Conolly’s Folly, Kildare, Ireland

My Sister is now building an obleix to answer a vistow from the bake of Castletown house; it will cost her three or four hundred pounds at least, but I believe more. I really wonder how she can dow so much and live as she duse.”- Mary Jones March 1740. (Sister of Katherine Conolly)

I have very vivid memories of visiting Conolly’s Folly when I was a child, the sheer height of the obelisk captured my imagination and not understanding fully what its purpose was led to a greater interest in finding out why and when it was built. Before I explain about the Folly’s origins I must say that my visit was a slight disappointment owing to the fact that the structure is now surrounded by a ridiculously high security fence, as a child I liked being able to go under the arches and the fact that it lay untouched in a field had made it truly magical. Thankfully there seems to be a campaign generating pace to try and find a permanent solution to both protecting the Folly and also allowing for better access.

The Folly was originally built as a famine relief project during the winter of 1739/40 for the starving tenants of Castletown. The obelisk is visible from the windows of the long gallery in nearby Castletown House and marks the end of a four kilometre vista at the rear of the house, however the structure actually stands on the neighbouring Carton estate. The Folly’s construction was funded by Katherine Conolly for around £400 and was designed by the German architect Richard Castle who also designed Leinster House and Powerscourt House to name just two. It stands 42 metres in height and is composed of several arches adorned with eagles and stone pineapples! It is topped with a massive obelisk pillar.

Though the fence is extremely irritating Conolly’s Folly is certainly worth a visit, and hopefully in time an alternative and more fitting form of protection can be erected.

GPS: 53.36944, -6.55991

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