Places to visit and stay in Leinster: Wexford and Wicklow

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

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

€ = up to approximately €150 per night for two people sharing;

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

€€€ – over €250 per night for two.

Whole house accommodation is for more than 10 people.

Wexford:

1. Ballyhack Castle, Co. Wexford – open to public OPW

2. Ballymore, Camolin, Co Wexford – museum http://www.ballymorehistoricfeatures.com

3. Berkeley Forest House, County Wexford

4. Clougheast Cottage, Carne, Co. Wexford – section 482

5. Enniscorthy Castle, County Wexford

6. Ferns Castle, Wexford – open to public, OPW

7. Johnstown Castle, County Wexford maintained by the Irish Heritage Trust

8. Kilcarbry Mill Engine House, Sweetfarm, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford – section 482

9. Kilmokea Country Manor & Gardens, Great Island, Campile, New Ross, Co. Wexford – section 482

10. Loftus Hall, County Wexford

11. Newtownbarry House, Wexford

12. Tintern Abbey, Ballycullane, County Wexford – concessionary entrance to IGS members, OPW

13. Wells House, County Wexford

14. Wilton Castle, Bree, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford – section 482

15. Woodbrook House, Killanne, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford – section 482

16. Woodville House, New Ross, Co. Wexford – section 482

Places to Stay, County Wexford

1. Artramont House, Castlebridge, Co Wexford – B&B 

2. Ballytrent House, Broadway, Co Wexford

3. Bellfry at Old Boley, County Wexford

4. Berkeley Forest, New Ross, Co Wexford – B&B? 

5. Butlerstown Castle, Tomhaggard, Co Wexford – A ruin, coach house accommodation  

6. Clonganny House, Wexford – accommodation 

7. Dunbrody Park, Arthurstown, County Wexford – accommodation 

8. Hyde Park House (or Tara House),Gorey, co wexford- accommodation 

9. Kilmokea Country Manor & Gardens, Kilmokea, Great Island, Campile, New Ross, Co. Wexford  – accommodation 

10. Killiane Castle, County Wexford

11. Marlfield, Gorey, Co Wexford – accommodation 

12. Monart, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford – 5* hotel 

13. Rathaspeck Manor “doll’s house” gate lodge, County Wexford and the Manor B&B

14. Riverbank House Hotel, The Bridge, Wexford, Ireland Y35 AH33

15. Rosegarland House, Wellingtonbridge, County Wexford – accommodation 

16. Wells House, County Wexford – self catering cottages

17. Wilton castle, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford

18. Woodbrook, Killane, Co Wexford – accommodation and 482 

19. Woodlands Country House, Killinierin, County Wexford B&B https://www.woodlandscountryhouse.com

20. Woodville House, New Ross, Co Wexford – 482 

Whole House rental County Wexford:

1. Ballinkeele, whole house rental:

2. Horetown House, County Wexford 

 Wicklow:

1. Altidore Castle, Kilpeddar, Greystones, Co. Wicklow – section 482

2. Avondale House, County Wicklow – closed until further notice.

3. Ballymurrin House, Kilbride, Wicklow, Co. Wicklow – section 482

4. Castle Howard, Avoca, Co. Wicklow – section 482

5. Charleville, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow – section 482

6. Corke Lodge, Co Wicklow – gardens open to visitors 

7. Dower House, Rossanagh, Ashford, Co Wicklow – gardens open by appointment 

8. Festina Lente Gardens, Old Connaught Avenue, Bray, Wicklow, IE 

9. Greenan More, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow – section 482

10. Huntingbrook, – gardens open to public https://www.huntingbrookgardens.com

11. Killruddery House & Gardens, Southern Cross Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow – section 482

12. Kiltimon House, Newcastle, Co. Wicklow – section 482

13. Kingston House, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow – section 482

14. Knockanree Garden, Avoca, Co Wicklow – section 482, garden only

15. 1 Martello Terrace, Strand Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow – section 482

16. Mount Usher Gardens, Ashford, Co. Wicklow – section 482, garden only

17. Powerscourt House & Gardens, Powerscourt Estate, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow – section 482

18. Russborough, The Albert Beit Foundation, Blessington, Co. Wicklow – section 482

19. Tinode, Blessington, Co Wicklow – June Blake’s Garden, open from Springtime 2022 

20. Trudder Grange, Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow – gardens open, by appointment only,

21. Warbel Bank gardens, Newtownmountkennedy, Wicklow 

Places to stay, County Wicklow:

1. Ballyknocken House, Ashford, County Wicklow

2. Ballymurrin House, Kilbride, Co Wicklow – 482 and Airbnb 

3. Brook Lodge and Macreddin Village, County Wicklow

4. Cronroe, Ashford, Co Wicklow – Bel Air Hotel

5. Croney Byrne, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow – courtyard accommodation

6. June Blake’s Garden, Turkey House and Cow House, Tinode, Blessington, Co Wicklow – June Blake’s Garden 

7. Rathsallagh, co Wicklow – accommodation €€

8. Summerhill House Hotel, County Wicklow

9. Tinakilly House, Rathnew, Co Wicklow – – country house hotel

10. Tulfarris, Blessington, Co Wicklow - hotel 

11. Wicklow Head Lighthouse, Dunbur Head, County Wicklow https://www.irishlandmark.com/property/wicklow-head-lighthouse/

12. Gate Lodge, Woodenbridge, Avoca, County Wicklow €€

13. Woodstock, Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow (Druid’s Glen hotel and golf club) 

Wexford:

1. Ballyhack Castle, Co. Wexford – open to public OPW

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

2. Ballymore, Camolin, Co Wexford – museum http://www.ballymorehistoricfeatures.com

The website tells us:

Ballymore is an old family property located away from main routes in a particularly scenic part of North Wexford. It retains many features which have survived from past periods of occupation in an attractive setting of mature trees, ordered landscape and views of the surrounding countryside.

A large scale map indicates theroute visitors are requested to follow. This route allows a leisurely ramble around several interesting features including the tea room, the museum, art gallery and display of old farming equipment in part of the farmyard. The residence itself is private and not open to the public.

In the surrounding grounds you will find the church and ancient graveyard, holy well, former site of a 1798 rebel camp and the 14th century Norman castle ruins, which now is a simple labyrinth.

The present church was built in 1869 on the site of a medieval building, of which nothing now survives except a carved wooden door lintel which can be seen at the museum.

The holy well is covered completely by a large boulder. This was done some centuries ago to discourage its continued use for prayer and devotion.

The castle mound is all that remains of the 14th century motte built by Norman settlers. The ruins of the stone-built tower were pulled down in the 19th century.

The large reconstructed greenhouse is the setting for the tea room. 

Its design copies the original greenhouse built around 1820, along with the walled garden behind it.

The museum and display area open out from the small courtyard. The museum itself is in a large converted hayloft in a period farmyard building. The contents of the museum are from the family home and farmyard. They illustrate many different aspects of earlier occupation and activity. Another feature is the old water wheel now on display in the same farm building.

The old dairy room will take you back in time. It adjoins the 1798 Room, containing a display of items from this period and from the house and family records. The further display area includes pieces of older farm equipment and hand tools used when the horse was the only source of motive power.

The art gallery is located below the museum in what was the farm stables. It displays a selection of paintings and drawings of local scenes and activities by the much admired artist Phoebe Donovan.

Take one of our exclusive tours, which encompasses many features including the museum of local and family history spanning over 300 years, dairy and farming display, 1798 memorabilia room and the Phoebe Donovan art gallery.

Venture out into the surrounding grounds and you will find the ruins of a Norman castle dating back to the 14th century, Ballymore Church and graveyard (1869), and a former 1798 rebel camp site. You may even spot a buzzard or some of the other varied wildlife in the area.

Finally, relax and enjoy a beverage in our greenhouse tea room.

Ballymore Historic Features is also part of the Wexford Heritage Trail.”

3. Berkeley Forest House, County Wexford http://berkeleyforesthouse.com

This website tells us:

Berkeley Forest is unusual as a period house as it has a bright and uncluttered look with a strong Scandinavian flavour -painted floors, hand stencilled wallpaper and bedcoverings designed by artist Ann Griffin-Bernstorff who lives and works here during part of the year.

The house offers a beguiling experience. With a beautiful faded brick walled garden with a terrace, summer house and an outdoor fireplace, it is a delight throughout the day.

In easy reach of the Wexford beaches to the South and East and the picturesque villages of Inistioge, Thomastown and Graiguenamanagh, the cities of Kilkenny (Medieval) and Waterford (Viking) are also nearby. Just off the N30, less than 2 hours from Dublin Airport, 45 mins from Kilkenny, 20 mins from Wexford or Waterford, the house is perfectly situated to visit a host of interesting historical, cultural or sporting amenities, or to hide away in complete peace and quiet.

The house was once the home of the family of 18th century philosopher George Berkeley.
It also houses a 19th Costume museum which was created by Ann Griffin-Bernstorff and is available to costume and fashion students on request (her original 18th century Costume Collection is now to be seen at Rathfarnham Castle in Dublin) She is also the designer of the internationally acclaimed Ros Tapestry.

The property consists of the main house, lawns and gardens; beyond that are pasture and woodland, some mature, some more recently planted; as well as original farm buildings. All of which ideal for exploring and wandering. There is a beautifully proportioned upper drawing room (28ftx18ft) which is suitable for music rehearsal, fine dining and specialist conferences.”

4. Clougheast Cottage, Carne, Co. Wexford – section 482

contact: Jacinta Denieffe
Tel: 086-1234322
Open: Jan 10-31, May 1-31, August 13-21, 9am-1pm Fee: €5

5. Enniscorthy Castle, County Wexford http://enniscorthycastle.ie

Enniscorthy castle, Co Wexford_Courtesy Patrick Brown 2014, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [1]

The website tells us:

Enniscorthy Castle, in the heart of Enniscorthy town, was originally built in the 13th century, and has been ‘home’ to Norman knights, English armies, Irish rebels and prisoners, and local  merchant families.  Why not visit our dungeon to see the rare medieval wall art –The Swordsman, or our battlements at the top of the castle to marvel at the amazing views of Vinegar Hill Battlefield, Enniscorthy town, and the sights, flora and  fauna of the  surrounding countryside. Enniscorthy Castle explores the development of the Castle and town from its earliest Anglo-Norman origins, with a special focus on the Castle as a family home. Visitors can also view the ‘Enniscorthy Industries ‘exhibition on the ground floor from the early 1600’s onwards when Enniscorthy began to grow and prosper as a market town. Visitors can explore the work of the renowned Irish furniture designer and architect Eileen Gray (born in 1878 just outside the town). The roof of the castle is also accessible, with spectacular views of the surrounding buildings, Vinegar Hill, and countryside. Note that access to the roof is only possible when accompanied by a staff member. Tours of the Castle are self guided. Last admission is 30 minutes before closing. Our facilities include: craft and gift shop, toilets and baby changing area, wheelchair access to all floors (including roof) , and visitor information point (tourist office for town). We look forward to welcoming you to our town’s most public ‘home’.

Enniscorthy castle, Co Wexford_Courtesy Patrick Brown 2014, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [1]

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

p. 121. “(Wallop, Portsmouth, E/IFR) A C13 four-towered keep, like the ruined castles at Carlow and Ferns, restored at various dates and rising above the surrounding rooftops of the town of Enniscorthy like a French chateau-fort, with its near row of tourelles. Once the home of Edmund Spenser, the poet. Now a museum.” [2]

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us that it is a two-bay three-stage over basement castle, built 1588, on a rectangular plan with single-bay full-height engaged drum towers to corners on circular plans. [3]

Enniscorthy, Co Wexford_Courtesy Celtic Routes 2019, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [1])
Enniscorthy, Co Wexford_Courtesy Celtic Routes 2019, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [1])
Enniscorthy, Co Wexford_Courtesy Celtic Routes 2020, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [1])

The website tells us more about the history of the castle:

Maud de Quency (granddaughter of the famous Strongbow) marries Philip de Prendergast (son of Anglo-Norman Knight Maurice de Prendergast) and they reside at Enniscorthy Castle from 1190 to his death in 1229. From then until the 1370’s, their descendants, and other Anglo-Norman families rule the Duffry and reside in Enniscorthy Castle.

In 1375: The fief (a defined area of land or territory) of the Duffry  and Enniscorthy Castle are forcefully retaken by Art MacMurrough Kavanagh who regains his ancestral lands. This marks a time of Gaelic Irish revival. The MacMurrough Kavanagh dynasty rule until they eventually surrender the Castle and lands to Lord Leonard Grey in 1536. At this time Enniscorthy Castle is reported be in a ruined condition.

Enniscorthy, Co Wexford_Courtesy Celtic Routes 2020, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [1])

In 1569, The Butlers of Kilkenny and the Earl of Kildare lead a raid on Enniscorthy town on a fair day, killing numerous civilians and burning the castle. In 1581, The poet Edmund Spenser leases the Castle but never lives in it. Historians speculate that this was because Spenser feared the MacMurrough Kavanaghs.

In 1585, Henry Wallop receives ownership of the Duffry by Royal Appointment. He exploits the dense forests (the Duffry, An Dubh Tír in Irish, meaning “The Black Country”) surrounding Enniscorthy which brings considerable wealth to the town, and funds the rebuilding of Enniscorthy Castle which we see standing today. Enniscorthy begins to rapidly develop as a plantation town.

1649: Oliver Cromwell arrives in Co. Wexford. Enniscorthy Castle is beseiged by his forces; its defenders surrender, leaving it intact. In December of the same year the Castle once again fell to the Irish (under Captain Daniel Farrell), but two months later Colonel Cooke, the Governor of Wexford, reoccupied the castle.

1898: The Castle is leased by Patrick J. Roche from the Earl of Portsmouth. P.J. Roche restores and extends the Castle making it into a residence for his son Henry J. Roche.

1951: Roche family leaves.

1962: Castle opens as Wexford County Museum.

Enniscorthy, Co Wexford_Courtesy Celtic Routes 2020, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [1])

6. Ferns Castle, Wexford – open to public, OPW

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

8. Johnstown Castle, County Wexford maintained by the Irish Heritage Trust

Johnstown Castle, County Wexford. The house was designed by Daniel Robertson (d. 1849). It envelops a seventeenth-century house (perhaps by Thomas Hopper) [4] remodelled (1810-4) by James Pain (1779-1877) of Limerick.
Garden front, Johnstown Castle, County Wexford: The garden front has two round turrets, a three-sided central bow with tracery windows.
Front of Johnstown Castle, with porte-cochere projection at the end of an entrance corridor.
The entrance front is dominated by a single frowning tower with a porte-cochere projecting at the end of an entrance corridor and a Gothic conservatory at one end.

An information board in the museum tells us that Geoffrey and Maurice Esmonde were the estate’s first owners, who arrived as part of the Anglo-Norman invasion in 1169. Geoffrey Esmonde built the original Johnstown Castle, which was a plain and modest tower house. His son Maurice built a second tower house at Rathlannon Castle, the remains of which are on the grounds to this day.

The Esmondes lost their lands during the invasion of Oliver Cromwell, as they were Catholics. Lieutenant Colonel John Overstreet was granted Johnstown Castle estate. The land passed through several hands until acquired by John Grogan in 1692. The Grogan family and their descendants lived at Johnstown Castle until 1945 when it was handed over to the state.

Mark Bence-Jones tells us about Johnstown Castle (1988):

p. 161. “(Esmonde, bt/PB; Grogan-Morgan; LG1863; Forbes, Grandard, E/PB; FitzGerald, sub Leinster, D/PB) An old tower house of the Esmondes, engulfed in an impressively turreted, battlmented and machicolated castle of gleaming silver-grey ashlar built ca 1840 for Hamilton Knox Grogan Morgan [1808-54], MP, to the design of Daniel Robertson [d. 1849], of Kilkenny. The entrance front is dominated by a single frowning tower with a porte-cochere projecting at the end of an entrance corridor and a Gothic conservatory at one end. The garden front has two round turrets, a three-sided central bow with tracery windows. Lower wing with polygonal tower. The castle stands in a lush setting of lawns and exotic trees and shrubs, overlooking a lake with has a Gothic tower rising from its waters and a terrace lined with statues on its far side. Impressive castellated entrance archways facing each other on either side of the road. After the death of H.K. Grogan-Morgan, Johnstown passed to his widow, who married as her second husband, Rt Hon Sir Thomas Esmonde, 9th Bt, a descendent of the original owners of the old tower house. The estate afterwards went to H.K. Grogan-Morgan’s daughter, Jane, Countess of Granard [she married George Arthur Forbes (1833-1889) 7th Earl of Granard], and eventually to Lady Granard’s daughter, Lady Maurice Fitzgerald [born Adelaide Jane Frances Forbes, she married Maurice Fitzgerald son of the 4th Duke of Leinster]. It is now an agricultural institute, and the grounds are maintained as a show place. The old tower house was the home of Cornelius Grogan [1738-1798], who was unjustly executed for treason after 1798 Rebellion.” 

The entrance front is dominated by a single frowning tower with a porte-cochere projecting at the end of an entrance corridor and a Gothic conservatory at one end.
Inside the front arch of Johnstown Castle.
The Gothic conservatory in the middle.
Johnstown Castle stands in a lush setting of lawns and exotic trees and shrubs, overlooking a lake with has a Gothic tower rising from its waters and a terrace lined with statues on its far side.
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: Hamilton Knox Grogan-Morgan (1807-1854) and his family. [5]

The National Inventory describes it:

Detached three-bay three-storey over basement country house, built 1836-72, on an asymmetrical plan centred on single-bay full-height breakfront with single-bay (four-bay deep) single-storey projecting porch-cum-“porte cochère” to ground floor; five-bay three-storey Garden Front (south) with single-bay four-stage turrets on circular plans centred on single-bay full-height bow on an engaged half-octagonal plan…A country house … enveloping a seventeenth-century house remodelled (1810-4) by James Pain (1779-1877) of Limerick (DIA), confirmed by such attributes as the asymmetrical plan form centred on ‘a splendid porch…formed by beautiful Gothic arches with neat light groinings’ (Lacy 1852, 259); the construction in a blue-green rubble stone offset by glimmering Mount Leinster granite dressings not only demonstrating good quality workmanship, but also producing a sober two-tone palette; the diminishing in scale of the multipartite openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression with the principal “apartments” defined by a polygonal bow; and the battlemented turrets producing an eye-catching silhouette: meanwhile, aspects of the composition clearly illustrate the continued development or “improvement” of the country house ‘under the munificent and highly-gifted Lady Esmonde who never tires of affording employment to the skilful artisans whom she herself has trained’.”

You can see the basement on the garden front.
The clock tower side of Johnstown Castle.
Spectacular doorway arch to one side of Johnstown Castle.
The doorway arch at Johnstown Castle features a border of carved stone heads.
Carved stone heads at Johnstown Castle.
Window surround detail and tracery at Johnstown Castle.
A workman at Johnstown Castle.

We did not get to see the inside of Johnstown Castle when we visited as it was closed that day, but the National Inventory gives us pictures – and I can’t wait to visit again!

I think this is the portico corridor, Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “corridor on a rectangular plan retaining encaustic tiled floor, Gothic-style timber panelled wainscoting supporting carved timber dado rail, clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surrounds to window openings framing Gothic-style timber panelled shutters on Gothic-style timber panelled risers, and groin vaulted ceiling with carved timber ribs on portrait-detailed oak leaf corbels.” [5]
Tile floor of the corridor, Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]

The National Inventory continues:

A prolonged period of unoccupancy notwithstanding, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where encaustic tile work; the so-called “Apostles Hall” with ‘oak panelling and carving of the most costly description’ (Lacy 1852, 268); contemporary joinery ‘by poor Mooney who may be said to have lived and died in the employment of the munificent proprietor [and who was] succeeded by another native genius [named] Sinnott’ (ibid., 269); restrained chimneypieces in contrasting neo-Classical or Egyptian Revival styles; and geometric ceilings recalling the Robertson-designed Wells House (1836-45), all highlight the considerable artistic significance of the composition.

Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “top-lit triple-height “Grand Hall” on a square plan retaining tessellated “Asphaltum” tiled floor, clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surrounds to door openings framing Gothic-style timber panelled doors, arcaded galleries (upper floors) with carved timber hand rails, and fan vaulted plasterwork ceiling centred on replacement glass block-filled mass concrete dome.” [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “bow-ended dining room (south) retaining clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surround to door opening framing timber panelled door with clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surrounds to opposing window openings framing Gothic-style timber panelled shutters on Gothic-style timber panelled risers, coat-of-arms-detailed cut-veined green marble Gothic-style chimneypiece in Gothic-style timber surround, and picture railing below grape-and-vine-detailed cornice to quatrefoil-detailed compartmentalised ceiling in carved timber frame.” [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “library (south-east) retaining clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surround to door opening framing Gothic-style timber panelled door with clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surround to opposing window opening framing Gothic-style timber panelled shutters on Gothic-style timber panelled risers, Gothic-style timber bookcases centred on cut-black marble Egyptian-style chimneypiece, and picture railing below compartmentalised ceiling in carved timber frame.”[5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]

The National Inventory continues: “Furthermore, a “Terrace Garden”; a stable complex; folly-like towers and turrets overlooking an artificial lake ; a walled garden; and nearby gate lodges, all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of a largely intact estate having subsequent connections with the Right Honourable Sir Thomas Esmonde (1786-1868) [9th Baronet] and Dame Sophia Maria Esmonde (née Rowe) (1805-67) [she was first the wife of Hamilton Knox Grogan-Morgan]; and Lord Maurice FitzGerald (1852-1901) and Lady Adelaide Jane Frances FitzGerald (née Forbes) (1860-1942). NOTE: Armorial panels over the glazed-in carriageway and on the dining room chimneypiece show a coat of arms combining three bears heads couped and muzzled [Forbes] centred on a griffin sergeant [Morgan] representing the marriage of George Arthur Hastings Forbes (1833-89), seventh Earl of Granard, and Jane Colclough Morgan (1840-72) with Order of Saint Patrick motto (“QUIS SEPARABIT MDCCLXXXIII [Who Will Separate Us 1783]”) recognising the earl’s investment as a Knight of the Order of Saint Patrick (K.P.) in 1857.

A daughter of Maurice Fitzgerald and Adelaide Jane, Kathleen, married Michael Lawrence Lakin and they had two sons: Gerald Michael Lakin and Maurice Victor Lakin, the latter pictured below, the last man to privately own the castle and estate before handing it over to the state.

A daughter of Maurice Fitzgerald and Adelaide Jane, Geraldine, married Gerald More O’Ferrall.
Walled garden, Johnstown Castle, County Wexford, November 2021.
Entrance to Johnstown Castle estate, County Wexford.
The National Inventory describes this: “A tower-like gate lodge contributing positively to the group and setting values of the Johnstown Castle estate with the architectural value of the composition, one erected to a design signed (1846) by Martin Day (d. 1861) of Gallagh (DIA), confirmed by such attributes as the compact square plan form; the construction in ‘[a] fine bluish stone raised from the quarries on the demesne’ (Lacy 1852, 265-6) offset by silver-grey granite dressings demonstrating good quality workmanship; the definition of the principal “apartment” by a jettied oriel window recalling the Daniel Robertson (d.1849)-designed gate lodge at Shankill Castle, County Kilkenny; and the corbelled battlements embellishing the roofline.”
I think this is Rathlannon Castle, built by Maurice Esmonde in the 1200s.
Stable Complex, Johnstown Castle, County Wexford, November 2021.

9. Kilcarbry Mill Engine House, Sweetfarm, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford – section 482

Contact: Stephen Hegarty
Tel: 087-2854143
Open: Apr 30, May 1-13, July 25-31, Aug 1-30, Dec 12-24, 12 noon-4pm Fee: adult €10, student/OAP €5

10. Kilmokea Country Manor & Gardens, Great Island, Campile, New Ross, Co. Wexford – section 482

The main lawn at the rear of the house at Kilmokea – surrounded by perenniel borders – and some fine topiary, photograph 2014 by George Munday/Tourism Ireland. (see [1])

contact: Mark Hewlett
Tel: 086-0227799
www.kilmokea.com
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
Open: April – Oct
Gardens:

Open Apr, May, Sept, Oct, Wed-Sun, June, July, Aug, daily, 10am-5pm Fee: adult €7, OAP €6, student €5, child €4, family €20

The website tells us:

Kilmokea, on Great Island in south County Wexford, was built in 1794, on the site of an ancient monastery as the glebe house for a Church of Ireland rector. The house is a simple, neo-classical late Georgian building of two stories, roughly square in plan with a three-bay facade protected by a later porch. The garden front is of four bays and the rooms at the rear are set high above the lawn and treated as a piano nobile. While there is no cornice, the roof is hipped and elegantly sprocketed, and the flues are all diverted into a single elongated central chimney stack.   

Great Island is not actually an island, although it is largely surrounded by water. The River Barrow, which converged with the River Nore just upstream from New Ross, forms its western boundary and joins the River Suir at the inner reaches of Waterford Harbour, which borders Great Island to the South. The Campile River, to the east, also flows into Waterford Harbour, while the connecting isthmus to the ‘mainland’ of County Wexford is largely low-lying and prone to floods, hence the name Great Island.  

Kilmokea stands on the highest point of the isthmus, north-west of the small town of Campile. Just a few miles beyond, the Hook peninsula stretches southwards like a rocky finger pointing out into the Celtic Sea. In the twelfth century the first Normans settlers landed near Hook Head and put their stamp upon the entire region. The great ruined Cistercian abbey of Dunbrody, standing in splendid isolation on the banks of the Campile River, is perhaps their finest legacy. 

In the 1950s Kilmokea was in a dilapidated state when purchased by David and Joan Price, prime movers behind the Wexford Opera Festival. They restored and extended the house in the fashion of the times, removing the external rendering and stripping and waxing the internal joinery by hand. But their principal focus was the garden, where the subtropical microclimate allows many rare and tender plants to flourish. They surrounded the house with a series of interconnecting garden ‘rooms’ of varying size, while a reconstructed millpond, on the opposite side of an adjoining by-road, feeds a small stream that winds its way through a magical woodland garden to the River Barrow. 

In the 1990s Kilmokea was purchased by Mark and Emma Hewlett as their family home. Together they have extended and enhanced both house and garden, which they maintain to an exemplary standard, and have built a magnificent new conservatory.”

The main lawn at the rear of Kilmokea – surrounded by perenniel borders, photograph 2014 by George Munday/Tourism Ireland (see [1]).
Kilmokea House, conservatory on right, photograph by Chris Hill 2014 for Tourism Ireland. (see [1])

11. Loftus Hall, County Wexford

https://www.discoverireland.ie/wexford/loftus-hall

Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Loftus Hall (1988):

p. 189. “(Redmond/LG1863; Loftus, Ely, M/PB) A gaunt, three-storey mansion of 1871, with rows of plate-glass windows and a balustraded parapet, incorporating parts of a previous house here, which was late 17th century or early C18, gable-ended and of two storeys and nine bays, with a domered roof and a steep pedimented gable; it was fronted by a forecourt with tall piers surmounded by ball finials and had a haunted tapestry room. The house stands near the tip of Hook Head, and must have been one of the most wing-swept noblemen’s seats in the British Isles; “No tree will grow above the shelter of the walls,” Bishop Pococke observed of Loftus Hall in C18, and the same is true of the place today. The site was originally occupied by an old castle of the Redmonds, which was known in their day as The Hall; and of which a square turret remained near the old house, but was demolished when the present house was built. The present house, which was built soon after his coming-of-age by the 4th Marquess of Ely [John Henry Willington Graham Loftus (1849-1889), built in 1870-71] – who also planned to rebuild his other seat, Ely Lodge – contains an impressive staircase hall, with an oak stair in Jacobean style, richly decorated with carving and marquetry; the gallery being carried on fluted Corinthian columns of wood. The house is now a convent.” 

Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021
Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The National Inventory tells us it is a nine-bay three-storey country house, built 1870-1, on an L-shaped plan centred on single-bay single-storey flat-roofed projecting porch to ground floor; seven-bay three-storey side (south) elevation centred on three-bay three-storey breakfront on a bowed plan…”A country house erected for John Henry Wellington Graham Loftus (1849-89), fourth Marquess of Ely, representing an important component of the later nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of south County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one retaining at least the footings of a house (1680-4) illustrated in Volume IV of Philip Herbert Hore’s (1841-1931) “History of the Town and County of Wexford” (1901), confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on panoramic vistas overlooking windswept grounds with Saint George’s Channel and Waterford Harbour as backdrops; the symmetrical frontage centred on a pillared porch demonstrating good quality workmanship; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression with those openings showing “stucco” refinements ‘designed to resemble a grand hotel’ (Williams 1994, 186); the definition of the principal “apartments” by Osborne House (1845-51)-like bows; and the balustraded roofline repurposing eagle finials shown in a sketch (1835-6) by Charles Newport Bolton (1816-84) of County Waterford (Hore 1901 IV, 381). A prolonged period of unoccupancy notwithstanding, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where encaustic tile work; contemporary joinery; robust chimneypieces; plasterwork by James Hogan and Sons of Great Brunswick Street [Pearse Street], Dublin (The Irish Builder 15th May 1874, 148; Freeman’s Journal 6th November 1875); and ‘an impressive oak stair in the Jacobean style…richly decorated with carving and marquetry’ (Bence-Jones 1978, 189-90), all highlight the artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, an adjacent coach house-cum-stable outbuilding; a walled garden; and a nearby gate lodge, all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having subsequent connections with John Henry Loftus (1851-1925), fifth Marquess of Ely. NOTE: Loftus Hall is the subject of two apocryphal legends with the first being the famous “Legend of Loftus Hall” (1765) and the second being that the country house was erected in anticipation of a royal visit from Queen Victoria (1819-1901; r. 1837-1901) by whom Jane Loftus (née Hope-Vere) (1821-90), Dowager Marchioness of Ely, was appointed to the office of Lady of the Bedchamber (1851).”

Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021: the Naional Inventory describes: “top-lit double-height staircase hall (west) retaining inlaid timber parquet floor, timber panelled staircase on an Imperial plan with fluted timber balusters supporting carved timber banisters terminating in timber panelled newels, round-headed niche to half-landing with moulded plasterwork frame, carved timber Classical-style surrounds to door openings to landing framing timber panelled doors, and decorative plasterwork cornice to compartmentalised ceiling centred on stained glass lantern with “Acanthus” ceiling rose.”
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021. The National Inventory describes: “hall retaining encaustic tiled floor carved timber Classical-style surrounds to door openings framing timber panelled doors centred on cut-veined marble Classical-style chimneypiece with carved timber surrounds to opposing window openings framing timber panelled shutters on panelled risers, and decorative plasterwork cornice to ceiling.”
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021: “bow-ended reception room (south) retaining carved timber Classical-style surround to door opening framing timber panelled double doors with carved timber surrounds to opposing window openings framing timber panelled shutters on panelled risers, and decorative plasterwork cornice to ceiling.”
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021

12. Newtownbarry House, Wexford – gardens open to the public https://www.gardensofireland.org/directory/52/

Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

Contact: Clody and Alice Norton 

Tel: +353 (0) 53 937 6383 

Email: clodynorton@gmail.com 

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 225. “(Barry/IFR; Maxwell, Farnham, B/PB; Hall-Dare;IFR) The estate of Newtownbarry originally belonged to a branch of the Barrys; passed to the Farnhams with the marriage of Judith Barry to John Maxwell, afterwards 1st Lord Farnham, 1719. Subsequently acquired by the Hall-Dare family, who built the present house 1860s, to the design of Sir Charles Lanyon. It is in a rather restrained Classical style, of rough ashlar; the windows have surrounds of smooth ashlar, with blocking. Two storey; asymmetrical entrance front, with two bays projecting at one end; against this projection is set a balustraded open porch. Lower two storey service wing. Eaved roof on plain cornice. Impressive staircase.”

Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The National Inventory tells us that it is a five-bay (five-bay deep) two-storey country house, built 1863-9, on an L-shaped plan off-centred on single-bay single-storey flat-roofed projecting porch to ground floor abutting two-bay two-storey projecting end bay; eight-bay two-storey rear (south) elevation. It continues:

Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

A country house erected for Robert Westley Hall-Dare JP DL (1840-76) to a design by Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon (formed 1860) of Belfast and Dublin (Dublin Builder 1864, 66) representing an important component of the mid nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one succeeding the eighteenth-century ‘Woodfield…[a] mansion of long standing and of cottage-like character in the Grecian style of architecture’ (Lacy 1863, 485), confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on panoramic vistas overlooking the meandering River Slaney with its mountainous backdrop in the near distance; the asymmetrical footprint off-centred on an Italianate porch; the construction in a rough cut granite offset by silver-grey dressings not only demonstrating good quality workmanship, but also providing an interplay of light and shade in an otherwise monochrome palette; and the slight diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a feint graduated visual impression. Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior arranged around a top-lit staircase hall recalling the Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon-designed Stradbally Hall (1866-7), County Laois, where contemporary joinery; Classical-style chimneypieces; and plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the considerable artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, adjacent outbuildings; walled gardens; all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having historic connections with the Hall-Dare family including Captain Robert Westley Hall-Dare JP DL (1866-1939), one-time High Sheriff of County Wexford (fl. 1891); and Robert Westley Hall-Dare (1899-1972).”

13. Tintern Abbey, Ballycullane, County Wexford – concessionary entrance to IGS members, OPW

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

14. Wells House, County Wexford – open for tours

Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 283. “(Doyne/IFR) A Tudor-Gothic house of ca 1840 by Daniel Robertson of Kilkenny; built for Robert Doyne [1816-1870], replacing an earlier house which, for nearly three years after the Rebellion of 1798, was used as a military barracks. Gabled front, symmetrical except that there is a three sided oriel at one end of the façade and not at the other, facing along straight avenue of trees to entrance gate. Sold ca 1964.” 

Wells House and Gardens, Ballyedmond, Gorey, Co Wexford_Courtesy Sonder Visuals 2017 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie

Contact: Sabine Rosler 

Tel: +353 (0) 53 918 6737 

Mobile: +353 (0) 87 997 4323 

Email: info@wellshouse.ie 

Web: www.wellshouse.ie 

Wells House has a stunning Victorian Terrace garden, parterre garden and arboretum designed by the renowned architect and landscape designer, Daniel Robertson. 

The terraced gardens which have been restored to their former glory sit beautifully into the large setting of his vast parkland design which spans for acres in the stunning Co. Wexford landscape. 

With two woodland walks, a craft courtyard, adventure playground, restaurant and a busy calendar of events this is a perfect day out for all the family. 

and “Discover the 400-year-old history of Wells House & Gardens by taking a guided exploration of the house. Our living house tour and expert guide in Victorian dress will bring you back to a time. To a time when the magnificent ground floor and bedrooms witnessed the stories of Cromwell, Rebellions and the Famine. Uncover the everyday lives of the wealthy, powerful families who lived in the estate and their famed architect Daniel Robertson. All giving you a unique insight into the life of previous generations all the way up until the current owners of Wells House.

It was for sale in 2019.

Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie

15. Wilton Castle, Bree, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford – section 482

contact: Sean Windsor
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
Tel: 053-9247738
www.wiltoncastleireland.com
Open: all year

See my write-up: www.irishhistorichouses.com/2022/02/04/wilton-castle-bree-enniscorthy-co-wexford-and-a-trip-to-johnstown-castle/

16. Woodbrook House, Killanne, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford – section 482

contact: Giles Fitzherbert
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
053-9255114
www.woodbrookhouse.ie
Open April 1-October 31

The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us:

Nestling beneath the Backstairs Mountains near Enniscorthy in County Wexford, Woodbrook, which was first built in the 1770s, was occupied by a group of local rebels during the 1798 rebellion. Allegedly the leader was John Kelly, the ‘giant with the gold curling hair’ in the well known song ‘The Boy from Killanne’. It is said that Kelly made a will leaving Woodbrook to his sons but he was hanged on Wexford bridge, along with many others after the rebels defeat at Vinegar Hill. He was later given an imposing monument in nearby Killanne cemetery. 

Arthur Jacob, who originally came from Enniscorthy and became Archdeacon of Armagh, built Woodbrook for his daughter Susan, who had married Captain William Blacker, a younger son of the family at Carrigblacker near Portadown. The house was badly knocked about by the rebels and substantially rebuilt in about 1820 as a regular three storey Regency pile with overhanging eaves, a correct Ionic porch surmounted by a balcony and three bays of unusually large Wyatt windows on each floor of the facade.

The drawing room is exceptionally large, with a fine chimneypiece thought to have come from the original house, while the amazing ‘flying’ staircase stands in the centre of a square double-height hall without touching the walls at any point. Each timber tread must have been individually fashioned by an especially skilled craftsman, and the staircase is knitted together by iron balusters which connect the treads. A remarkable tour de force of the joiner’s art, its closest parallel is the staircase at Chevening in Kent. 

The Woodbrook branch of the family inherited Carrickblacker, an important late-seventeenth century house outside Portadown, when the senior line died out in the 1850s and produced a stolid series of soldiers, sailors and clerics. A racier era began in Edwardian times when Woodbrook was home to a younger son, Edward Carew Blacker, a sporting bachelor whose weekly visits to London were necessitated by his close involvement in running the book at his club, Whites.

Edward usually found time to visit his mistress in Brighton before heading home to County Wexford but her presence was quite unsuspected until shortly after his death when his nephew’s family received a heavy parcel in the morning post. The package proved to contain the family jewels, presented piece by piece to his lady friend throughout their long association. She had always realised that they were not his to give away but felt unable to return them during his lifetime for fear of appearing ungrateful and causing him hurt. 

Woodbrook lay empty for some years after E. C. Blacker’s death in 1932. The house was occupied by the Irish army during the Second World War and was then extensively modernised when his nephew Robert moved back to County Wexford with his wife and family after the sale of Carrickblacker in the 1950s. Eventually sold in the mid 1990s, Woodbrook and the remains of a once substantial estate was bought by Giles and Alexandra FitzHerbert in 1998. They continue to live in the house with their family today.https://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Woodbrook

17. Woodville House, New Ross, Co. Wexford – section 482

contact: Gerald Roche
Tel: 087-9709828

Email: woodville05@eircom.net

www.woodvillegardens.ie
Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-21, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €7.50, OAP/student/child €5

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us that it was allegedly erected for Edward William Tottenham (d. 1860) on the occasion of his marriage (1807) to Henrietta Alcock (d. 1861).

The website tells us:

Woodville House and Gardens are situated on a working farm just two miles from New Ross, County Wexford. The Georgian house belongs to the Roche Family who have lived here since 1876.  The current owner Gerald Roche and his mother maintain the enchanting gardens, mature grounds and water garden which make this a truly delightful place to visit. 

Woodville House is a fine five bay, two storey over basement Georgian house dating from about 1800 situated above the river Barrow. The property was acquired by P J Roche, great grandfather of the present owner in 1876 and is now occupied by the 5th generation of Roches to live there. It is thought to have been built by the Tottenhams, the first mention of it being the home of Edward Tottenham and subsequently was lived in by a Reverend Minchen. The house has two gate lodges, one a gothic lodge opposite the river Barrow and the other a 19th century Italianate gate lodge with gates at the southern end of the property. This entrance way and avenue were built after the construction of the now disused railway.

The house, recently renovated, maintains its period charm with period interior decoration and antique furniture. Visitors to the house can view the reception rooms, the former billiard room with faithfully copied and reprinted original wallpaper and Victorian conservatory by the Messenger Company.

Woodville Garden and Parkland

The house is set in the centre of a working farm and is approached by long avenues through parkland planted with specimen trees including Sequoia, cedar, pines, cypress and a recent addition the Wollemi pine. The resident flock of sheep grazes the pasture land, a scene unchanged for two hundred years.

