Castletown House, Celbridge, Co. Kildare
Castletown House is Ireland’s largest and first Palladian country house built in 1722 for William Conolly, the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, in the 1720s. he façade was almost certainly designed by the Italian architect, Alessandro Galilei, while the Irish architect Sir Edward Lovett Pearce added the wings.
It is said to be the only Irish Palladian house to have been built with the correct classical proportions, it is said to have influenced the design of the White House in Washington.
The house remained in the Connolly family until 1965 when the house was purchased by a property developer, who quickly built the Castletown housing estate very close to the main house. Fortunately the house and the rest of the estate was saved in 1967 when it was purchased by the Hon. Desmond Guinness, founder of the Irish Georgian Society for £93,000. The house was opened to the public in the same year and restoration work began, funded by the Irish Georgian Society and private benefactors. Since 2994 the property has been owned and managed by the Office of Public Works.
Inside there are some stunning interiors and ornate plasterworks to rival any property in Europe. The house is well worth a visit, is within a quick 30 minute drive from the outskirts of Dublin and there are plenty of things to do there to justify a day trip on a nice day.
Connolly’s Folly was constructed by his widow, Katherine Connolly. It was in fact an act of philanthropy as it was commissioned during the famine of 1740-41 to provide paid employment to hundreds local families after a hard winter. The Obelisk can be see from Castletown House over 2 miles away, however the folly wasn’t actually built on the Connolly estate, but on neighbouring Carton, home of the Fitzgerald family, Dukes of Leinster.
Heritage Ireland Open Wednesdays
Castletown House is on view every Wednesday thanks to Heritage Ireland and the Office of Public Works.