, went to live with their older sister Emily, Countess of Kildare, in Ireland.

From the Pastel Room, we enter the Long Gallery. The website tells us about this room:

Originally laid out as a picture gallery with portraits of William Conolly’s patrons on display, its function and layout changed under Lady Louisa. In 1760, she had the original doorways to the upper east and west corridors removed, replacing them with the central doorway above the Entrance Hall. The new doorcases as well as new fireplaces at either end were designed by leading English architect, Sir William Chambers, while the actual execution was overseen by Simon Vierpyl. The Pompeian style decoration on the walls dates from the 1770s and was inspired by Montfaucon’s publications on the excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum and by Raphael’s designs for the Vatican. The murals were the work of an English artist and engraver Charles Ruben Riley (1752–98). The Long Gallery became a space for informal entertaining and was full of life and activity as the following excerpt from one of Louisa’s letters suggests: “Our gallery was in great vogue, and really is a charming room for there is such a variety of occupations in it, that people cannot be formal in it. Lord Harcourt was writing, some of us played at whist, others at billiards, Mrs Gardiner at the harpsichord, others at chess, others at reading and supper at one end. I have seldom seen twenty people in a room so easily disposed of.”

Upstairs, The Long Gallery, Castletown House, June 2015.
The gallery at Castletown House, as decorated for Lady Louisa Conolly circa 1790. Pub Orig Country Life 22/08/1936 
Image Number: 873951  
Publication Date: 22/08/1936  
Volume: LXXX
Page: 196 
Photographer: A.E. Henson.
The Long Gallery in the 1880s, photograph from the album of Henry Shaw.

The Long Gallery, description from Archiseek:

“…measuring almost 80 by 23 feet, with its heavy ceiling compartments and frieze dates from the 1720s. Originally there were four doors in the room and the walls were panelled in stucco similar to the entrance Hall. In 1776 the plaster panels and swags were removed but traces of them were found behind the painted canvas panels when they were taken down for cleaning during recent conservation work.” 

The Long Gallery: its heavy ceiling compartments and frieze dates from the 1720s and is by Edward Lovett Pearce. It was painted and gilded in the 1770s.

Archiseek continues: “In the mid 1770s the room was redecorated in the Pompeian manner by two English artists, Charles Reuben Riley (c.1752-1798) and Thomas Ryder (1746-1810). Tom and Louisa’s portraits are at either end of the room over the chimney-pieces and the end piers are decorated with cyphers of the initals of their families: The portrait of Lady Louisa is after Reynolds (the original is in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard) and that of Tom after Anton Raphael Mengs (the original is in the National Gallery of Ireland).

The portrait of Lady Louisa is after Reynolds (the original is in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard. The fireplaces installed by Louisa at either end of the room were designed by leading English architect, Sir William Chambers, while the actual execution was overseen by Simon Vierpyl. It contains a Wedgewood encaustic centrepiece.
The portrait of Tom is in the style of Anton Raphael Mengs (the original is in the National Gallery of Ireland).
The new doorcases were designed by leading English architect, Sir William Chambers, while the actual execution was overseen by Simon Vierpyl. Thomas Conolly imported the statue, a seventeenth century statue of Diana, in the centre, supposedly smuggling it home in a coffin! Above is a lunette of Aurora, the godess of the dawn, derived from a ceiling decoration by Guido Reni, the seventeenth century Bolognese painter. 

Archiseek tells us: “The subjects of the wall paintings were mostly taken from engraving in d’Hancarville’s Antiquites Etrusques, Greques, et Romaines (1766-67) and de Montfaucon’s L’antiquite expliquee et representee en figures (1719). The busts of the poets and philosophers are placed on gilded brackets designed by Chambers. In the central niche stands a seventeenth-century statue of Diana. Above is a lunette of Aurora, the godess of the dawn, derived from a ceiling decoration by Guido Reni, the seventeenth century Bolognese painter. 

The three glass chandeliers were made for the room in Venice and the four large sheets of mirrored glass came from France. In the 1770s the Long Gallery was used as a living room and was filled with exquisite furniture. Originally in the room, there were a pair of side tables attributed to John Linnell, with marble tops attributed to Bossi, a pair of commodes by Pierre Langlois, that were purchased in London for Lady Louisa by Lady Caroline Fox and a pair of bookcases at either end of the room. 

In 1989 major conservation work was carried out on the Long Gallery. The wall paintings that had been flaking for many years were conserved. The original eighteenth-century gilding has been cleaned and the chandeliers restored. The project was funded by the American Ireland Fund, the Irish Georgian Society and by private donations.

A set of three 18th-century Venetian coloured and plain glass 24-light chandeliers, decorated with flower heads and moulded finials. These three Murano glass chandeliers are unique in Ireland and rare even in Italy. It is believed that Lady Louisa ordered them from Venice between 1775 and 1778 for the redecorated Long Gallery. The chandeliers were wired for electricity in the mid-1990s; they were cleaned and restored by a Venetian firm of historic glass-makers in 2009. 

Mark Bence-Jones tells us: “The gallery, and the other rooms on the garden front, face along a two mile vista to the Conolly Folly, an obelisk raised on arches which was built by Speaker Conolly’s widow 1740, probably to the design of Richard Castle. The ground on which it stands did not then belong to the Conollys, but to their neighbour, the Earl of Kildare, whose seat, Carton, is nearby. The folly continued to be a part of the Carton estate until 1968, when it was bought by an American benefactress and presented to Castletown. At the end of another vista, the Speaker’s widow built a remarkable corkscrew-shaped structure for storing grain, known as the Wonderful Barn. One of the entrances to the demesne has a Gothic lodge, from a design published by Batty Langley 1741. The principal entrance gates are from a design by Chambers.