A laurel shrubbery to the front of the house is also planted with colourful flowering cherry, Paulownia, Crinodendron, and Catalpa, and leads down to the double tennis courts which in turn leads to the water garden. Started in 1963 by Peter and Irene Roche and planted under the embankment of the old New Ross to Macmine Junction Railway, the water garden is a tranquil haven of shade and water-loving plants: ferns, hostas, Arisarum proboscideum (the fetching mouse plant), Clematis, Astilbe and trilliums, as well as Cornus controversa and others. A series of dropping pools are shaded by majestic oaks and a Metasequoia glyptostroboides (the dawn redwood). 

The Victorian walled garden at the rear of the house is 0.5 hectares in size with conservatories, vegetable garden, fruit trees, herbaceous borders and lawn. A striking feature of the garden is the original box hedging proudly maintained by the present owner and enclosing different plantings. First to feature in spring is a Magnolia soulangeana followed by a spring border of snowdrops, crocus & narcissi. 

In May the iris border comes into full bloom, a nearby bed is devoted to blue flowering plants including Chatham Island forget-me-not (Myositidium hortensia). Later the roses present a striking and colourful display contrasting with the box hedging while the reds, yellows and oranges of later summer put in an appearance. Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ flowers in the contemplative garden, a sunny corner and vantage point. 

This is a plantsman’s garden and also a most productive vegetable patch providing an abundant supply of fresh fruit and vegetables for the household. The greenhouses designed by Messenger and built by P J Roche in the 1880’s house grapevines, peaches and nectarines as well as exotic and tender flowers plumbago, red and white nerines, vines and an old asparagus fern. A large bed of Crambe maritima (seakale) beloved of the Victorians is maintained as are beds of globe artichoke and asparagus. 

The garden was extensively planted with several varieties of apple, pear and cherry, which carefully pruned and espaliered on frames and against the walls of this sunny garden, provide visual structure and a rich harvest.

The dairy walk, so called because in the past it was the route taken from farmyard to the dairy in the basement of the house, features a blaze of Embothrium coccineum flowering vigorously in May following on witch hazel (Hamamalis mollis), rhododendrons, camellias and azaelias producing spectactular and colourful effects in early summer.

Places to Stay, County Wexford

1. Artramont House, Castlebridge, Co Wexford – B&B 

Artramon House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Artramon House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

https://www.artramon-farm.com/english/welcome

Mark Bence-Jones writes: p. 12. “(Le Hunte/LGI 1912; Neave, Bt/Pb) A late C18 house, remodelled after being burnt 1923. 2 storey; entrance front with pediment of which the peak is level with the coping of the parapet, and the base is well below the level of the main cornice. In the breakfront central feature below the pediment are two windows and a tripartite Venetian doorway; two bays on either side of the central feature.” 

The National Inventory tells us it is a five-bay two-storey country house, rebuilt 1928-32, on an L-shaped plan centred on single-bay two-storey pedimented breakfront; seven-bay two-storey side (west) elevation… “A country house erected for Richard “Dick” Richards (Wexford County Council 17th June 1927) to a design by Patrick Joseph Brady (d. 1936) of Ballyhaise, County Cavan (Irish Builder 1928, 602), representing an important component of the domestic built heritage of County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one retaining at least the footings of an eighteenth-century house destroyed (1923) during “The Troubles” (1919-23), confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on scenic vistas overlooking gently rolling grounds with ‘fine views of the estuary, harbour and town of Wexford’ as a backdrop (Fraser 1844, 118); the symmetrical frontage centred on a curiously compressed breakfront; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression; and the monolithic parapeted roofline. Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where contemporary joinery; reclaimed Classical-style chimneypieces; and sleek plasterwork refinements, all highlight the artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, adjacent outbuildings (extant 1840); and a substantial walled garden (extant 1840), all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having historic connections with the Le Hunte family including Captain George Le Hunte (d. 1799); William Augustus Le Hunte (1774-1820), one-time High Sheriff of County Wexford (fl. 1817); George Le Hunte (1814-91), ‘late of Artramont [sic] County Waterford [sic]’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations (1892, 481); and the largely absentee Sir George Ruthven Le Hunte KCMG (1852-1925), one-time Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Trinidad and Tobago (fl. 1908-15); and Major Sir Arundell Thomas Clifton Neave (1916-92), sixth Baronet.

Artramon House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

2. Ballytrent House, Broadway, Co Wexford – one wing rental.

http://ballytrenthouse.com 

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Ballytrent (1988):

p. 28. “Redmond/Hughes. A two storey Georgian house, 5 bays, projecting ends, each with a Wyatt window in both storeys. Adamesque plasterwork. Home of John Redmond MP, leader of Irish Parliamentary Party.” 

The website tells us:

Welcome to the Ballytrent website. Visitors to Wexford seeking a quiet, secluded location,could not choose a better location than Ballytrent. Ballytrent is a magnificent 18th century heritage house set in extensive grounds overlooking the sea towards Tuskar Rock Lighthouse. 

In the grounds of the house is located a Ráth or earthen mound dating back to prechristian times and, measuring 650 yards in circumference, is reputed to be the largest in Europe. The grounds also contain a large flag pole that was once the tallest mast in the British Isles. The Rath garden is a haven for songbirds & a visit, either early morning or late evening, is pure magic! 

Ballytrent is tranquil and secluded. The garden & lawns cover three acres and include some rare plants. Our farm is a mix of cattle, cereals and root crops. We extend a warm welcome to those interested in visiting the farm. We are fortunate in having the best weather in Ireland – the annual rainfall is approximately 35 inches and each year the Weather Station at Rosslare records the highest mean sunshine hours. We are indeed the Sunny South East ! 

Ballytrent House, 
Ballytrent, 
Rosslare Harbour, 
Co. Wexford, 
Ireland. 

Telephone/Fax: 053 91 31147 
Email: jepryan@eircom.net 

Situated in St Helen’s E.D., Ballytrent, with its double ringed ráth, is an 18th century  home set in extensive ground. The history of Ballytrent is a collection of works and illustrations put together after several years  of research by Mary Stratton Ryan, wife of the present owner, James Power Ryan. 

A brief look at this work could keep the most avid historian content for quite a while. It is from this book that the following list of names and facts are taken,  all having connections to Ballytrent. 

  • Aymer De Valance; Earl of Pembroke, buried in Westminster Abbey, London. 
  • Robert Fitzstephens; Ballytrent bestowed on him by Strongbow. 
  • John le Boteller (Butler); Constable of the Kings Castle at Ballytrent. 
  • John Sinnot; Listed as a Juror of the Inquisition at Wexford (c1420). 
  • Patrick Synnot; In a 1656 Curl Survey of Ireland shown as owner of 96 acres 24 perches at Ballytrent. 
  • Abraham Deane; Given Ballytrent by Cromwell. 
  • Sarah Hughes; Daughter of Abraham Deane. 
  • Walter Redmond; Purchased Ballytrent from Henry Hughes. 
  • William Archer Redmond MP; Father of John and William – both also MP’s. 
  • John Edward Redmond MP; Represented North Wexford, succeeded Parnell as leader of the Nationalist Party. 
  • William Hoey Kearney Redmond MP; MP for Wexford and Fermanagh. 
  • John H. Talbot (the younger);  Inherited Ballytrent from his sister Matilda Seagrave. 
  • William Ryan; Grandson of Sir James Power. Purchased Ballytrent from Emily Talbot (nee Considine). 
  • James Edward Power Ryan; Present owner and grandson of William Ryan. 

This clearly illustrates the influence and power that is part of the documented history of Ballytrent, without even considering the possibilities of the time when the ráth was in its prime.”

3. Bellfry at Old Boley, County Wexford

http://oldboleywexford.com

4. Berkeley Forest, New Ross, Co Wexford – B&B, see above

http://berkeleyforesthouse.com 

5. Butlerstown Castle, Tomhaggard, Co Wexford – A ruin, coach house accommodation  

http://www.butlerstowncastle.com/  

6. Clonganny House, Wexford – accommodation https://clonganny.com/

The website tells us: “Clonganny House is a fine country Georgian residence originally erected for Hawtry White (1758-1837) and sympathetically restored in the late twentieth century. Retaining many original features, Clonganny is a fine example of late Georgian architecture. Set in eight acres embracing gently rolling lawns, serene woodland, and a stunning walled garden, Clonganny House is only a short drive to a beautiful, award winning coastline and miles of golden sandy beaches.

7. Dunbrody Park, Arthurstown, County Wexford – accommodation 

WWW.DUNBRODYHOUSE.COM 

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 114. “(Chichester, Templemore, B/PB; and Donegall, M/PB) A pleasant, comfortable unassuming house of ca 1860 which from its appearance might be a C20 house of vaguely Queen Anne flavour. Two storey, five bay centre, with middle bay breaking forward and three-sided single-storey central bow; two bay projecting ends. Moderately high roof on bracket cornice; windows with cambered heads and astragals. Wyatt windows in side elevation.” 

The National Inventory tells us:

nine-bay two-storey country house with dormer attic, extant 1819, on an E-shaped plan with two-bay two-storey advanced end bays centred on single-bay two-storey breakfront originally single-bay three-storey on a rectangular plan. “Improved”, 1909-10, producing present composition…A country house erected by Lord Spencer Stanley Chichester (1775-1819) representing an integral component of the domestic built heritage of south County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one sometimes known as “Dunbrody Park” (Lacy 1863, 516) or “Harriet’s Lodge” after Lady Anne Harriet Chichester (née Stewart) (c.1770-1850), suggested by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on scenic vistas overlooking gently rolling grounds with Waterford Harbour as a backdrop; the near-symmetrical frontage centred on a truncated breakfront; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression; and the decorative timber work embellishing the roofline: meanwhile, a photograph (30th August 1910) by A.H. Poole of Waterford captures recent “improvements” to the country house with those works ‘[presenting the] appearance [of] a twentieth-century house of vaguely “Queen Anne” flavour’ (Bence-Jones 1978, 114). Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original or sympathetically replicated fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where contemporary joinery; Classical-style chimneypieces; and sleek plasterwork refinements, all highlight the artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, adjacent outbuildings (extant 1840); a private burial ground; and distant gate lodges, all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having historic connections with the Barons Templemore including Henry “Harry” Spencer Chichester (1821-1906), second Baron Templemore ‘late of Great Cumberland-place Middlesex’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1907, 508); Arthur Henry Chichester (1854-1924), third Baron Templemore; Arthur Claud Spencer Chichester (1880-1953), fourth Baron Templemore; and Dermot Richard Claud Chichester (1916-2007), fifth Baron Templemore.

8. Hyde Park House (or Tara House),Gorey, co wexford- accommodation 

Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie

The Hidden Ireland description tells us:

Designed by Sir Richard Morrison and built in 1807, the house is a listed building, featuring fine plasterwork and a magnificent cantilevered stairs. Having been lovingly restored over five years the house now boasts beautiful large comfortable bedrooms with well appointed en-suite bathrooms and immaculate bed linen and towels. Guests can relax in the drawing room and sit under the great Holm oaks.”

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 271. “(Beauman/LG1886; Kelly/LGI1958) A compact two storey villa by Richard Morrison, built ca 1807 for J.C. Beauman. Three bay front, with slightly recessed centre; single storey Doric portico, Wyatt window under relieving arch on either side. Wide-eaved roof. Very good interior plasterwork by James Talbot. Impressive domed staircase hall with oval oculus; the dome beign without pendentives, but restign directly on the cornice. Keyhole pattern in plasterwork on soffit of stairs. For some years the home of Sir David Kelly, former British Ambassador to Russia, and his wife, the writer on travel, architecture and gardens, Marie-Noele Kelly.” 

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us:

Detached three-bay (three-bay deep) two-storey over basement country house, designed 1803; built 1807, on a square plan centred on (single-storey) prostyle tetrastyle Doric portico to ground floor; six-bay full-height rear (north) elevation….A country house erected to a design (1803) by Sir Richard Morrison (1767-1844) of Clonmel and Dublin representing an important component of the early nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of north County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one recalling the Morrison-designed Bearforest (1807-8) in County Cork; and Kilpeacon House (1810) in County Limerick, confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on scenic vistas ‘commanding a fine view of the sea [and] of the escarpment of Tara Hill’ (Lewis 1837 II, 99); the compact near-square plan form centred on a pillared portico demonstrating good quality workmanship in a silver-grey granite; the dramatic diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated tiered visual effect with the principal “apartments” defined by Wyatt-style tripartite glazing patterns; and the timber work embellishing a slightly oversailing roofline. Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior, including crown or cylinder glazing panels in hornless sash frames: meanwhile, contemporary joinery; Classical-style chimneypieces; and plasterwork attributed to James Talbot (fl. 1801-18) of Dublin (DIA), all highlight the considerable artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, an adjacent farmyard complex; and a walled garden, all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having historic connections with the Beauman family including John Christopher Beauman Senior (1764-1836), one-time High Sheriff of County Wexford (fl. 1821); John Christopher Beauman Junior (1800-72); Matthew Forde Beauman (1805-72) ‘late of Hyde Park [sic] near Gorey County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administration 1873, 32); and Jane Emily Beauman (1844-1920), ‘Landowner’ (NA 1901; NA 1911; Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1920, n.p.); and Sir David Victor Kelly GCMG MC (1891-1959), one-time British Ambassador to Argentina (fl. 1942-6) and the Soviet Union (fl. 1949-51).”

Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie: central hall on a square plan retaining tessellated flagged floor, and dentilated plasterwork cornice to coved ceiling.
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie. Top-lit double-height staircase hall (north) on a rectangular plan retaining carved timber surrounds to door openings framing timber panelled doors, “Greek Key”-detailed cantilevered staircase on a dog leg plan with fluted balusters supporting carved timber banister terminating in volute.
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie

9. Kilmokea Country Manor & Gardens, Kilmokea, Great Island, Campile, New Ross, Co. Wexford  – accommodation, see above

10. Killiane Castle, County Wexford

https://killianecastle.com/

The website tells us: “The castle history is a remarkable tale of survival. Killiane Castle, a landmark in this cornerstone of Ireland’s Ancient East, has been in the Mernagh family for over one hundred years. However, its origins date back to medieval times to the Norman conquests and possibly even further to the early Irish settlers 500 years ago. 

The name ‘Killiane’ derives from ‘Cill Liadhaine’ in Gaelic, meaning the church of St Leonard which lies within the grounds of the Castle. 

Medieval Times 

Pre-dating the castle history, it is likely that there was some form of native Irish settlement here before the Normans. However, the first recorded owner of the lands was Richard de Hay in the 13th century. Richard de Hay came over with Fitzstephen in the first Norman invasion. 

The Norman tower house is approximately 50ft high and measures 39ft x 27ft externally. The walls are between 4ft and 9ft in thick.  The Normans built the tower around 1470. It is most likely one of the “£10 castles”.  King Henry VIII awarded a grant of £10 for the building of fortresses in his kingdom that became known as the “£10 castles”.  In recent years, an Australian visitor brought us a photo of the original deeds for Killiane Castle signed by King Henry VIII no less! 

Thomas Hay, a descendant of Richard, probably built the tower in the late 15th century c.1470. The present castle and surrounding walls bear testimony to the building genius of the Normans, over 500 years old and quite sound!  Built in a prominent position, the tower most likely overlooked a harbour. However, in the intervening years, reclaimed land replaced the harbour.  The surrounding lands feature a canal, slob lands and slightly further down the coast, Rosslare strand. 

Local Legend… 

Legend has it that below the ground floor underneath the stair way is a dungeon leading to a passageway to a doorway that no longer exists. 

In the early 16th century c.1520, Killiane passed to the Cheevers family by marriage. They continued to fortify the site. By 1543 one Howard Cheevers held Killiane, 2000 acres of land and the office of Mayor of Wexford. The ‘Laughing Cheevers’, as they were then known, held prominence in Wexford for another 100 years until the great rebellion. They built the house sometime in the early 17th century. 

The 17th century was a tumultuous part of the castle history. George Cheevers took part in the Irish Rebellion of 1641. He played a role in both the Siege of Duncannon, and the Confederation of Kilkenny. Following the Sacking of Wexford, Cromwell dispossessed him for his part in these rebellions. Georges son, Didicus, was a blind Franciscan monk. Infamously, several clergy were murdered in Wexford town’s Bullring at this time. Didicus was one of them. Sent to Connaught by Cromwell, the Cheevers family left Killiane. Just a few remained as tenants. The last of the them, an old man, who died in 1849. 

Nearby stands the ruins of the small medieval church of Saint Helen which was in ruins by 1835. Enclosed by a wall is the adjoining cemetery. It is reputed to be the burial place of the Cheevers family. 

Cromwell’s Rule 

In 1656 the property, along with 1500 acres, was granted to one of Cromwell’s soldiers, a Colonel Bunbury.  He sold it on to his friends, the Harveys of Lyme Regis. The first of these, Francis Harvey, became MP for Clonmines and Mayor of Wexford, positions his son John also held.  A famous beauty known as the Rose of Killiane, a daughter of the Harveys, married the Dean of Dublin in 1809. 

Victorian Times 

As time went by, the Harveys increasingly became absentee landlords. They leased the land to their tenants. Both the condition of the castle and the size of the estate materially diminished during this dark time in the castle hsitory. 

Throughout the 19th century there are references to tenants ‘Aylward’, ‘Elard’ and ‘Ellard’, possibly all the one family. By this time, the Harveys overwintered in their townhouse in Wexford at 38 Selskar Street. The family considered Killiane Castle too damp to stay at in winter. 

In 1908 Crown Solicitor, Kennan Cooper, bought the property for £1515. Cooper, a renowned character, kept racehorses and the 1911 census shows Killiane occupied by his tenant, George Grant and family. The census records Grant’s occupation as a ‘Horse trainer/jockey’. 

In 1920 John Mernagh, father of Jack the present owner, bought Killiane with 230 acres for £2000. At that time there was no roof on the tower-house. Ivy covered it. John re-roofed it and used it to store grain and potatoes.  Today the castle is home to Jack & Kathleen Mernagh who run the property along with their son Paul & his wife Patrycja and their family. 

The Structure of the Building  

Original Norman Features  

The castle still contains one original window that dates from the 15th century.  The original window is an ogee style window featuring two lights. Over the years, incumbents replaced the other windows. The main entrance to the castle was originally on the east side. It provided an adjoining door to the house at one time. The original door is bricked-up. On the south side of the tower a new door has been opened. 

Murder Holes! 

Looking at the front of the castle. There are murder holes over each of the doors on the ground floor. Perfectly located to pour hot tar over any unwelcome visitors!  This practice, we assure you, is not in place today! 

The third floor contains a fine granite fireplace. Small smooth stones from the beach line the chimney rising on the outer wall. Also in evidence on this floor, is a cupboard recess. 

Corrugated iron replaced the original slate roof. The parapet consists of large sloping slabs. The battlements are of the steeply stepped type. There is a square turret on each corner. On the outside of the southern turret is a carved head. 

The large bawn has a round tower on the south east corner and a square tower on the south west corner, castle occupying the north west corner. The north east tower has been removed. In order to accommodate the facade of the house, the northern apron wall was taken down. 

Original 17th Century House 

The original 17th century house consisted of two storeys with a garret on top. The incumbents raised the roof at a date unknown to us.  This action incorporated the original dormer windows of the garrets,

converting it into a third storey. Furthermore, they also reduced the great slant on the original 17th-century roof. 

The staircase of the house is of a simple very wide design, typical of the 17th century. 

11. Marlfield, Gorey, Co Wexford – accommodation 

WWW.MARLFIELDHOUSE.COM 

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Marlfield (1988):

Supplement 

P. 299. (Stopford, Courtown, E/PB) “A three storey Regency house of random stone with brick facings; four bay front with two bay breakfront centre, eaved roof on bracket cornice, massive chimneystacks. Originally the dower house of the [Stopford] Earls of Courtown, it eventually replaced Courtown House as their Irish seat. Sold in 1979 to Mary Bowe, who has opened it as an hotel. As an extension to the dining room, a veranda and an elegant curvilinear conservatory were added to the front of the house 1983; the architects of this addition being Messrs Cochrane, Flynn-Rogers and Williams.” 

