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A visit to Castletown House in Co. Kildare

We have already told you about our impressions about the mansion of Farmleigh, located inside Phoenix Park. When we took into account that the mansion of Farmleigh is associated with the name Guinness, we decided to go to the hometown of the founder of this beer empire, which is located in Celsbridge, Co. Kildare.

But on the way we saw a sign, pointing to the mansion Castletown House and knowing that this mansion is also associated with the name Guinness we decided to go to this place. Our impression about Castletown House and its surrounding areas is this...

On one side, is the magnificent landscape design and exterior view and on the other side, the badly restored interior view of the mansion. But let’s begin this story from Castletown House’s history.

Castletown House in Co.Kildare

At the beginning of the XVII century the family of Patrick Connoly lived in Ireland. They owned land and inns across ten counties in Ireland. One of his sons, William, after getting a large amount of heritage from his father and then multiplying it by many times during his practises as a solicitor, became the richest man in Ireland.

Another thing that helped him achieve this goal was the fact that he was Irish and that he belonged to the Catholic Community. The thing was that lots of Irish people wanted to do business with him rather then English land-lords. And at that time Protestants were usually the richer people.

Castletown House in Co.Kildare

In 1709, in a place called Celbridge, William Connoly bought a patch of land which would later become the location of Castletown House. An interesting fact is that this mansion was built in the grand style of Palladium, which was a large influential factor in the construction of the White House, in Washington D.C.

Boasting with intelligence and riches to spare, William Connoly took up a post as the speaker for the Irish House of Commons. To fully judge the success of W. Connoly’s political life in Ireland, you have to know that he has his own bust in the Irish Presidential Residence.

Castletown House in Co.Kildare

Sadly, William didn’t have any children to give Castletown House to so when he died so it went to William’s nephew, and then, to his great-nephew Tom. Tom Connoly married Lady Laoisa Lennox, who had a very well known family. Together they decided to reconstruct the mansion. But sadly, the gracious longing to reconstruct Castletown House was never finished because this couple never had children.

As you can see Castletown House goes into the ownership of people who were far relatives of the Connoly family. We dare to propose that this was the main reason for the neglect to Castletown House in the XIX century. We can only guess what would have happened to this mansion if in 1967 Desmond Guinness didn’t save it from destruction. With the aims of restoration, he bought the entire area of Castletown House and gave it to the Irish Georgian Society Fund.

Castletown House in Co.Kildare

Since then and until present day, huge work is being done on restoring Castletown House, but you can understand that restoring one hundred rooms in a mansion that has been neglected for a long time is far from easy. This is why visiting the rooms of the mansion didn’t particularly impress us. Of course if you get the chance to go to one of the costumed party’s that are sometimes held in Castletown House, this can compensate for the unfinished work inside of the mansion.

In conclusion we’ll note that in the area of Castletown House, you’ll also find Connoly’s Folly and the Wonderful Barn, which were build as a request for William Collin’s wife, Katherine. She gave poor people work by letting them build these unusual structures, which helped them get the money to survive after the famine in Ireland that lasted from 1740 to 1741. The Wonderful Barn was built to store grain in case of another famine.

The last thing we’ll say about Castletown House is that this place is connected to the life of the famed Irish writer and political figure, Jonathan Swift, author of the famous Gulliver’s Travels.

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