The Obelisk, or Conolly Folly, was reputedly built to give employment during an episode of famine. It was restored by the Irish Georgian Society in 1960.

Obelisk, Castletown, attributed to Richard Castle, March 2022. Desmond Guinness’s wife Mariga, who played a great role in the Irish Georgian Society, is buried below.
Obelisk, Castletown, March 2022.
Obelisk, Castletown, March 2022.
The Wonderful Barn, Castletown by Robert French, Lawrence Photographic Collection NLI, flickr constant commons.
The Wonderful Barn, March 2022, created in 1743.
The Wonderful Barn, March 2022.
The Wonderful Barn, March 2022.
When we went to find the Wonderful Barn, we discovered there is not just one but in fact three Wonderful Barns!
The smaller Wonderful Barn.

As Bence-Jones tells us, Castletown was inherited by Tom Conolly’s nephew, Edward Michael Pakenham, who took the name of Conolly, to become Pakenham Conolly. Thomas and Louisa had no children, and Thomas’s sister Harriet married John Staples, and their daughter was Louisa Staples. Louisa married Thomas Pakenham (1757-1836). It was their son, Edward Michael (1786-1849) who inherited Castletown.

The house then passed to his son, another Thomas Conolly (1823-1876). He was an adventourous character who travelled widely and kept a diary. Stephen and I recently attended a viewing of portraits of Thomas and his wife Sarah Eliza, which are to be sold by Bonhams. His diary of his trip to the United States during the time of the Civil War is being published.

Thomas Conolly (1823-1876), painting by William Osbourne.
Sarah Eliza Conolly, wife of Thomas.

Sarah Eliza was the daughter of a prosperous Celbridge paper mill owner, Joseph Shaw. Her substantial dowry helped to fund her husband’s adventurous lifestyle! A photograph album which belonged to her brother Henry Shaw, of a visit to Castletown, was rescued from the rubble of his home in London when it was destroyed by a German bomb in 1944. Sadly, he died in the bombing. The photograph album is on display in Castletown.

Thomas Conolly (1823-1876) and his wife Sarah Eliza.

Sarah Eliza and Thomas had four children. Thomas, born in 1870, died in the Boer War in 1900. William died at the age of 22. Edward Michael (Ted), born in 1874, lived until his death in Castletown, in 1956. Their daughter Catherine married Gerald Shapland Carew, 5th Baron Carew, the grandson of Robert Carew, 1st Baron Carew of Castleboro House, County Wexford (today an impressive ruin), and son of Shapland Francis Carew and his wife Hester Georgiana Browne, daughter of Howe Peter Browne, 2nd Marquess of Sligo.

Sarah Eliza sits reading while her daughter Catherine descends the stairs.
Photographs of the Conolly family. Thomas Conolly who died in the Boer War is pictured on the left in the striped cap.
View of Castletown House from the meadow from Henry Shaw’s album.
Sarah Eliza with Catherine and her children seated at the table in the Dining Room. William Francis in foreground.

Catherine’s son, William Francis Conolly-Carew (1905-1994), 6th Baron Carew, inherited Casteltown, and added Conolly to his surname.

Lord William Francis Conolly-Carew relaxing in the Green Drawing Room in the 1950s.
The grounds around Castletown are beautiful and one can walk along the Liffey.
In front is a photograph of William Francis Conolly-Carew, 6th Baron Carew.
The Round House and the Gate Lodge (below) at the gates of Castletown can be rented for accommodation from the Irish Landmark Trust – see my Places to visit and stay in County Kildare page https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/04/27/places-to-visit-and-to-stay-leinster-kildare-kilkenny-laois/.

3. Maynooth Castle, County Kildare:

Maynooth Castle, photograph by Gail Connaughton 2020, for Faitle Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

General information: 01 628 6744, maynoothcastle@opw.ie

From the OPW website https://heritageireland.ie/visit/places-to-visit/maynooth-castle/:

This majestic stone castle was founded in the early thirteenth century. It became the seat of power for the FitzGeralds, the earls of Kildare, as they emerged as one of the most powerful families in Ireland. Garret Mór, known as the Great Earl of Kildare, governed Ireland in the name of the king from 1487 to 1513.

Maynooth Castle was one of the largest and richest Geraldine dwellings. The original keep, begun around 1200, was one of the largest of its kind in Ireland. Inside, the great hall was a nerve centre of political power and culture.

Only 30 kilometres from Dublin, Maynooth Castle occupies a deceptively secluded spot in the centre of the town, with well-kept grounds and plenty of greenery. There is a captivating exhibition in the keep on the history of the castle and the family.

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

[2] https://heritageireland.ie/visit/places-to-visit/altamont-gardens/

[3] p. 8, Living Legacies: Ireland’s National Historic Properties in the Care of the OPW. Government Publications, Dublin 2, 2018.

[4] p. xiii, Jennings, Marie-Louise and Gabrielle M. Ashford (eds.), The Letters of Katherine Conolly, 1707-1747. Irish Manuscripts Commission 2018. The editors reference TCD, MS 3974/121-125; Capel Street and environs, draft architectural conservation area (Dublin City Council) and Olwyn James, Capel Street, a study of the past, a vision of the future (Dublin, 2001), pp. 9, 13, 15-17.

[5] http://kildarelocalhistory.ie/celbridge See also my entry on Castletown House in my entry for OPW properties in Kildare, https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/02/21/office-of-public-works-properties-leinster-carlow-kildare-kilkenny/

[6] https://archiseek.com/2011/1770s-castletown-house-celbridge-co-kildare/

[7] p. 75. 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.

[8] p. 129. Great Irish Houses. Forewards by Desmond FitzGerald, Desmond Guinness. IMAGE Publications, 2008. 

[9] https://castletown.ie/collection-highlights/