The National Inventory tells us it is a four-bay (two-bay deep) three-storey land agent’s house, built 1852, on a T-shaped plan; four-bay three-storey rear (south) elevation centred on two-bay full-height breakfront. Occupied, 1901; 1911. In occasional use, 1916-75. Vacated, 1975. Sold, 1977. Modified, 1989, producing present composition to accommodate continued alternative use… “A land agent’s house erected by James Thomas Stopford (1794-1858), fourth Earl of Courtown (Walsh 1996, 68), representing an important component of the mid nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of the outskirts of Gorey with the architectural value of the composition, one succeeding an adjacent house occupied by Reverend James Bentley Gordon (1750-1819), author of “History of the Rebellion in Ireland in the Year 1798” (1803), confirmed by such attributes as the compact plan form centred on a much-modified doorcase; the construction in an ochre-coloured fieldstone offset by vibrant red brick dressings producing a mild polychromatic palette; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression; and the monolithic timber work embellishing the roofline. Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior, including some crown or cylinder glazing panels in hornless sash frames: meanwhile, contemporary joinery; Classical-style chimneypieces; and the decorative plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, adjacent outbuildings (extant 1904); a walled garden (extant 1904); and a nearby gate lodge (see 15700718), all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of a self-contained estate having historic connections with Colonel Robert Owen (1784-1867) and Charlotte Owen (1796-1853) ‘late of Marlfield County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1870, 447); and the Stopford family following the sale (1947) and demolition (1948-9) of Courtown House (see 15701216) including James Walter Milles Stopford (1853-1933), sixth Earl of Courtown; Major James Richard Neville Stopford DL OBE (1877-1957), seventh Earl of Courtown; and Brevet Colonel James Montagu Burgoyne Stopford OBE (1908-75), eighth Earl of Courtown.

12. Monart, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford – 5* hotel https://www.monart.ie/

Monart Spa Wexford Annica Jansson 2016, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.

Nestled in over 100 acres of lush countryside in County Wexford, Monart offers two types of accommodation, 68 deluxe bedrooms with lake or woodland views and two luxurious suites located in the 18th century Monart House.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 208. “Cookman/IFR) A three storey mid-C18 house of sandstone and limestone dressings Five bay front with breakfront centre; Venetian windows in centre of middle storey, with Diocletian windows over it; modified Gibbsian doorcase. Later additions.”

The National Inventory tells us:

A country house erected by Edward Cookman JP (d. 1774), one-time High Sheriff of County Wexford (fl. 1763), representing an important component of the eighteenth-century domestic built heritage of County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, ‘a handsome mansion pleasantly situated on a gentle eminence above the Urrin [River] in a highly improved and richly wooded demesne’ (Lewis 1837 II, 385), confirmed by such attributes as the neo-Palladian plan form centred on a Classically-detailed breakfront; the construction in an ochre-coloured fieldstone offset by silver-grey granite dressings not only demonstrating good quality workmanship, but also producing a mild polychromatic palette; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression; and the parapeted roofline. Having been sympathetically restored following a prolonged period of unoccupancy in the later twentieth century, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior, including crown or cylinder glazing panels in hornless sash frames: meanwhile, contemporary joinery; Classical-style chimneypieces; and “bas-relief” plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the artistic potential of a country house having historic connections with the Cookman family including Nathaniel Cookman (—-); Edward Rogers Cookman JP (1788-1865) ‘late of Monart House in the County of Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1865, 70); Nathaniel Narcissus Cookman JP DL (1827-1908), ‘Country Gentleman late of Monart House Enniscorthy County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1908, 96; cf. 15701922); and Captain Nathaniel Edward Rogers Cookman JP DL (1894-1983); and a succession of tenants including Lowry Cliffe Tottenham (1858-1937), ‘Gentleman [and] District Inspector of Royal Irish Constabulary’ (NA 1911).” 

13. Rathaspeck Manor “doll’s house” gate lodge, County Wexford and the Manor B&B

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/18288598?source_impression_id=p3_1646906004_9dSSY0tDTw%2FmQ8TE

The delightful Rathaspeck gate lodge, County Wexford, available for accommodatino on airbnb.

and Manor https://www.rathaspeckmanor.ie

The website tells us:

Rathaspeck Manor Georgian House Wexford was built between 1680-1720 by the Codd Family who came to Ireland circa 1169. William Codd’s son Sir Osborne Codd settled at Rathaspeck and erected a castle there in 1351. 

A descendant Loftus Codd was succeeded by daughters, one of whom, Jane Codd, married Thomas Richards. The Richards Family came to Ireland in 1570 approx. It was this marriage which placed Rathaspeck in the Richards Family. 

Jane and Thomas had 6 sons and 2 daughters. The eldest son Thomas, born 1722 had a Family of two daughters, the oldest Martha married Count Willimsdorf from the Kingdom of Hannover in 1802. This couple had one son , Thomas William Fredrick Von Preberton Willimsdorf who died in 1834 unmarried. There were also three daughters, one of whom Elizabeth , born in 1778 , died in 1863 in Holland. 

Elizabeth married Count Von Leinburg Slirrin on April 15th 1802 and they proceeded to have a Family of ten children born between 1803 and 1820 . It is believed that sometime after this the family moved to Holland. Rathaspeck was in the hands of an English Family called Moody after this until the early 1900’s. The Moody built the present gate lodge – or “Doll’s House” in 1900. 

The Meyler Family came to Rathaspeck in 1911 when it was offered for sale and it was from the Meyler Family that the Manor passed to the Cuddihy Family. 

The site of the original Castle is unknown, but it is considered that the present Rathaspeck Manor Georgian Country Home, Ireland is built on the site. 

“Rath” means Fort , so the name of Rathaspeck stems from the Gaelic Ratheasbuig , meaning “Fort of the Bishop”. 

14. Riverbank House Hotel, The Bridge, Wexford, Ireland Y35 AH33 https://www.riverbankhousehotel.com

15. Rosegarland House, Wellingtonbridge, County Wexford – accommodation https://rosegarlandestate.ie/

Photograph from Mark Bence-Jones (1988).

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 245. “(Synnott/IFR; Leigh/IFR) An early C18 house of two storeys over a high basement was built by Leigh family, close to an old tower house of the Synnotts, the original owners of the estate. Later in C18, a larger two storey gable-ended range was added at right angles to the earlier building, giving the house a new seven bay front, with a very elegant columned and fanlighted doorway, in which the delicately leaded fanlight extends over the door and the sidelights. There is resemblance between this doorway and that of William Morris’s town house in Waterford (now the Chamber of Commerce) which is attributed to the Waterford architect, John  Roberts; the fact is that it is also possible to see a resemblance between the gracefully curving and cantilevered top-lit staircase at Rosegarland – which is separated from the entrance hall by a doorway with an internal fanlight – and the staircase of the Morris house, would suggest that the newer range at Rosegarland and the Morris house are by the same architect. At the back of the house, the two ranges form a corner of a large and impressive office courtyard, one side of which has a pediment and a Venetian window. In another corner of the courtyard stands the old Synnott tower house, which, in C19, was decorated with little battlemented turrets and a tall and slender turret like a folly tower, with battlements and rectangular and pointed openings; this fantasy rises above the front of the house. The early C18 range contains a contemporary stair of good joinery, with panelling curved to reflect the curve of the handrail. The drawing room, in the later range, has a cornice of early C19 plasterowrk and an elaborately carved chimneypiece of white marble. The dining room, also in this range, was redecorated ca 1874, and given a timber ceiling and a carved oak chimneypiece.” 

The National Inventory tells us:

A country house erected by Robert Leigh MP (1729-1803) representing an important component of the eighteenth-century domestic built heritage of south County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one attributable with near certainty to John Roberts (1712-96) of Waterford, confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on scenic vistas overlooking gently rolling grounds and the meandering Corock River; the symmetrical footprint centred on a Classically-detailed doorcase not only demonstrating good quality workmanship, but also showing a pretty fanlight; and the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression. A prolonged period of unoccupancy notwithstanding, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior including not only crown or cylinder glazing panels in hornless sash frames, but also a partial slate hung surface finish widely regarded as an increasingly endangered hallmark of the architectural heritage of County Wexford: meanwhile, contemporary joinery; ‘elaborately carved chimneypieces of white marble’ (Bence-Jones 1978, 246); plasterwork enrichments; and a top-lit staircase recalling the Roberts-designed Morris House [Chamber of Commerce] in neighbouring Waterford (Craig and Garner 1975, 68), all highlight the considerable artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, an adjacent stable complex (see 15704041); a walled garden (see 15704042); a nearby farmyard complex (extant 1902; coordinates 685132,615236); and a distant gate lodge (extant 1840; coordinates 685381,616928), all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having long-standing connections with the Leigh family including Francis Robert Leigh MP (1758-1839); Francis Augustine Leigh (1822-1900), ‘late of Rosegarland County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1900, 277); Francis Robert Leigh DL (1853-1916), ‘late of Rosegarland Wellington Bridge County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1916, 371); Francis Edward Leigh (1907-2003); and Robert Edward Francis Leigh (1937-2005).

16. Wells House, County Wexford – self-catering cottage accommodation, see above

https://wellshouse.ie/self-catering-accommodation-wexford 

17. Wilton castle, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford – see above

18. Woodbrook, Killane, Co Wexford – accommodation and 482 , see above

www.woodbrookhouse.ie 

19. Woodlands Country House, Killinierin, County Wexford B&B https://www.woodlandscountryhouse.com

Relax in comfortable old world charm in the heart of the Wexford Countryside at Woodlands Country House, a magnificently well preserved Georgian House with beautiful antiques. It is a charming and intimate place to relax, where fine food and furnishings are matched by warm and impeccable service that says you are special.

Woodlands Country House Bed & Breakfast is ideally situated near the market town of Gorey and the picturesque seaside resort of Courtown Harbour on the Wexford/Wicklow border in South East Ireland. The Country House B&B is only 1 hour from Dublin off the M11 making it an ideal location for touring the South East of Ireland.

20. Woodville House, New Ross, Co Wexford – 482, see above

Whole House rental County Wexford:

1. Ballinkeele, whole house rental:

www.ballinkeele.ie

The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us:

In the first quarter of the 19th century the Maher family, who were famous for their hunting and racing exploits in County Tipperary, moved to County Wexford. They purchased Ballinkeele, near Enniscorthy, from the Hay family, one of whose members had been hanged for rebellion on Wexford bridge in 1798. John Maher, MP for County Wexford, began work on a new house in 1840 and Ballinkeele is one of Daniel Robertson’s few houses in the classical taste. The other was Lord Carew’s magnificent Castleboro, on the opposite side of the River Slaney, sadly burnt by the IRA in 1922 and now a spectacular ruin.   

The house is comprised of a ground floor and a single upper storey, with a long, slightly lower, service wing to one side in lieu of a basement. The facades are rendered with cut-granite decoration, including a grandiose central porch, supported by six Tuscan columns and surmounted by an elaborate balustrade, which projects to form a porte cochère.

The garden front has a central breakfront with a shallow bow, flanked by wide piers of rusticated granite. These are repeated at each corner as coigns.

The interior is classical, with baroque overtones, and is largely unaltered with most of its original contents. The hall runs from left to right and is consequently lit from one side, with a screen of scagliola Corinthian columns at one end and an elaborate cast-iron stove at the other.

The library and drawing room both have splendid chimneypieces of inlaid marble in the manner of Pietro Bossi, while the fine suite of interconnecting rooms on the garden front open onto a raised terrace.  

The staircase hall has a spectacularly cantilevered stone staircase, with decorative metal balusters. As it approaches the ground floor the swooping mahogany handrail wraps itself around a Tuscan column supporting a bronze statue of Mercury, in a style that anticipates Art Nouveau by more than forty years.

Outside, two avenues approach the house, one which provides a glimpse of a ruined keep reflected in an artificial lake, while both entrances were built to Robertson’s designs.

The present owners are Valentine and Laura Maher who live at Ballinkeele with their children.” [ https://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Ballinkeele ]

2. Horetown House, County Wexford

 https://www.horetownhouse.ie/

The website tells us:

Horetown House is a private country house wedding venue in County Wexford in the South-East corner of Ireland. Situated among rolling hills in the heart of rural Wexford, Horetown House is the perfect venue for a stylish, laid back wedding.  Our charming country house is yours exclusively for the duration of your stay with us.

Family owned and run, we can take care of everything from delicious food, bedrooms and Shepherds huts, to a fully licensed pub in the cellar.  Horetown House is perfect for couples looking for something a little bit different, your very own country house to create your dream wedding.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 155. “(Davis-Goff, Bt/PB) A three storey Georgian house. Front with two bays on either side of a recessed centre. Triple windows in centre and pillared portico joining the two projections.” 

The National Inventory tells us it is:

A country house erected to designs signed (1843) by Martin Day (d. 1861) of Gallagh (DIA; NLI) representing an important component of the mid nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one succeeding a seventeenth-century house (1693) annotated as “Hoarstown [of] Goff Esquire” by Taylor and Skinner (1778 pl. 149), confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on panoramic vistas overlooking gently rolling grounds; the symmetrical frontage centred on a pillared portico demonstrating good quality workmanship in a silver-grey granite; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression; and the parapeted roofline. Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where contemporary joinery; restrained chimneypieces; and decorative plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, a nearby quadrangle erected (1846) by ‘S.D. Goff Esq Architect [and] Johnson Builder’ continues to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having historic connections with the Goff family including Strangman Davis Goff (né Davis) (1810-83) ‘late of Horetown House County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administration 1883, 318); and Sir William Goff Davis Goff (1838-1918) of Glenville, County Waterford; a succession of tenants including Joseph Russell Morris (NA 1901) and Edward Naim Townsend (NA 1911); and Major Michael Lawrence Lakin DSO (1881-1960) and Kathleen Lakin (née FitzGerald) (1892-30) of Johnstown Castle.”

Wicklow:

1. Altidore Castle, Kilpeddar, Greystones, Co. Wicklow – section 482

Altidore, County Wicklow, June 2019.

see my write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/25/altidore-castle-kilpeddar-greystones-county-wicklow/
contact: Philip Emmet
Tel: 087-7601369
Open: Mar 10-29, May 1-31, June 1-3, 1pm-5pm, Aug 13-21, 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult /OAP €5, child under 12 years free, child over 12 and student negotiable, group rates.

2. Avondale House, County Wicklow – closed until further notice. https://visitwicklow.ie/listing/avondale-house-forest-park/

Avondale House & Forest Park includes the Charles Stewart Parnell Museum. Over 500 acres of mature woodland with tree’s from all over the world including the tallest collection of Trees in Ireland. We have walking trails from an easy 1 hour walk to a tough 5 hour walks. Avondale House was built in 1779. In 1846 Charles Stewart Parnell was born in the house, one of Irelands greatest ever political leaders of modern Irish history. Today the house is a museum. Avondale is a beautiful Georgian House designed by James Wyatt and built in 1777 and completed in 1779 contains fine plasterwork by the Francini Brothers and many original pieces of furniture. The American Room is dedicated to Admiral Charles Stewart – Parnell’s American grandfather who manned the USS Constitution during the 1812 war.  In 1904 the state purchased the Avondale Estate to develop modern day forestry in Ireland. Today its still regarded as the historic home of Irish Forestry and silviculture.

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

p. 15. “A square house of 2 storeys over basement, built 1779 for Samuel Hayes, a noted amateur architect who possibly designed it himself. 5 bay entrance front, the 3 centre bays breaking forward under a pediment; small Doric porch with paired columns, Coade stone panels with swags and medallions between lower and upper windows. Garden front with central bow; the basement, which in the entrance front is concealed, is visible on this side with its windows have Gibbsian surrounds. Magnificent and lofty 2 storey hall with C18 Gothic plasterwork and gallery along inner wall. Bow room with beautiful Bossi chimneypiece. Dining room with elaborate neo-Classical plasterwork on walls and ceiling; the wall decorations incorporating oval mirrors and painted medallions. Passed to William Parnell-Hayes, brother of the 1st Baron Congleton, and grandfather of Charles Steward Parnell, who was born here and lived here all his life with his mother and elder brother. Now owned by the dept of Lands, Forestry Division, which maintains the splendid demesne as a forest park…The house has in recent years been restored by the Board of Works.” 

The National Inventory tells us that the house may have been designed by James Wyatt.

3. Ballymurrin House, Kilbride, Wicklow, Co. Wicklow – section 482

Ballymurrin, County Wicklow, July 2019.

see my write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/11/27/ballymurrin-kilbride-county-wicklow/
contact: Philip Geoghegan
Tel: 086-1734560
www.ballymurrinquakerfarmstead.eu
Open: Jan 2-21, July 23-31, Aug 1-31, 2pm-6pm Fee: free

4. Castle Howard, Avoca, Co. Wicklow – section 482

Castle Howard, County Wicklow, September 2019.

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/11/13/castle-howard-avoca-county-wicklow/
contact: Ailish Macken
Tel: 01-6327664
Open: Jan 10-12, Feb 14-18, Mar 7-9, 21-23, June 21-25, 29-30, July 1-2, 11-16, 25- 28, Aug 13-21, Sept 5-10, 17, 20-24, Oct 3-5, 10-12, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €8.50, OAP/student €6.50, child €5

5. Charleville, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow – section 482

Charleville, County Wicklow, August 2020.

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/09/18/charleville-county-wicklow/
contact: Tatiane Baquiega
Tel: 01-6624455
Open: Feb 1-4, 7-11, 14-18, 21-25, 28, May 3-27, 30-31, June 1-3, 7, Aug 13-21, Mon-Fri, 1pm- 5pm, Sat & Sun, 9am-1pm

Fee: house €9, garden €6

6. Corke Lodge, Co Wicklow – gardens open to visitors 

Opening dates 2022: June 21-Sept 8th 2022, Tuesday to Saturdays and all of Heritage Week, August 13-21st, 9:00-13:00

Admission €8.

Open other times by appointment only.

No pets allowed.

The website tells us:

The house was built on and incorporates the remains of an older structure, visible on the 1750 maps of Dublin. Situated on the lands owned by Hannagh Tilson Magan it was commissioned by her or by her son William Henry Magan between 1815 and 1820.

William Magan is known to have employed the Architect William Farrell to design a country house, Clonearl, in Co. Offaly in 1815. This house was destroyed by fire in the 1840’s but it is clear from the surviving plans that the distinctive pillastered design is mirrored in both Killyon manor, co. Meath another Magan/Loftus house and in Corke Lodge. Unusual fenestration and similar door treatments also link the two surviving properties. Close by the church at Crinken, endowed by Hannagh Magan was also designed by Farrell. So it would not be unreasonable to assume that Corke Lodge, which has all the hallmarks of an architectural ‘capriccio’ is by the same hand. The main façade and the two front reception rooms are in the classical style. The rooms at the back and above have gothic detailing.

The last Magan owner of this property as well as the other huge Magan/Tilson/Loftus estates was Augusta. Her eccentricities and reclusive life are said to have inspired Charles Dickens, who visited Dublin, in his creation of Miss Haversham, in the Great Expectations. 

The most striking feature of the house is the bold architectural treatment of the classical facade, a miniature of the two great houses mentioned above. By contrast, the back elevations are in a flat gothic stile reflecting the romantic nature of the planted ‘wilderness’. The interiors retain all their original features in terms of marble mantle pieces, pillared architraves and plasterwork. Although the house originally would not have been used for more than a few days a year by the Magans when bathing in the nearby sea or visiting the family tombs at Crinken, it has been continuously inhabited since its incorporation into the Woodbrook estate By Sir Stanley Cochrane in 1906. Sir Stanley, heir to a mineral water fortune, was an accomplished athlete and opera singer who created on his estate championship cricket pitches a golf course and the Laurel Park Opera House, precursor of Glyndebourne, and where Dame Nellie Melba sang.

The house as it presents itself today was restored and furnished in 1980 by architect Alfred Cochrane. It pioneered the current trends in historicist restoration of country houses and was featured in a number of local and international publications.

7. Dower House, Rossanagh, Ashford, Co Wicklow – gardens open by appointment https://www.dublingardengroup.com/the-dower-house/

Opening (if Covid allows) April 2nd  to July 1st, 2022.
By appointment only.

The gardens surrounding this late eighteenth century house (c.1790) were laid out towards the end of the nineteenth century with plantings of many fine specimens including Rhododendron arboreum,  Magnolia soulangeana ‘Alba’, and Camellia japonica. Also included are a number of specimen mature trees, including a fine Chilean myrtle, Luma apiculata, planted c. 1880. When the Butler family acquired the property, a white garden in a sheltered enclosure behind the house was added together with a wild meadow which reaches its peak in mid June.

The indefatigable Mrs Delany, eighteenth century social commentator, diarist, artist and friend of Dean Jonathan Swift commenting on Rossanagh demesne on which Dower House was built wrote: ‘It is a very pretty place… neatly kept’. As early as 1733, A.C. Forbes noted that the largest tree in Ireland, a Spanish chestnut flourished in the demesne. It was under this tree that Methodist preacher, the Reverend John Wesley preached during one of his many visits in June, 1789. Rossanagh holds links to many well known ‘personalities’ of the day including musician/composer, Thomas Moore, artists, George Romney, Maria Spilsbury-Taylor, politicians, Henry Grattan and William Pitt, the Younger together with Patrick Bronte, father of distinguished English novelists, Charlotte, Emily and Anne. Described as one of ‘Wicklow’s finest gardens’ (Jane Powers), the gardens are open each year in aid of The Wicklow Hospice.

8. Festina Lente Gardens, Old Connaught Avenue, Bray, Wicklow, IE 

Tel: +353 (0) 1 272 0704 

Email: gardens@festinalente.ie 

Web: www.festinalente.ie 

The Festina Lente non-profit Walled Victorian Gardens are one of the largest working Victorian Walled Garden in Ireland and contains many beautiful features and stunning fauna and flora. 

The Ornamental Formal Garden, Pool Garden & Kitchen Garden have been restored all within the original Victorian walls from 1780’s. 

Opening Hours 

All year round. 
Mon – Fri 9 – 5 pm 
Saturday 9.30 – 6 pm 
Sun: 11 – 6 pm 
Closed Christmas Week 

9. Greenan More, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow – section 482

contact: Paul Arnold
Tel: 087-2563200
www.greenanmore.ie
Open: May 1-31, June 1-12, Aug 12-31, Sept 1-18, Wed- Sun, National Heritage Week Aug 13-21, 10am-3pm

10. Huntingbrook, – gardens open to public https://www.huntingbrookgardens.com

The Gardens open Wednesday 6th April until Saturday 24th September 2022

Hours
Wednesday – Saturday
11am–4pm

Designed to be a thoroughly immersive experience, the gardens are home to one of Ireland’s largest private collections of plants. A riot of colour, shape and texture, the gardens are always on the move with fresh surprises at every visit.” 

11. Killruddery House & Gardens, Southern Cross Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow – section 482

Killruddery, County Wicklow, April 2021.

contact: Anthony Ardee
Tel: 01-2863405
www.killruddery.com
Open: Apr 1-Oct 31, Tue-Suns and Bank Holidays. National Heritage Week 13-21, 9am-6pm,
Fee: adult €8.50, garden and house tour €15.50, OAP/student €7.50, garden and house tour €13, garden and house tour €13, child €3, 4-16 years, garden and house tour €5.50

12. Kiltimon House, Newcastle, Co. Wicklow – section 482

contact: Michelle O’Connor
Tel: 087-2505205
Open: May 2-22, Aug 13-21, Sept 1-30, 9am-1pm Fee: adult €10, OAP/student/child €5

13. Kingston House, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow – section 482

contact: Liam Lynam
Tel: 087-2415795
Open: Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, 10am-2pm
Fee: adult €3, OAP/student/child €2

14. Knockanree Garden, Avoca, Co Wicklow – section 482, garden only

contact: Peter Campion and Valerie O’Connor
Tel: 085-8782455
www.knockanreegardens.com
Open: May 20-21, 23-28, 30-31, June 1-4, 6-11, 13-18, 20-25, 27-30, July 1-3, Aug 13-21, Oct 1, 3-8, 10-14, 9.30am-1.30pm
Fee: adult €3, OAP/student €2

15. 1 Martello Terrace, Strand Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow – section 482

Martello Terrace, Bray, County Wicklow – photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

contact: Liz McManus
Tel: 087-2357369
Open: May, June, Sept, Oct, Mon & Thurs, July & Aug, Mon, Thurs, & Sun, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, 1pm-5pm, Sunday, 9am-1pm

Fee: Free

This house forms part of one of Bray’s earliest, best preserved, and most distinctive seafront terraces; it is also of some historical value due to the fact that James Joyce lived in the property between 1887 and 1891. 

16. Mount Usher Gardens, Ashford, Co. Wicklow – section 482, garden only

Mount Usher, County Wicklow, June 2021.

See my entry

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2021/06/30/mount-usher-gardens-ashford-co-wicklow/
contact: Caitriona Mc Weeney
Tel: 01-2746900
www.mountushergardens.ie

www.avoca.com/en
Open: all year, Jan-Mar, Nov-Dec, 10am-6pm, Apr-Oct, 10am-6pm Fee: adult €9, student/OAP €8, child €5, no charge for wheelchair users

17. Powerscourt House & Gardens, Powerscourt Estate, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow – section 482

Powerscourt House and Gardens, photograph by Chris Hill 2015, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/04/26/powerscourt-house-gardens-enniskerry-county-wicklow/
contact: Sarah Slazenger
Tel: 01-2046000
www.powerscourt.ie
Open: all year, closed Christmas Day and St Stephens Day, 9.30am-5.30pm, ballroom and garden rooms Sun, 9.30am-1.30pm
Fee: Mar-Oct, adult €11.50, OAP €9, student €8.50, child €5, family ticket €26, Nov- Dec, adult €8.50, OAP €7.50, student €7, child €4, family €18

18. Russborough, The Albert Beit Foundation, Blessington, Co. Wicklow – section 482

Russborough House, County Wicklow, photography by Chris Hill 2015 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/11/08/russborough-house-blessington-county-wicklow/
contact: Eric Blachford
Tel: 045-865239
enc@russborough.ie
Open: Jan 1-Dec 24, 10am-5pm,
Fee: adult €12, OAP/student €8, child €6, parking €3 per car

19. Tinode, Blessington, Co Wicklow – June Blake’s Garden, open from Springtime 2022 http://www.juneblake.ie/cms/

The very best gardens intrigue and restore us, and so it is with June Blake’s garden which is a rare fusion of inspired design and painterly planting. Situated in the townland of Tinode in west Wicklow, and spread over three rural acres, it wraps itself around June’s home, a handsome Victorian farm-steward’s cottage surrounded by a huddle of austerely beautiful, granite-stone farm buildingsone of which -the Cow House- has recently been the subject of an award-winning, modern architectural conversion. In a previous life, Blake was a gifted jewellery maker. Those same carefully honed skills- a razor sharp eye and keen attention to detail, an artist’s deep appreciation of colour, texture and form, as well as the ability to take a raw, unpolished material and expertly craft it into something aesthetically deeply satisfying- still shine through brightly in her excitingly contemporary country garden. Within it are many different areas of interest. These include intricately planted borders of gem-like beauty, swathes of naturalistic, prairie-style planting, sculptural landforms, a flower meadow that comes to life in spring with sprinkles of crimson red Tulip ‘Red Shine’, generous stretches of woodland intersected by curving cobble paths and filled with choice shade-lovers, and a formal, rectangular pool whose silver sliver of water is a mirror to the cloud-streaked Wicklow sky. Each one is so thoughtfully, imaginatively and expertly executed that it would be enough by itself to bring joy to the heart of any gardener. But it is when they are combined together as a whole that they form what is, without doubt, a truly remarkable garden.” Fionnuala Fallon.

The house was designed by William Caldbeck in 1864. Tinode House was burned to the ground in 1922 by the IRA, and has since been partially rebuilt.

20. Trudder Grange, Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow – gardens open, by appointment only, https://www.dublingardengroup.com/trudder-grange/

Vanessa Hayes
Address
: Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow, A63 FD28
Tel
: +353 1 2819422
Mobile: +353 0 87 418 7616

€5.00 per person Tea/coffee and biscuits available by arrangement (€3 per person)

Approached by an avenue of 200 year old beech trees Trudder Grange garden has developed over the last 30 years from a stony field into a garden full of shrubs and herbaceous borders, an organic vegetable garden and with a greenhouse producing many varieties of tomatoes. There is an acre of wild flower meadow in the walled garden which is planted with unusual specimen trees. Close to the sea, many tender plants grow in this very sheltered garden.

21. Warbel Bank gardens, Newtownmountkennedy, Wicklow 

https://www.gardensofireland.org/directory/59/warbel+bank/

Contact: Anne Condel 

Tel: +353 (0) 1 281 9298 

Email: warbelbank@yahoo.ie 

Web: www.warblebankgarden.com 

Places to stay, County Wicklow:

1. Ballyknocken House, Ashford, County Wicklow

www.ballyknocken.ie

The website tells us:

Ballyknocken House, Farm and Cookery SchoolScenically located on 280 acres only 47 km south of Dublin City Centre in County Wicklow, Ireland. Our charming 4* Victorian style farm guesthouse offers 7 guest bedrooms plus a 3-bedroom Milking Parlour apartment, surrounded by scented kitchen gardens, offering a farm to fork experience. Home to celebrity chef and award-winning food writer, Catherine Fulvio, we pride ourselves on continuing the family tradition of providing B&B accommodation for over fifty years here in County Wicklow.

We offer an intimate, cosy, warm and friendly experience not only for individual guests for Foodie Short Breaks and for visiting Wicklow but we also welcome private parties, whether it’s a corporate, friend and family gathering or hen party. Ballyknocken can be booked exclusively for accommodation, cookery events and onsite activities for your company day out or your celebration.

2. Ballymurrin House, Kilbride, Co Wicklow – 482 and Airbnb, see above 

3. Brook Lodge and Macreddin Village, County Wicklow https://www.originalirishhotels.com/hotels/brooklodge-macreddin-village

The website tells us:

Relax and unwind at The Wells Spa, a designated ‘resort spa’. Dine at The Strawberry Tree, Ireland’s first certified Wild and Organic Restaurant, or La Taverna Armento, a Southern Italian style bistro. We also host Actons Country Pub, The Orchard Café, an Organic Bakery, a Smokehouse and a Wild Food Pantry and much more. Macreddin Golf Course designed by European Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley is a short stroll from BrookLodge.

Macreddin Village has twice won AA Hotel of the Year, Ireland’s Culinary Hotel of the Year and Ireland’s Luxury Eco-Friendly Hotel. Other recent awards for The Strawberry Tree Restaurant include titles such as Best Restaurant and Best Organic Restaurant.

4. Cronroe, Ashford, Co Wicklow – Bel Air Hotel

www.belairhotelequestrian.com 

The website tells us:

Bel-Air is an old Manor House Hotel on 200 acres farm and parkland. The house and stable yard are in the middle of the estate, with the land surrounding it in all directions. There is wonderful parkland to the front of the house looking out to the coast, while the tillage land is behind the house. In the centre of the estate is old woodland, which has lovely jumping lanes. In the spring, bluebells and wild garlic bring colour and aroma to the tracks and trails. And the heady scent and sight of the vibrant yellow gorse makes your heart sing.

The stable yard is from ca 1750 and the current house was built in 1890. Both the house and the yard are listed for preservation and wherever you look you find evidence of the old days.

Even though we are less than an hour from Dublin, you feel like you are miles from anywhere and you also take a leap back in time. Bel-Air is not just a place – it’s a way of life!

5. Croney Byrne, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow – courtyard accommodation

https://croneybyrne.ie

The website tells us:

Wicklow is a great holiday destination and you will love staying in our luxurious Self Catering Holiday Homes in one of the most beautiful locations in Irelands Ancient East. Croneybyrne Courtyard is a family friendly destination where children love our park with playground and collecting their eggs for breakfast from our hens and geese. See our accommodation page for more details.
A mere 1 hour drive from Dublin city it is a great escape with many acres of wilderness on our doorstep including Clara Vale Bird Sanctuary and Wildlife Reserve where you can spend hours exploring without seeing another soul or hearing the sound of modern distractions. There you will see Sika Deer as well as Badger, Fox, Rabbits and the occasional Hare, not to mention the myriad of Birds, including the spectacular Red Kite and Spotted Woodpecker.

There are forest and mountain walks, we are near the Avonmore Trails and within easy reach of the Wicklow Way and the beautiful Vartry Tracks and Trails. Or for the more adventurous, there are challenging Rock Climbing activities as well as hiking on the highest mountain in Wicklow Lugnaquilla or the many mountain tops in the area. If you are looking for a Walking Holiday in Wicklow see our Walking/Hiking pages for a list of our top walks in the area.

6. June Blake’s Garden, Turkey House and Cow House, Tinode, Blessington, Co Wicklow – June Blake’s Garden, see above 

http://www.juneblake.ie/cms/ 

7. Rathsallagh, co Wicklow – accommodation €€

Rathsallagh, photograph courtesy of Rathsallagh House.

www.rathsallagh.com

It was built around 1750 as stables and converted in 1798. The range consists of four wings based around a large courtyard with the main wing to the front (west) having two-storey projections to its north and south ends.

The website tells us: “Rathsallagh House has been owned and run by the O’Flynn family for over 30 years, it has a happy and relaxed atmosphere with log and turf fires in the bar and drawing rooms. The food at Rathsallagh is country house cooking at its best, Game in season and fresh fish are specialities. Breakfast in Rathsallagh is an experience in itself and has won the National Breakfast Awards a record four times.

Rathsallagh also has conference and meeting rooms, Spa room, billiard room, and tennis court and is surrounded by the magnificant Rathsallagh Golf Club.

Joanna and David at Rathsallagh, photograph courtesy of Rathsallagh House.
Rathsallagh House, County Wicklow, photograph courtesy of Rathsallagh House.
Rathsallagh, photograph courtesy of Rathsallagh House.
J Channing RS Rooms, Rathsallagh, photograph courtesy of Rathsallagh House.
Rathsallagh, photograph courtesy of Rathsallagh House.

8. Summerhill House Hotel, County Wicklow

https://summerhillhousehotel.com

The website tells us: “Summerhill House Hotel is where glamour and the countryside blend in one of Ireland’s prettiest villages. Our location in the cosy village of Enniskerry is a gloriously refreshing antidote to city living or stressful lives. Reconnect with family and friends and let the kids run free. Lose track of time as you breathe in clean air, stride for miles through nature walks on your doorstep, stargaze under big skies, and, most importantly – relax, with a dose of the finest Wicklow hospitality.

9. Tinakilly House, Rathnew, Co Wicklow – – country house hotel

https://tinakilly.ie 

The website tells us:

Set in 14 acres of mature landscaped gardens overlooking the Irish Sea Tinakilly offers peace and tranquillity yet is only 45 minutes from Dublin. This stunning award winning Country House Hotel in Wicklow is steeped in history and oozes charm and sophistication.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 304. “A house of 1870 by James Franklin Fuller, built for Commander Robert Charles Halpin, RN, who commended the steamship Great Eastern when she laid the first Atlantic cable. In vaguely Queen Anne revival style; entrance front with two bay centre between three sided bows; pedimented porch. Roof on bracket cornice with central dormer. Side elevation with central three sided bow. Very impressive central hall, an early example of the hall-cum-living room which was to become an almost obligatory feature of late Victorian and Edwardian country houses; with an imperial staircase rising to a bridge gallery which continues around two of the walls. The ceiling is elaborately coved and coffered; the soffits of the stairs and gallery are richly ornamented with plasterwork. The fireplace is surmounted by a triple window, so that the flue appears to vanish; a conceit which, like the “living hall” itself, became increasingly popular towards the turn of the century. Halpin died 1894; his widow was living at Tinakilly 1912.” 

The website gives us the history:

Tinakilly House was constructed for Captain Robert Halpin, who was born in Wicklow Town and who succeeded in becoming Commander of The Great Eastern when it laid most of the world’s transoceanic telegraph cables.  The cable connecting Europe to America was laid in 1866 from Valentia Bay in Ireland to Hearts Content in Canada.  A section of this cable and a fine colour print of The Great Eastern can be seen today in Tinakilly Country House Hotel & Gardens.  Most of Captain Halpin’s memorabilia is in the National Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire.

Halpin is reputed to have been given an open cheque by the British Government to build his new mansion in gratitude for his contribution to improving world communications and thereby world trade.  He recruited the then very fashionable Irish architect, James Franklin Fuller, to design the house. The timber, which is so evident and gives such character, was selected in London by Halpin. The doors on the ground floor are of Burmese mahogany with many panels of different woods, the best of which are in “birds eye” maple. The architraves window shutters and stairs are in American pitch pine. Fireplaces were imported from Italy with the exception of the drawing room where a fine Georgian one graces the room.

In 1870 the land extended to 400 acres, two Head Gardener’s were employed, one for inside the walled garden to grow fruit and vegetables and the other to supervise the seven acres of pleasure gardens. There are fine stands of beech eucalyptus and evergreen oak while two giant sequoias (American Redwood) are at either end of the old tennis court. The site chosen for the house is on elevated ground two miles north of Wicklow Town, overlooking Broadlough Bird Sanctuary and the Irish Sea.

Halpin married the daughter of a wealthy Canadian whaling merchant. They had three daughters, the youngest of whom, Belle, lived in Tinakilly until the early 1950’s. Captain Halpin died at the young age of 58 from blood poisoning after cutting his toe.

In 1949 the house and lands were purchased by Augustus Cullen, a Wicklow solicitor. The Trustee’s sold on condition that Belle Halpin retain the house for her lifetime, which she did until 1952. Rumour has it that her ghost continued to occupy the house as well as Miss Halpin’s housekeeper – hence the Cullen’s never took occupation. During the last six years of Mr Cullen’s ownership, the house was only used in the summer when it was rented by a group of Jesuit priests for summer retreats.  Any ghosts quickly departed.

In 1959 the house and lands were sold to Mr Gunther Smith whose nephew, Mr Heinrich Rolfe, inherited the property in 1962.  His wife ran the house as a guesthouse while Mr Rolfe concentrated on farming.  A colourful Frenchman called Jean Claude Thibaud then rented the house and ran it as a “Restaurant Francais”.  A thatched cottage bar was constructed in the hall while stucco plaster on the dining room walls appeared to give an effect of “waves by the sea”.  One day Jean Claude discovered his kitchen chimney was blocked by the home of a family of building crows.  Not wishing to climb out onto the roof to discover which of the 36 chimney pots needed freeing, he took a sledgehammer to a top floor bedroom and through the flue of a fireplace allowing the smoke into the bedroom.  He then opened the window and closed the door.  A French solution to an Irish problem.

In 1978 an Irish couple, Dermot & Anne Garland, who had experience in running the Pembroke Restaurant in Dublin, swapped with the Thibauds and completed a purchase agreement for Tinakilly House. The Garland’s redecorated Tinakilly and ran a successful restaurant. Dermot tragically died leaving Anne to struggle on with their two young sons.

In 1982 Tinakilly sold to William & Bee Power, who decided to develop a full hotel putting bathrooms ensuite and installing a modern fully equipped kitchen. Redecorating and furnishing of the hotel was undertaken by William & Bee to ensure the homely Victorian character so evident to the visitor today. Great care has been taken in all reconstruction work to maintain the nautical theme.  Bedrooms were named after ships. 

In 1991 the Power’s constructed 15 suites all overlooking the Irish Sea and Broadlough Bird Sanctuary.  Sunrise is a spectacle to behold.  The Victorian Halpin Suite was developed to cater for conferences and weddings.

In 1997 the East wing was extended northwards with the addition of 24 suites and a lift, bringing the total compliment of bedrooms to 51. Also in that year, a new dining room, the Brunel, was built to the west of the house. All of this work has been architect controlled to ensure the true character of Tinakilly is maintained. In January 2000, Tinakilly was taken over by William & Bee’s son and daughter-in-law, Raymond & Josephine.

In 2013 Tinakilly House changed hands again, the owners are passionate about this grand country manor, adding refreshing touches through out the house but always in keeping with the character. The Great Hall is alive again with chatty conservations over afternoon tea, the Brunel restaurant and menus are refreshing, wedding guest fill the house with laughter and joy.  So check back with us to see the old and new meld to give this beautiful Victorian manor a new chapter in history.

10. Tulfarris, Blessington, Co Wicklow - hotel 

www.tulfarrishotel.com

The website tells us: “Tulfarris Hotel & Golf Resort is a luxury 4 star retreat situated in the garden of Ireland, County Wicklow. Perched on the banks of the Blessington Lakes against the backdrop of the Wicklow mountains, yet only 45 minutes drive from Dublin. Offering delicious food, relaxed bars and deluxe guest accommodation, the views are breathtaking and the golf course is immense. Step back in time as you enter the 18th century Manor House which stands imposingly at the heart of our 200 acre resort. Get married, get your colleagues together or get some rest and relaxation. Tulfarris Hotel in Wicklow is yours to enjoy.

The website tells us of the history of the house:

Tulfarris House derives its name from the land it is situated on. Tulfarris comes from the Gaelic ‘Tulach Fherghuis’ meaning Fergus’ Hill.   

From a document known as the Faints, which contains legal judgements from the Tudor period, it is clear that the lands known as Tulfarris were included with the manor of Rathmore, Co. Kildare. This estate was in the possession of Gerald Fitzgerald (Garret Oge), 9th Earl of Kildare. Until 1534, the Fitzgerald dynasty dominated both the lands and events that occurred in much of Ireland. The rebellion of Gerald’s son Thomas, popularly known as Silken Thomas, resulted in the confiscation of the entire estate by the crown. In 1541, the crown to Walter Troot, Vicar of Rathmore, leased the manors of Rathmore, including Tulfarris.

Shortly afterwards in 1545, the lands were granted in full to Sir John Travers, a knight from Monkstown, Co. Dublin. Sir John Travers had an heir by his first marriage, Henry. Henry married Gennet Preston [d.1599], daughter of the third Viscount of Gormanstown [Jenico Preston, d. 1560]. Henry however, died young leaving two daughters, Mary & Catherine. John Travers died in 1562 and the lands were inherited by Henry’s daughters, Mary & Catherine.

Mary married James Eustace, 3rd Viscount of Baltinglass. After James played a leading role in the Desmond Rebellion of 1579, The Baltinglass estate including Mary’s share of Rathmore, were confiscated by the crown. Mary managed to have her share of the estate returned to her in her husband’s lifetime.

Her sister Catherine married John Cheevers of Macetown, Co. Meath. Catherine’s share of the Rathmore Estate included Tulfarris and was inherited by Catherine’s son Henry. Henry in turn married Catherine Fitzwilliam and their son Walter inherited the title to Tulfarris. Inquisitions dated 24th September 1640, detail the size of the estate at the time of Henry Cheever’s death. According to this document, Tulfarris contained one ruined Castle, 20 messuages, 70 acres of land and a manor.

Tulfarris’ turbulent history continued and in a list of outlaws intended for the House of Lords and dated 1641-1647, five entries for Tulfarris were found. During that time, the crown again confiscated Tulfarris.

Tulfarris and other properties were granted to Colonel Randall Clayton on 15th October 1667, in trust for the officers of the Cromwellian soldiers of 1649. Tulfarris was subsequently granted to Captain John Hunt of the Cromwellian soldiers of 1649. His son, Vere Hunt, later sold the land to John Borrowes of Ardenode, Co. Kildare. In 1713, Robert Graydon of Russellstown held Tulfarris. The means of transfer of ownership between Borrowes and Graydon is uncertain, however, Borrowe’s niece and granddaughter both married Graydons.

Much of the house’s more recent history is associated with the Hornridge family who held the land from the early eighteenth century until the 1950’s. James Hornridge came to Ireland from Gloucester with Cromwell’s parliamentary Army in 1659 and settled in Colemanna in Co. Carlow.

The Historical information regarding how the Hornridge’s came to own Tulfarris is unclear. His son Richard Hornridge married Hester Hogshaw of Burgage, Blessington Co. Wicklow in 1699. It is most likely that Tulfarris came into the Hornridge’s possession through this marriage.”

11. Wicklow Head Lighthouse, Dunbur Head, County Wicklow https://www.irishlandmark.com/property/wicklow-head-lighthouse/

12. Gate Lodge, Woodenbridge, Avoca, County Wicklow €€

Airbnb: https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/32381149?adults=2&category_tag=Tag%3A8047&children=0&infants=0&search_mode=flex_destinations_search&check_in=2022-07-10&check_out=2022-07-15&federated_search_id=c0dd098c-52b4-4f57-8873-90347b40e6c0&source_impression_id=p3_1652453929_%2FOAm61MZ%2FV9wewli

Beautifully restored small Castle situated in the Vale of Avoca, within walking distance of the Golf Club. Only 4km from Arklow Town and only 3km from the stunning Avoca Village. The Castle is ideal for those who are looking for a relaxing break to take in the beautiful scenery, walk ways, fishing and golfing.

The space
If you choose to book the Gatelodge, you and your guests will have full use of the Small Castle.

13. Woodstock, Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow (Druid’s Glen hotel and golf club) https://www.druidsglenresort.com

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Woodstock, which has now been converted to Druid’s Glen hotel:

p. 287. “(Tottenham, sub Ely, M/PB) A three storey five bay block of ca 1770, with  single-storey five bay block added ca 1840 by Rt Rev Lord Robert [Ponsonby] Tottenham [1773-1850], Bishop of Clogher [son of Charles Tottenham Loftus 1st Marquess of Ely], who bought the property after 1827; it had previously been rented for a period by the Lord Lieutenant, Marquess Wellesley. The centre block has a one bay breakfront and a die which was probably added by Bishop Tottenham at the same time as the single-storey Ionic portico, which is by Sir Richard Morrison. Giant blind arches in end pavilions; balustraded parapets on wings. Garden front with curved bow in central breakfront; now asymmetrical because of projecting C19 wing on one side and other additions. Hall running through the full depth of the house, divided by a screen of columns from the staircase, which is of fine solid C18 joinery; rococo plasterwork in the manner of Robert West in panels on the walls above the staircase, and curving round the apse at the back of the hall in the bow of the garden front; similar plasterwork on the ceiling of the staircase and landing. Dining room with rococo plasterwork in centre of ceiling. Large and lofty drawing room in right hand wing with frieze and cornice of elaborate C19 plasterwork, rather in the manner of Sir Richard Morrison. Handsome C19 room with bold cornice and ceiling medallion in wing flanking garden front. Sold 1947, afterwards the home of Mr and Mrs G. Van den Bergh. It is now the home of Mr and Mrs William Forwood, who have carried out a most sympathetic restoration of the house, with the help of Mr Jeremy Benson.” 

The National Inventory tells us:

Detached five-bay three-storey over basement former country house, built in 1770, now in use as a hotel / country club. The original house was probably to designs by Robert West the eminent Irish stuccodore. Two-storey wing additions added in c.1830 to designs by Sir Richard Morrison. There are later additions to the rear elevation. The walls are finished in painted lined render. A short flight of stone steps rises to the front door; it has a four-pane fanlight and is flat-headed. This is set within a projecting portico with Ionic columns. Window openings are flat-headed and have moulded surrounds; those to the piano nobile also have blocking courses and projecting cornice. The hipped roof is finished with natural slate and cast-iron rainwater goods. Chimneystacks are rendered with plain caps and clay pots. Much of the late Georgian interior has been retained; this includes rococo plaster work to the hallway, the original stair and fireplaces to principal rooms. The building is set within a large demesne which is now in use as a golf course.” [6]

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

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

[3] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/15603115/enniscorthy-castle-castle-hill-enniscorthy-enniscorthy-wexford

[4] https://www.archiseek.com/2014/johnstown-castle-county-wexford/

[5] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/15704226/johnstown-castle-johnstown-fo-by-wexford

[6] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/16401304/druids-glen-golf-club-woodstock-demesne-co-wicklow

Leixlip Castle, County Kildare: Desmond Guinness’s jewelbox of treasures

contact: Penelope Guinness
Tel: 01-6244430
Open in 2022: Jan 31, Feb 1-4, 7-11, Mar 28-31, Apr 1, 4-8, May 9-20, June 7-17, Aug 13-22, Sept 5-11, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €8, OAP/student/child €4, concessions no charge for school groups

I am publishing my Leixlip Castle blog this week to honour Desmond Guinness who died last month. The Irish Aesthete Robert O’Byrne published a thoughtful tribute on his website. [1]

It was a beautiful sunny day on Saturday June 15th 2019 when we headed to Leixlip Castle. It is just outside of Leixlip, not far from Dublin on the N4, though confusing to find when one drives into Leixlip – don’t get it confused with the Manor! Keep going through the town and you’ll see it on your left as you are heading to veer right – so don’t veer right but turn left instead. You cannot see it in advance so I’m sure one could cause an accident if a car follows close behind!

A note on the gate listed tour times – I think they were every hour at quarter past the hour, on open days. We made it in time for the 11:15 tour. We were early, so had time to walk around the grounds. This is the place so far where I most want to live! It is so beautiful, especially the garden.

We passed a gate lodge on the way in – impressive itself!

the gate lodge
view of an interesting looking building toward the back of the gate lodge

Not sure where to park, I parked outside the gate lodge. We then walked up toward the house, along a cobbled driveway with wildflower meadow alongside and gorgeous sylvan landscape.

We approached the castle: impressive with a rounded tower immediately in view and castellated wall, with gothic mullioned windows, approached by a sweeping lawn:

The oldest part of the castle, the round tower, was built in 1172 – there is a stone noting that date [2] – by Adam de Hereford, an Anglo-Norman knight. A lovely coincidence is that when I looked up Adam de Hereford on Wikipedia, I have discovered that amongst the land bestowed by Strongbow on de Hereford, was “half the vill of Aghaboe.” My Grandfather purchased the house and farm at Aghaboe, which contains the Abbey of Aghaboe in County Laois! Unfortunately the Land Commission placed a compulLsory purchase order on the land when my Grandfather, John Baggot, died in 1977. Our family was left the house and about ten acres. The family sold the remaining land and house in 1985, much to my disappointment.

Aghaboe Abbey, County Laois, 2018, founded by St. Canice in the 6th century.
the house at Aghaboe, also from our 2018 trip. It has been restored by its current owner.
the house at Aghaboe, 1981.

John Colgan has complied a chronology of Leixlip, 1200-1499. [3] According to this, the grant from King John to Adam de Hereford is given in 1202. A website called “Curious Ireland” claims that soon after the castle was built, it was used as a hunting base by King John when he was Lord of Ireland in 1185. [4]

Photograph by Robert French from National Library of Ireland Lawrence Photographic Collection, flickr constant commons.
this is the side which Mark Bence-Jones refers to as facing the river, with pointed windows that have Gothic astragals (a term used loosely to denote the glazing bars in the window)

According to Mark Bence-Jones in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses, it later belonged to the Crown [more on this later], and was then granted in 1569 to Sir Nicholas Whyte, Master of the Rolls [again, we shall learn more about these details later]. In 1731, it was sold by John Whyte to Rt Hon William Conolly, nephew and heir of Speaker Conolly, the builder of nearby Castletown. William Conolly left Leixlip for Castletown after his aunt’s death in 1752, but it remained in the Conolly family until 1914, being let to a succession of tenants. Bence-Jones writes that remodelling of the castle appears to date from when William Conolly lived in it, and also perhaps slightly later, during the tenancy of Primate Stone, which was from 1752 onwards. The wing which forms a projection on the entrance front, balancing the old round tower, was more or less rebuilt at this period, and has a regular three storey four bay front towards the river. The windows on this projection are pointed and have Gothic astragals (a term used loosely to denote the glazing bars in the window). Similar windows, Bence-Jones adds, “were pierced in the thick old wall of the entrance front, and were glazed with diamond panes, in a delightful Batty Langley manner.” [5]

Beyond the round tower in the other direction there are steps leading up to a small terrace:

Walking around a little further, we see more of the house, with multiple roof levels, and a squat round ivy-covered one storey crenellated wall:

We can see more little windows, set into the round tower, another gothic arched window, and a round window also.

Walking further around, the back part of the jumble of a building leads to an archway built into the building:

The other side of the cobbled driveway leads to outbuildings with a path down to farmbuildings. Ahead of us, was a doorway in the wall, leading to the gardens.

According to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage Buildings of Ireland website, the castle was completed in 1837. I find it hard to correlate the descriptions of the castle with the castle itself: the inventory describes:

Detached four-bay two-storey over part-raised basement rubble stone house, completed 1837, incorporating fabric of earlier castle, dated 1172, and subsequent reconstructions with two-bay two-storey advanced end bay to left (north-east), four-bay three-storey side elevation to north-east and single-bay three-storey corner tower to west on a circular plan having battlemented parapet.Set back from road in own extensive landscaped grounds. [6]

The Castle overlooks the River Liffey:

Leixlip Castle has been owned by Desmond Guinness, the founder of the Irish Georgian Society in 1958. The Georgian Society is dedicated to the conservation and research into eighteenth century Irish art and architecture. His wife Penny joined us in the front hall, before Jenny took us on a tour of the house. The tour guide, Jenny, a young Philipino woman who was hired to take care of Desmond’s parents, and has been with the family for seventeen years and at the time we visited, took care of Desmond. Before entering the house, however, we had to find where to enter!

There’s a front door to the front of the castle but moss growing on the steps indicated to me that that door is not used. We went around to the side, to the terrace. The door is small – the handle very low, so I imagined Sleepy, Doc or Grumpy opening the door! Jenny explained that the floor had to be raised and that they just cut the door to make it fit.

Jenny had us sign the book and started to tell us about the castle, when another couple arrived and joined us for the tour. There is an accompanying brochure written by Desmond Guinness about the house and its contents. Jenny told us we are allowed to take photos! I began eagerly to snap away, as well as to take notes.

History of Leixlip Castle

The pamphlet explains that the Irish name for Leixlip, Leim an Bhradain, means “leap of the salmon,” and that the name derives from the Danish Lax-Hlaup, as the village was first established by the Vikings.

The pamphlet says that the castle was built just after 1192, so this must be the part built on to the earlier 1172 tower. It was built where the Rye Water and the River Liffey meet.

From 1300, a family called Pypard lived in Leixlip. Sources online state that in 1302 Ralph Pypard “surrendered all his castles etc to the Crown, and in consequence Richard de Kakeputz, who was constable of Leixlip, was ordered to deliver it up to the king. [7] “Curious Ireland” adds that in 1316 the castle withstood a four day siege by Edward Bruce’s army. 

According to the leaflet written by Desmond Guinness, the Pypards occupied Leixlip until King Henry VII granted Leixlip to Gerald Fitzgerald 8th Earl of Kildare, upon his marriage to Dame Elizabeth Saint John, between 1485-1509. Known as “Garret the Great” (Gearóid Mór) or “The Great Earl”, he was Ireland’s premier peer. He served as Lord Deputy of Ireland from 1477 to 1494, and from 1496 onwards. His power was so great that he was called “the uncrowned King of Ireland”. A legend, retold by Nuala O’Faoláin, says that Fitzgerald was skilled in the black arts, and could shapeshift. However, he would never let his wife see him take on other forms, much to her chagrin. After much pleading, he yielded to her, and turned himself into a goldfinchbefore her very eyes. A sparrowhawk flew into the room, seized the “goldfinch”, and he was never seen again. [8]

Due to the rebellion of Silken Thomas Fitzgerald, 10th Earl of Kildare, in 1534, Leixlip Castle was taken back by the Crown. In 1569 the Manor and Castle were granted to Sir Nicholas Whyte, Master of the Rolls, and the house remained in the family for nearly 200 years.

An article in The Journal of County Kildare, based on notes on Leixlip principally taken from a pamphlet called “Leixlip Castle,” written by the late Very Rev. James Canon O’Rourke, in 1885 (when Parish Priest of Maynooth), states: 

In 1538 the Manor and Castle of Leixlip were surrendered by Matthew King, of Dublin, on which John Alen, the Chancellor, obtained a lease of them for twenty-one years; in 1561 they passed to William Vernon, gent., for a like period; and in 1569 they were granted to Sir Nicholas Whyte, Master of the  Rolls, in whose family they remained till about the beginning  of the eighteenth century.” [9]


Reverend O’Rourke continues: “Sir Nicholas Whyte’s successor at Leixlip was his fourth son, Charles, who had served in Spain, and in 1689 was Governor of the County Kildare; he died about the year 1697, was buried at Leixlip, and was succeeded by his son John, from whom, I believe, the Conollys of Castletown purchased Leixlip, which remains at present in the possession of that family.”

William James Conolly (died 1754), nephew, heir and namesake of Speaker (of the Irish House of Commons) William Conolly (1662-1729) of Castletown, County Kildare, purchased Leixlip Castle in 1731 and it remained the property of the family until 1914. It was frequently let during this period. Desmond Guinness purchased Castletown House in 1967 to preserve it from destruction, nearly ten years after purchasing Leixlip Castle!

The oval portrait is of Lady Anne Conolly (born Wentworth, daugher of Thomas Wentworth 1st Earl of Strafford), who lived in Leixlip Castle until the death of her husband’s aunt, the widow (Katherine Conyngham, daughter of General Sir Albert Conyngham of Mountcharles, County Donegal – ancestors of the Conynghams of Slane Castle) of parliament speaker William Conolly of Castletown House. Lady Anne’s husband, another William Conolly, inherited Castletown in 1752.
Jenny told us that this portrait is of Thomas Conolly. He was the son and heir of William James Conolly (d.1754) of Castletown House, by his wife Lady Anne Wentworth.. Thomas Conolly married Lady Louisa Lennox, a daughter of Charles Lennox, the 2nd Duke of Richmond. Thomas Connolly was an member of Parliament of Ireland.

Mark Bence-Jones mentions two of the tenants of Leixlip Castle during this period: in the eighteenth century, Primate George Stone, Archbishop of Armagh, “the most powerful man in Ireland in his day,” and 4th Viscount (afterwards 1st Marquess) George Townshend (1724-1807), when he was Viceroy.

O’Rourke tells us:

“Lewis, in his “ Topographical Dictionary of Ireland,” speaking of Leixlip Castle, says: — “ This venerable mansion was the favourite retreat of several of the viceroys, of whom Lord Townsend usually spent the summer here; it is at present (1837) the residence of the Hon. George Cavendish, by whom it has been modernized and greatly improved.”… 

George Cavendish (1766-1849), of Waterpark, County Cork, added “unobtrusive” battlements, according to Mark Bence-Jones. O’Rourke continues:

“In the autumn of 1856, John Michael Henry, Baron de Robeck, then a tenant of the Castle, was drowned in the Liffey during a great flood. He was High Sheriff for the County Kildare in 1834, for the County Dublin in 1838, and for the County Wicklow in 1839. His remains were deposited in the vault in the Maynooth Church tower.”… “In 1878 Captain the Honourable Cornwallis Maude, son and heir to the Earl of Montalt, took up his residence in the Castle after his marriage in this year. When the Boer war broke out, he volunteered for service, and was numbered with the dead after the disastrous Majuba Hill affair on the 27th February, 1881. The present resident in the Castle is William Mooney, Esq., j.p., who so kindly admitted the members of the County Kildare Archaeological Society into his demesne to visit the Salmon Leap, and showed them over the old Castle in 1896.”

In 1914, John de La Poer Beresford, 5th Baron Decies, Chief Press Censor, purchased the property and added the kitchen wing. Bence-Jones tells us that he replaced some of the Georgian-Gothic windows with Tudor-style mullions, and panelled one or two rooms in oak. Unable to sell it in 1923, the castle was let to more tenants, and for a while served as residence for the French ambassador. In 1945 the castle was sold to William Kavanagh (see [4], and when I googled him, I found, interestingly, a painting for auction by Whytes in 2004 of the Salmon Weir, Leixlip, and it was owned by William Kavanagh, “Rathgar, a well known specialist in the work of O’Connor in the 1920s to 1940s” ). Finally, Desmond Guinness purchased the castle in 1958. His ancestor Richard Guinness had a brewery in Leixlip in the mid eighteenth century, before Richard’s son, Arthur, founded the Guinness brewery in Dublin!

The pamphlet we obtained in the hallway states that an electric dam was built in1947, completely submerging the salmon leap.

Jenny had us sign the Guest Book and then began to tell us of the contents of the grand hallway in which we stood.

The Castle Interior

Desmond Guinness’s pamphlet describes the contents also. The black Kilkenny marble mantel was originally made for Ardgillan Castle, Balbriggan, County Dublin, in 1744. The coat of arms featured over the fireplace belongs to the Gorges family of Ratoath, County Meath. The tapestry to the right of the fireplace was made in Florence in around 1730 and a manufactory by the name of Bennini, and it has the Medici arms, with the balls. When Stephen and I travelled to Florence for a holiday, we saw these balls on many buildings.

Medici coat of arms, from the Museo Bardini in Florence, my favourite, or second to the Victoria and Albert, museum in the world!

To the right of the side door hangs a mirror from Clonfert Palace, County Galway (palace of the Church of Ireland bishops of Clonfert, unfortunately a ruin since 1950).

The dolls house is believed to have originated in County Cork:

The wooden-headed antlers are probably of German origin and come from Powerscourt, County Wicklow. The tapestry is seventeenth century and depicts Theodotus offering the head of Pompey to Caesar. [10]

The dining room, with Bavarian tapestry.

Desmond Guinness states that the dining room chairs are eighteenth century “Irish Chippendale,” and were purchased at the Malahide Castle sale in 1976, as were the two black side tables.

The tapestries, in the “Chinese taste,” were woven in Bavaria in around 1750. The picture over the fireplace is an early view of Leixlip Castle of unknown origin. The ornate frame came originally from the eighteenth century house that was replaced by the present Dromoland Castle in County Clare. There is also a picture of the Holy Family by Cambiasi, the leaflet tells us.

The picture over the fireplace is an early view of Leixlip Castle of unknown origin. The ornate frame came originally from the eighteenth century house that was replaced by the present Dromoland Castle in County Clare.

As we read the pamphlet we can see Desmond Guinness’s love of antiques and history, which brought us the great treasure that is the Georgian Society. His generosity spills from the house, in the way he let us photograph, and he teaches us patiently through his leaflet.

Our tour guide, Jenny. She has been with the Guinness’s for 17 years. The cook has been with them for 30! They must be good employers. One can see the thickness of the walls by looking at the windows. The model of the obelisk at Stillorgan, County Dublin, on the table behind – a typically Irish hunt table, according to Desmond Guinness. The obelisk is a memorial designed in 1727 by Edward Lovett Pearce for his kinswoman Lady Allen, commissioned by Lord Joshua Allen, 2nd Viscount of Stillorgan (for more on Lovett Pearce, see my entry for Altidore Castle).

We next entered the Library.

The pamphlet states that the plasterwork in the Library dates from the mid 18th Century. An Irish library cabinet stands between the windows. These windows, and the bookcases, are modern and were installed by the present owner, who also devised the print room decoration on the walls. The prints are laid out in a way similar to those of the Print Room in Castletown House, which were done by the Lennox sisters.

Print Room in Castletown House County Kildare. Desmond and his first wife, Mariga, purchased Castletown House in 1967 to preserve it from destruction. On his website in his recent entry about Desmond Guinness, Robert O’Byrne the Irish Aesthete tells us: “Today Castletown is owned by the Irish State and is rightly lauded as a splendid example of Irish design and craftsmanship. But if it had not been for Desmond’s brave initiative, and then the restoration work that he and Mariga oversaw on the house – helped by the many volunteers they inspired – Castletown would now be nothing more than a handful of old black and white photographs.”

The prints in Leixlip Castle were put up by Nicola Windgate-Saul in 1976. The engravings, according to the pamphlet, relate to the decoration in the Galerie des Glaces in Versailles, executed in 1755 by Jean Baptiste Masse, based on the seventeeth century paintings of Charles le Brun (gardener to Louis XIV I believe – see my entry on Curraghmore).

The gilt mirror over the mantel was originally in a bedroom (Lady Kildare’s, Jenny told us) at Castletown, as well as the golden plasterwork, and was made in Dublin by the firm of Francis and John Booker in the mid-18th century.

We could not identify the origin of the death mask:

A card next to the death mask, however, identified the stuffed animal below the table, a mongoose:

There are a lot of mongooses (mongeese?) in Grenada in the West Indies, I remember. They supposedly harbour rabies. One rarely sees one, however. We did have an injured one come into our garden in Grenada, which we discovered due to our dog Minky barking madly from the safety of the patio. The poor mongoose, like the one above, died. Mongoose can kill snakes and snails. I need one for my allotment!

the chandelier is nineteenth century Venetian. It reminds me of the chandeliers in Castletown:

18th-century Murano Venetian coloured and plain glass 24-light chandeliers, decorated with flower heads and moulded finials, one of three in the Long Gallery of Castletown. It is believed that Lady Louisa ordered them from Venice between 1775 and 1778.

A delightful detail in the library are the model cast iron stoves:

model cast iron stoves.

We moved from the library into the Drawing Room.

The painting over the mantelpiece is Carton, County Kildare, by Thomas Roberts. Stephen liked the globes on the mantelpiece.
Carton, County Kildare by Thomas Roberts

The pamphlet tells of the treat in the Drawing Room: the large 18th century Dolls House that originally came from Newbridge House. It was given to Desmond’s daughter Marina when she was ten years old (his children’s mother is his first wife, Mariga).

a room inside the dolls house
another dolls house room
another room in the dolls’ house

The little plates in the dolls’ house are decorated with the initials “JG” for Desmond’s granddaughter Jasmine Guinness, now a model in London. The building blocks beside the dolls’ house were for the boys.

There are also drawings of the six Mitford sisters by William Acton. These sisters are the mother and aunts of Desmond Guinness.

The one on the top left is Nancy Mitford the writer. Diana Mitford, below her, is Desmond Guinness’s mother: she left his father, Bryan Walter Guinness, in order to be with Robert Mosley, the Nazi, and Hitler was the best man at their wedding, five years after she had married Bryan Guinness. Next to Nancy on top is Unity Mitford, a friend of Hitler, and below her, Deborah, who married Andrew Cavendish, 11th Duke of Devonshire, who inherited Lismore Castle in Waterford, a real fairytale-looking castle with gardens which are open to the public.

Another picture by William Acton is of Desmond’s mother in law, Teresa Jungman, Penny’s mother – it seems an amazing coincidence that he drew both of their parents!. Desmond married Penny Cuthbertson in 1984 (thirty years after he had married his first wife, Princess Henriette Marie-Gabrielle von Urach – a member of the royal house of Wurtemburg, Germany – known as Mariga). When Jenny came to the house seventeen years ago, Teresa and her sister lived with the Guinness’s, and the sister was 99 years old!
Beneath the portrait above, under the cabinet with the deer, is a cabinet made in Killarney around 1880, which is inlaid with Irish views of ruined abbeys and round towers, and Irish wolfhounds, harps and shamrocks. Stephen gave me a box very similar for our “wooden” wedding anniversary! These Killarney items were popularised by Queen Victoria when she visited Killarney.

We were lucky to be shown the “secret door”:

Jenny opens the secret door

It led to a surprising outdoor area, which features mosaics on the walls!

and a blocked up arched doorway:

On the way to the grand staircase we passed another painting of Desmond’s mother – one she was not so fond of, as you can imagine, as it’s a bit risque. It highlights the blue of her eyes, however, which are inherited by her son.

a photograph of Desmond Guinness and his children Marina and Patrick

The woodwork of the staircase dates from the early 18th century or late 17th. The window is twentieth century and probably replaces a Venetian window, Guinness tells us in the pamphlet, in an attempt to make the interior look earlier than it is.

Mark Bence-Jones tells us that the staircase, of wood with pear-shaped balusters, appears to date from the early eighteenth century, and rises “impressively” in a separate hall behind the entrance hall.

This (below) is just something that Desmond saw at a party that tickled his fancy, I believe:

Under the turn of the stairs: the portrait is, I believe, of Desmond’s great great grandfather, the 12th Earl of Buchan, Henry David Erskine (1783-1857).

The carved wooden heads “supporting” the upstairs landing came from a shop front in Dawson Street, Dublin, where they were unrecognisable due to many layers of paint. They may be the work, Guinness tells us, of Edward Smyth who carved the Riverine heads on the facade of the Custom House in Dublin, besides much of the sculptural ornament on public buildings in Dublin.

The tapestry was woven in Brussels in the seventeenth century and depicts Caesar in a green toga, making the crossing to Brindisium, protected on the way by the goddess Fortuna, who hovers aloft. It was a present to Desmond from his mother, who brought it from France (somehow!).

a print of the 17th century tapestry
The painting is a portrait by William Hogarth of the 1st Earl of Charlemont, James Caulfeild (1728-1799) aged 13, with his mother, Elizabeth Bernard (portrait painted in 1741).
This wonderful chair is not mentioned in Desmond’s notes but Jenny told us is a copy of a Venetian chair. It sits under a French tapestry representing Plenty, Autumnm, Earth or Harvest.

Next we went upstairs. There are 14 bedrooms, all still used when there are enough guests.

This was unusually situated at the top of the stairs. It had been stolen from the lower yard, then repurchased at an auction, and so was brought indoors!
The upstairs hallway.

The first room we entered is the “Yellow room” or the “plate room.” Notice that the plates are complemented with matching candles!

The next room, the Blue Room, is one of the largest:

some sort of odd communication device on the wall
An old picture, above, of Leixlip Castle with the boat house and church – with a bit of artistic license
Jenny’s reaction to this painting was priceless. I asked her if she knows who it is or who it is by (I was thinking of that film, “Big Eyes” about painter Margaret Keane). Jenny exclaimed “What’s that doing there! How did that get there! Someone must have moved it!” She explained that it is normally on the wall in the bed alcove. Stephen suggested that someone must have found it too creepy to sleep beside! Jenny tried to remember who had stayed in the room most recently!

The next room is NOT called the “pink room,” Jenny told us. I think it’s the Chinese or Oriental room.

I believe Marina cut and pasted the prints in this hallway:

The next room is called the Chapel, so named, I believe, for the IHS above the doorway.

Jenny points out a model of the Casino in Marino
I love these curtains

The next bedroom was the grandest, and is called King John’s bedroom as the story is that he slept there. There is a painted Venus on the ceiling.

I love the enormous wardrobe with funny leonine feet with too many toes, and the still used copper bath.

Jenny told us of the time Mick Jagger and his then-wife Jerry Hall stayed in this room, and she had her photograph taken in the bath. The picture somehow got out to magazines, and a copy of the picture was kept behind the shutters, but has disappeared!

Our last room, the Tower Room, is not usually one shown to guests, I think, because it’s not always kept tidy, but Jenny found us such enthusiastic guests, along with the other couple, that we were privileged with a view of the room and even the toilet off it.

I loved these pictures, in the hall on the way to the stairs up to the attic
a framed map on the wall, featuring some structures with which Desmond Guinness was associated, including the Obelisk, also called the Conolly Folly, one of the structures which the Irish Georgian Society campaigned to have protected and restored – as well as the Hindu-Gothic gate at Dromana (see my Dromana entry), and Carton House, which Desmond and his wife Mariga rented when they returned to live in Ireland in 1955.
the Tower Room. Mark Bence-Jones tells us that the walls have been decorated with panels of an early nineteenth century paper by Dufour, Vues d’Italie.
an odd figure in the carpet
Stephen in the Tower Room, outside the bathroom, admiring the painting.
the bathroom off the Tower Room. The bath is even smaller than ours, I think!
I loved the decoration on the bathroom walls. I think it was done by Desmond Guinness’s father, if I heard correctly.
I love the way the pipe is incorporated to be a palm tree!
the stairs down from the tower room
Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington.

We explored outside before we had our indoor tour.

Across the cobbled driveway from the castle, outbuildings with a path down to farmbuildings. 
the gate to the garden. For more on this gate, see the Irish Aesthete’s blog [11]. He tells us that Desmond Guinness says these were originally part of the Dublin city reservoir or basin developed in 1721-22 adjacent to where his family later developed the well-known brewery. When the basin was filled in during the 1970s, Desmond acquired the gates.

This is the vision that met our eyes when we went through the gateway, a living arcadia:

the swimming pool is within the castellated walls in the garden
the swimming pool, covered
I asked Penny about this portico and statue. She said the portico stone was found, and they thought it looked like it came from a temple. I believe it was found in Summerhill, County Wicklow. The statue is a copy of a work by Canova. [12]

By the side of the conservatory, there is another gate, down to the farm buildings and stable, by a cottage, where Jenny and her family live.

According to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, this is “rubble stone outbuilding with half-dormer attic, c.1830.” [13]
According to the National Inventory of Historic Architecture, this is: “Detached single-bay single-storey over raised base gable-fronted rubble stone dovecote, c.1780. [14]
The National Inventory tells us that this is: Attached eight-bay single-storey lean-to rubble stone outbuilding, c.1800, with four-bay single-storey lean-to lower advanced bay to right (south-west) and series of segmental-headed integral carriageways to left. Renovated, c.1950, with some integral carriageways remodelled. [15].
to the side of the castle, beyond the seat, you can see the archway, which we saw from the other side in a photograph in the beginning of this entry.

What an amazing home!

[1] https://theirishaesthete.com/2020/08/24/a-pioneer/

[2] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/11804045/leixlip-castle-leixlip-demesne-leixlip-co-kildare

[3] http://www.kildare.ie/ehistory/index.php/leixlip-chronology-1200-1499-ad/

[4] http://curiousireland.ie/leixlip-castle-leixlip-co-kildare-1172/

[5] p. 183. 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.

[6] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/11804045/leixlip-castle-leixlip-demesne-leixlip-co-kildare

[7] A “Pipard” also built the castle near Aghaboe, according to Wickipedia, but that castle is now gone. I wonder is this the same family as “Pypard”?

[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_FitzGerald,_8th_Earl_of_Kildare

[9] This source continues:

“Sir Nicholas Whyte, Knt., was the son of James Whyte, of King’s Meadows, in the County Waterford. He was in 1564 Recorder of Waterford; in 1569 he was appointed Seneschal of the County of Wexford and Constable of the Castle of Wexford; and in 1572 he was made Master of the Rolls — an office which he held till his death on the 20th March, 1593. In 1569 he was granted the lands of St. Catherine’s, on the opposite bank of the Liffey, in the County Dublin, and in the following year he obtained a grant of the Manor of Leixlip, two castles, a water-mill, a salmon-weir, two fishing-places, called the Salmon Leap, on the river Analiffey, Priortown Meade, and other demesne lands of the manor, 6d. rent for licence to have a right  of way from Confey to Leixlip, the right of pasture on the great  common of Moncronock, and rents out of several townlands, to hold for ever in capite by the service of a fortieth part of a  knight’s fee, at a rent of £36 13s. 4d.Irish (or 1227 10s.sterling)….”


[10] https://www.discoverireland.ie/kildare/leixlip-castle

[11] https://theirishaesthete.com/2012/10/24/heavens-gate/

[12] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/11804055/leixlip-castle-leixlip-demesne-leixlip-co-kildare

[13] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/11804048/leixlip-castle-leixlip-demesne-leixlip-co-kildare

[14] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/11804058/leixlip-castle-leixlip-demesne-leixlip-co-kildare

[15] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/11804060/leixlip-castle-leixlip-demesne-leixlip-co-kildare

[16] And to finish off, if you have had the mammoth attention-span to get through this all in one go (and even if you have not!), we’ll end with a Ghost Story by Charles Robert Maturin (a favourite writer of Oscar Wilde’s):

http://www.ricorso.net/rx/library/authors/classic/Maturin_CR/Leixlip.htm

Bibliographical note: First published in The Literary Souvenir; or, Cabinet of Poetry and Romance (London: Hurst & Robinson 1825); rep. in The Grimoire and Other Supernatural Stories, collected by Montague Summers (Fortune Press 1936), pp.23-27.
Source: The Literary Souvenir, or Cabinet of Poetry and Romance (1825), at “The Literary Gothic Website” [online] – supplied by Dr. Dick Collins (Inchigeela, Co. Cork, Ireland) [accessed 30.11.2007.]

THE INCIDENTS of the following tale are not merely founded on fact, they are facts themselves, which occurred at no very distant period in my own family. The marriage of the parties, their sudden and mysterious separation, and their total alienation from each other until the last period of their mortal existence, are all facts. I cannot vouch for the truth of the supernatural solution given to all these mysteries; but I must still consider the story as a fine specimen of Gothic horrors, and can never forget the impression it made on me when I heard it related for the first time among many other thrilling traditions of the same description.

C.R.M.

The tranquillity of the Catholics of Ireland during the disturbed periods of 1715 and 1745, was most commendable, and somewhat extraordinary; to enter into an analysis of their probable motives, is not at all the object of the writer of this tale, as it is pleasanter to state the fact of their honour, than at this distance of time to assign dubious and unsatisfactory reasons for it. Many of them, however, showed a kind of secret disgust at the existing state of affairs, by quitting their family residences and wandering about like persons who were uncertain of their homes, or possibly expecting better from some near and fortunate contingency.


Among the rest was a Jacobite Baronet, who, sick of his uncongenial situation in a Whig neighbourhood, in the north – where he heard of nothing but the heroic defence of Londonderry; the barbarities of the French generals; and the resistless exhortations of the godly Mr Walker, a Presbyterian clergyman, to whom the citizens gave the title of ‘Evangelist’; – quitted his paternal residence, and about the year 1720 hired the Castle of Leixlip for three years (it was then the property of the Connollys, who let it to triennial tenants); and removed thither with his family, which consisted of three daughters – their mother having long been dead.


The Castle of Leixlip, at that period, possessed a character of romantic beauty and feudal grandeur, such as few buildings in Ireland can claim, and which is now, alas, totally effaced by the destruction of its noble woods; on the destroyers of which the writer would wish ‘a minstrel’s malison were said’. – Leixlip, though about seven miles from Dublin, has all the sequestered and picturesque character that imagination could ascribe to a landscape a hundred miles from, not only the metropolis but an inhabited town. After driving a dull mile (an Irish mile) [1] in passing from Lucan to Leixlip, the road – hedged up on one side of the high wall that bounds the demesne of the Veseys, and on the other by low enclosures, over whose rugged tops you have no view at all – at once opens on Leixlip Bridge, at almost a right angle, and displays a luxury of landscape on which the eye that has seen it even in childhood dwells with delighted recollection. – Leixlip Bridge, a rude but solid structure, projects from a high bank of the Liffey, and slopes rapidly to the opposite side, which there lies remarkably low. To the right the plantations of the Vesey’s demesne – no longer obscured by walls – almost mingle their dark woods in its stream, with the opposite ones of Marshfield and St Catherine’s. The river is scarcely visible, overshadowed as it is by the deep, rich and bending foliage of the trees. To the left it bursts out in all the brilliancy of light, washes the garden steps of the houses of Leixlip, wanders round the low walls of its churchyard, plays, with the pleasure-boat moored under the arches on which the summer-house of the Castle is raised, and then loses itself among the rich woods that once skirted those grounds to its very brink. The contrast on the other side, with the luxuriant walks, scattered shrubberies, temples seated on pinnacles, and thickets that conceal from you the sight of the river until you are on its banks, that mark the character of the grounds which are now the property of Colonel Marly, is peculiarly striking.


Visible above the highest roofs of the town, though a quarter of a mile distant from them, are the ruins of Confy Castle, a right good old predatory tower of the stirring times when blood was shed like water; and as you pass the bridge you catch a glimpse of the waterfall (or salmon-leap, as it is called) on whose noon-day lustre, or moon-light beauty, probably the rough livers of that age when Confy Castle was ‘a tower of strength’, never glanced an eye or cast a thought, as they clattered in their harness over Leixlip Bridge, or waded through the stream before that convenience was in existence.


Whether the solitude in which he lived contributed to tranquillize Sir Redmond Blaney’s feelings, or whether they had begun to rust from want of collision with those of others, it is impossible to say, but certain it is, that the good Baronet began gradually to lose his tenacity in political matters; and except when a Jacobite friend came to dine with him, and drink with many a significant ‘nod and beck and smile’, the King over the water – or the parish-priest (good man) spoke of the hopes of better times, and the final success of the right cause, and the old religion – or a Jacobite servant was heard in the solitude of the large mansion whistling ‘Charlie is my darling’, to which Sir Redmond involuntarily responded in a deep bass voice, somewhat the worse for wear, and marked with more emphasis than good discretion – except, as I have said, on such occasions, the Baronet’s politics, like his life, seemed passing away without notice or effort. Domestic calamities, too, pressed sorely on the old gentleman: of his three daughters the youngest, Jane, had disappeared in so extraordinary a manner in her childhood, that though it is but a wild, remote family tradition, I cannot help relating it:-


The girl was of uncommon beauty and intelligence, and was suffered to wander about the neighbourhood of the castle with the daughter of a servant, who was also called Jane, as a nom de caresse. One evening Jane Blaney and her young companion went far and deep into the woods; their absence created no uneasiness at the time, as these excursions were by no means unusual, till her playfellow returned home alone and weeping, at a very late hour. Her account was, that, in passing through a lane at some distance from the castle, an old woman, in the Fingallian dress (a red petticoat and a long green jacket), suddenly started out of a thicket, and took Jane Blaney by the arm: she had in her hand two rushes, one of which she threw over her shoulder, and giving the other to the child, motioned to her to do the same. Her young companion, terrified at what she saw, was running away, when Jane Blaney called after her – ‘Good-bye, good-bye, it is a long time before you will see me again.’ The girl said they then disappeared, and she found her way home as she could. An indefatigable search was immediately commenced – woods were traversed, thickets were explored, ponds were drained – all in vain. The pursuit and the hope were at length given up. Ten years afterwards, the housekeeper of Sir Redmond, having remembered that she left the key of a closet where sweetmeats were kept, on the kitchen table, returned to fetch it. As she approached the door, she heard a childish voice murmuring – ‘Cold – cold – cold how long it is since I have felt a fire!’ – She advanced, and saw, to her amazement, Jane Blaney, shrunk to half her usual size, and covered with rags, crouching over the embers of the fire. The housekeeper flew in terror from the spot, and roused the servants, but the vision had fled. The child was reported to have been seen several times afterwards, as diminutive in form, as though she had not grown an inch since she was ten years of age, and always crouching over a fire, whether in the turret-room or kitchen, complaining of cold and hunger, and apparently covered with rags. Her existence is still said to be protracted under these dismal circumstances, so unlike those of Lucy Gray in Wordsworth’s beautiful ballad:

Yet some will say, that to this day
She is a living child –
That they have met sweet Lucy Gray
Upon the lonely wild;
O’er rough and smooth she trips along,
And never looks behind;
And hums a solitary song
That whistles in the wind.

The fate of the eldest daughter was more melancholy, though less extraordinary; she was addressed by a gentleman of competent fortune and unexceptionable character: he was a Catholic, moreover; and Sir Redmond Blaney signed the marriage articles, in full satisfaction of the security of his daughter’s soul, as well as of her jointure. The marriage was celebrated at the Castle of Leixlip; and, after the bride and bridegroom had retired, the guests still remained drinking to their future happiness, when suddenly, to the great alarm of Sir Redmond and his friends, loud and piercing cries were heard to issue from the part of the castle in which the bridal chamber was situated.


Some of the more courageous hurried up stairs; it was too late – the wretched bridegroom had burst, on that fatal night, into a sudden and most horrible paroxysm of insanity. The mangled form of the unfortunate and expiring lady bore attestation to the mortal virulence with which the disease had operated on the wretched husband, who died a victim to it himself after the involuntary murder of his bride. The bodies were interred, as soon as decency would permit, and the story hushed up.


Sir Redmond’s hopes of Jane’s recovery were diminishing every day, though he still continued to listen to every wild tale told by the domestics; and all his care was supposed to be now directed towards his only surviving daughter. Anne, living in solitude, and partaking only of the very limited education of Irish females of that period, was left very much to the servants, among whom she increased her taste for superstitious and supernatural horrors, to a degree that had a most disastrous effect on her future life.


Among the numerous menials of the Castle, there was one withered crone, who had been nurse to the late Lady Blaney’s mother, and whose memory was a complete Thesaurus terrorum. The mysterious fate of Jane first encouraged her sister to listen to the wild tales of this hag, who avouched, that at one time she saw the fugitive standing before the portrait of her late mother in one of the apartments of the Castle, and muttering to herself – ‘Woe’s me, woe’s me! how little my mother thought her wee Jane would ever come to be what she is!’ But as Anne grew older she began more ‘seriously to incline’ to the hag’s promises that she could show her her future bridegroom, on the performance of certain ceremonies, which she at first revolted from as horrible and impious; but, finally, at the repeated instigation of the old woman, consented to act a part in. The period fixed upon for the performance of these unhallowed rites, was now approaching – it was near the 31st of October – the eventful night, when such ceremonies were, and still are supposed, in the North of Ireland, to be most potent in their effects. All day long the Crone took care to lower the mind of the young lady to the proper key of submissive and trembling credulity, by every horrible story she could relate; and she told them with frightful and supernatural energy. This woman was called Collogue by the family, a name equivalent to Gossip in England, or Cummer in Scotland (though her real name was Bridget Dease); and she verified the name, by the exercise of an unwearied loquacity, an indefatigable memory, and a rage for communicating, and inflicting terror, that spared no victim in the household, from the groom, whom she sent shivering to his rug, [2] to the Lady of the Castle, over whom she felt she held unbounded sway.
The 31st of October arrived – the Castle was perfectly quiet before eleven o’clock; half an hour afterwards, the Collogue and Anne Blaney were seen gliding along a passage that led to what is called King John’s Tower, where it is said that monarch received the homage of the Irish princes as Lord of Ireland and which was, at all events, the most ancient part of the structure. [3]


The Collogue opened a small door with a key which she had secreted, about her, and urged the young lady to hurry on. Anne advanced to the postern, and stood there irresolute and trembling like a timid swimmer on the bank of an unknown stream. It was a dark autumnal evening; a heavy wind sighed among the woods of the Castle, and bowed the branches of the lower trees almost to the waves of the Liffey, which, swelled by recent rains, struggled and roared amid the stones that obstructed its channel. The steep descent from the Castle lay before her, with its dark avenue of elms; a few lights still burned in the little village of Leixlip – but from the lateness of the hour it was probable they would soon be extinguished.
The lady lingered – ‘And must I go alone?’ said she, foreseeing that the terrors of her fearful journey could be aggravated by her more fearful purpose.
‘Ye must, or al

l will be spoiled,’ said the hag, shading the miserable light, that did not extend its influence above six inches on the path of the victim. ‘Ye must go alone – and I will watch for you here, dear, till you come back, and then see what will come to you at twelve o’clock.
The unfortunate girl paused. ‘Oh! Collogue, Collogue, if you would but come with me. Oh! Collogue, come with me, if it be but to the bottom of the castlehill.’


‘If I went with you, dear, we should never reach the top of it alive again, for there are them near that would tear us both in pieces.’


‘Oh! Collogue, Collogue – let me turn back then, and go to my own room – I have advanced too far, and I have done too much.’


‘And that’s what you have, dear, and so you must go further, and do more still, unless, when you return to your own room, you would see the likeness of some one instead of a handsome young bridegroom.’


The young lady looked about her for a moment, terror and wild hope trembling at her heart – then, with a sudden impulse of supernatural courage, she darted like a bird from the terrace of the Castle, the fluttering of her white garments was seen for a few moments, and then the hag who had been shading the flickering light with her hand, bolted the postern, and, placing the candle before a glazed loophole, sat down on a stone seat in the recess of the tower, to watch the event of the spell. It was an hour before the young lady returned; when her face was as pale, and her eyes as fixed, as those of a dead body, but she held in her grasp a dripping garment, a proof that her errand had been performed. She flung it into her companion’s hands, and then stood, panting and gazing wildly about her as if she knew not where she was. The hag herself grew terrified at the insane and breathless state of her victim, and hurried her to her chamber; but here the preparations for the terrible ceremonies of the night were the first objects that struck her, and, shivering at the sight, she covered her eyes with her hands, and stood immovably fixed in the middle of the room.
It needed all the hag’s persuasions (aided even by mysterious menaces), combined with the returning faculties and reviving curiosity of the poor girl, to prevail on her to go through the remaining business of the night. At length she said, as if in desperation, ‘I will go through with it: but be in the next room; and if what I dread should happen, I will ring my father’s little silver bell which I have secured for the night – and as you have a soul to be saved, Collogue, come to me at its first sound.’


The hag promised, gave her last instructions with eager and jealous minuteness, and then retired to her own room, which was adjacent to that of the young lady. Her candle had burned out, but she stirred up the embers of her turf fire, and sat, nodding over them, and smoothing the pallet from time to time, but resolved not to lie down while there was a chance of a sound from the lady’s room, for which she herself, withered as her feelings were, waited with a mingled feeling of anxiety and terror.


It was now long past midnight, and all was silent as the grave throughout the Castle. The hag dozed over the embers till her head touched her knees, then started up as the sound of the bell seemed to tinkle in her ears, then dozed again, and again started as the bell appeared to tinkle more distinctly – suddenly she was roused, not by the bell, but by the most piercing and horrible cries from the neighbouring chamber. The Cologue, aghast for the first time, at the possible consequences of the mischief she might have occasioned, hastened to the room. Anne was in convulsions, and the hag was compelled reluctantly to call up the housekeeper (removing meanwhile the implements of the ceremony), and assist in applying all the specifics known at that day, burnt feathers, etc., to restore her. When they had at length succeeded, the housekeeper was dismissed, the door was bolted, and the Collogue was left alone with Anne; the subject of their conference might have been guessed at, but was not known until many years afterwards; but Anne that night held in her hand, in the shape of a weapon with the use of which neither of them was acquainted, an evidence that her chamber had been visited by a being of no earthly form.


This evidence the hag importuned her to destroy, or to remove: but she persisted with fatal tenacity in keeping it. She locked it up, however, immediately, and seemed to think she had acquired a right, since she had grappled so fearfully with the mysteries of futurity, to know all the secrets of which that weapon might yet lead to the disclosure. But from that night it was observed that her character, her manner, and even her countenance, became altered. She grew stern and solitary, shrunk at the sight of her former associates, and imperatively forbade the slightest allusion to the circumstances which had occasioned this mysterious change.


It was a few days subsequent to this event that Anne, who after dinner had left the Chaplain reading the life of St Francis Xavier to Sir Redmond, and retired to her own room to work, and, perhaps, to muse, was surprised to hear the bell at the outer gate ring loudy and repeatedly – a sound she had never heard since her first residence in the Castle; for the few guests who resorted there came, and departed as noiselessly as humble visitors at the house of a great man generally do. Straightway there rode up the avenue of elms, which we have already mentioned, a stately gentleman, followed by four servants, all mounted, the two former having pistols in their holsters, and the two latter carrying saddle-bags before them: though it was the first week in November, the dinner hour being one o’clock, Anne had light enough to notice all these circumstances. The arrival of the stranger seemed to cause much, though not unwelcome tumult in the Castle; orders were loudly and hastily given for the accommodation of the servants and horses – steps were heard traversing the numerous passages for a full hour – then all was still; and it was said that Sir Redmond had locked with his own hand the door of the room where he and the stranger sat, and desired that no one should dare to approach it. About two hours afterwards, a female servant came with orders from her master, to have a plentiful supper ready by eight o’clock, at which he desired the presence of his daughter. The family establishment was on a handsome scale for an Irish house, and Anne had only to descend to the kitchen to order the roasted chickens to be well strewed with brown sugar according to the unrefined fashion of the day, to inspect the mixing of the bowl of sago with its allowance of a bottle of port wine and a large handful of the richest spices, and to order particularly that the pease pudding should have a huge lump of cold salt butter stuck in its centre; and then, her household cares being over, to retire to her room and array herself in a robe of white damask for the occasion.


At eight o’clock she was summoned to the supper-room. She came in, according to the fashion of the times, with the first dish; but as she passed through the ante-room, where the servants were holding lights and bearing the dishes, her sleeve was twitched, and the ghastly face of the Collogue pushed close to hers; while she muttered ‘Did not I say he would come for you, dear?’ Anne’s blood ran cold, but she advanced, saluted her father and the stranger with two low and distinct reverences, and then took her place at the table. Her feelings of awe and perhaps terror at the whisper of her associate, were not diminished by the appearance of the stranger; there was a singular and mute solemnity in his manner during the meal. He ate nothing. Sir Redmond appeared constrained, gloomy and thoughtful. At length, starting, he said (without naming the stranger’s name), ‘You will drink my daughter’s health?’ The stranger intimated his willingness to have that honour, but absently filled his glass with water; Anne put a few drops of wine into hers, and bowed towards him. At that moment, for the first time since they had met, she beheld his face – it was pale as that of a corpse. The deadly whiteness of his cheeks and lips, the hollow and distant sound of his voice, and the strange lustre of his large dark moveless eyes, strongly fixed on her, made her pause and even tremble as she raised the glass to her lips; she set it down, and then with another silent reverence retired to her chamber.


There she found Bridget Dease, busy in collecting the turf that burned on the hearth, for there was no grate in the apartment. ‘Why are you here?’ she said, impatiently.


The hag turned on her, with a ghastly grin of congratulation, ‘Did not I tell you that he would come for you?’


‘I believe he has,’ said the unfortunate girl, sinking into the huge wicker chair by her bedside; ‘for never did I see mortal with such a look.’
‘But is not he a fine stately gentleman?’ pursued the hag.


‘He looks as if he were not of this world,’ said Anne.


‘Of this world, or of the next,’ said the hag, raising her bony fore-finger, ‘mark my words – so sure as the – (here she repeated some of the horrible formularies of the 31st of October) – so sure he will be your bridegroom.’
‘Then I shall be the bride of a corpse,’ said Anne; ‘for he I saw tonight is no living man.’


A fortnight elapsed, and whether Anne became reconciled to the features she had thought so ghastly, by the discovery that they were the handsomest she had ever beheld – and that the voice, whose sound at first was so strange and unearthly, was subdued into a tone of plaintive softness when addressing her or whether it is impossible for two young persons with unoccupied hearts to meet in the country, and meet often, to gaze silently on the same stream, wander under the same trees, and listen together to the wind that waves the branches, without experiencing an assimilation of feeling rapidly succeeding an assimilation of taste; – or whether it was from all these causes combined, but in less than a month Anne heard the declaration of the stranger’s passion with many a blush, though without a sigh. He now avowed his name and rank. He stated himself to be a Scottish Baronet, of the name of Sir Richard Maxwell; family misfortunes had driven him from his country, and forever precluded the possibility of his return: he had transferred his property to Ireland, and purposed to fix his residence there for life. Such was his statement. The courtship of those days was brief and simple. Anne became the wife of Sir Richard, and, I believe, they resided with her father till his death, when they removed to their estate in the North. There they remained for several years, in tranquility and happiness, and had a numerous family. Sir Richard’s conduct was marked by but two peculiarities: he not only shunned the intercourse, but the sight of any of his countrymen, and, if he happened to hear that a Scotsman had arrived in the neighbouring town, he shut himself up till assured of the stranger’s departure. The other was his custom of retiring to his own chamber, and remaining invisible to his family on the anniversary of the 31st of October. The lady, who had her own associations connected with that period, only questioned him once on the subject of this seclusion, and was then solemnly and even sternly enjoined never to repeat her inquiry. Matters stood thus, somewhat mysteriously, but not unhappily, when on a sudden, without any cause assigned or assignable, Sir Richard and Lady Maxwell parted, and never more met in this world, nor was she ever permitted to see one of her children to her dying hour. He continued to live at the family mansion and she fixed her residence with a distant relative in a remote part of the country. So total was the disunion, that the name of either was never heard to pass the other’s lips, from the moment of separation until that of dissolution.


Lady Maxwell survived Sir Richard forty years, living to the great age of ninety-six; and, according to a promise, previously given, disclosed to a descendent with whom she had lived, the following extraordinary circumstances.


She said that on the night of the 31st of October, about seventy-five years before, at the instigation of her ill-advising attendant, she had washed one of her garments in a place where four streams met, and peformed other unhallowed ceremonies under the direction of the Collogue, in the expectation that her future husband would appear to her in her chamber at twelve o’clock that night. The critical moment arrived, but with it no lover-like form. A vision of indescribable horror approached her bed, and flinging at her an iron weapon of a shape and construction unknown to her, bade her ‘recognize her future husband by that.’ The terrors of this visit soon deprived her of her senses; but on her recovery, she persisted, as has been said, in keeping the fearful pledge of the reality of the vision, which, on examination, appeared to be incrusted with blood. It remained concealed in the inmost drawer of her cabinet till the morning of the separation. On that morning, Sir Richard Maxwell rose before daylight to join a hunting party – he wanted a knife for some accidental purpose, and, missing his own, called to Lady Maxwell, who was still in bed, to lend him one. The lady, who was half asleep, answered, that in such a drawer of her cabinet he would find one. He went, however, to another, and the next moment she was fully awakened by seeing her husband present the terrible weapon to her throat, and threaten her with instant death unless she disclosed how she came by it. She supplicated for life, and then, in an agony of horror and contrition, told the tale of that eventful night. He gazed at her for a moment with a countenance which rage, hatred, and despair converted, as she avowed, into a living likeness of the demon-visage she had once beheld (so singularly was the fated resemblance fulfilled), and then exclaiming, ‘You won me by the devil’s aid, but you shall not keep me long,’ left her – to meet no more in this world. Her husband’s secret was not unknown to the lady, though the means by which she became possessed of it were wholly unwarrantable. Her curiosity had been strongly excited by her husband’s aversion to his countrymen, and it was so – stimulated by the arrival of a Scottish gentleman in the neighbourhood some time before, who professed himself formerly acquainted with Sir Richard, and spoke mysteriously of the causes that drove him from his country – that she contrived to procure an interview with him under a feigned name, and obtained from him the knowledge of circumstances which embittered her after-life to its latest hour. His story was this:


Sir Richard Maxwell was at deadly feud with a younger brother; a family feast was proposed to reconcile them, and as the use of knives and forks was then unknown in the Highlands, the company met armed with their dirks for the purpose of carving. They drank deeply; the feast, instead of harmonizing, began to inflame their spirits; the topics of old strife were renewed; hands, that at first touched their weapons in defiance, drew them at last in fury, and in the fray, Sir Richard mortally wounded his brother. His life was with difficulty saved from the vengeance of the clan, and he was hurried towards the seacoast, near which the house stood, and concealed there till a vessel could be procured to convey him to Ireland. He embarked on the night of the 31st of October, and while he was traversing the deck in unutterable agony of spirit, his hand accidentally touched the dirk which he had unconsciously worn ever since the fatal night. He drew it, and, praying ‘that the guilt of his brother’s blood might be as far from his soul, as he could fling that weapon from his body,’ sent it with all his strength into the air. This instrument he found secreted in the lady’s cabinet, and whether he really believed her to have become possessed of it by supernatural means, or whether he feared his wife was a secret witness of his crime, has not been ascertained, but the result was what I have stated.


The separation took place on the discovery: – for the rest,

I know not how the truth may be,
I tell the Tale as ’twas told to me.

1. An Irish mile – a distance of undetermined length. In the West of Ireland, any distance up to about sixty kilometres may be expressed as ‘about a mile or so.’
2. His rug – the horse-rug under which he sleeps.
3. King John – king of England 1199-1216. Was Lord of Ireland for a brief period; having mortally insulted the Irish chieftains, he was hastily withdrawn by his father, the great Henry II (1154-1189). This is why he was called ‘John Lackland.’