Tyrone House, Galway, Ireland

Tyrone House is a dramatic 18th century ruin situated on a promontory by the estuary of the Kilcolgan River in County Galway. It was built during the 1770s under the direction of Christopher French St. George and designed by John Roberts of Waterford, who also designed Moore Hall in Mayo (previously featured here) and Waterford Cathedral. The St. George family were of old Galwegian and Norman ancestry who had become more powerful through marriage and intermingling with local landowners. Though the house is still truly striking it is hard to imagine how the area used to look, on approach you would have first past a deer park before coming to the beautiful walled gardens with their twelve foot high limestone walls, these were built to grow peaches, pears, apples and cherry trees, also white grapes and black Hamburg grapes were grown. The substantial walls were to protect from the strong winds but take advantage of the warm subtropical gulf stream.

Tyrone House and the St. George family became a byword for grandeur and the house was decorated to the highest stipulation. In the main entrance hall guests would have immediately been impressed by the life-size white marble statue of St. George Ussher St. George, Baron Saint George, dressed in the regalia of a Roman Emperor. In the early 1800s the house became a centre for entertainment during the foxhunting season. The St. Georges occupied the house until the death of Honoria Kane St. George, the widow of the second Christopher St. George in 1905. After the departure of the family the house was used to host balls and dances, however the house was soon utterly destroyed by arson during the War of Independence in 1920 by a local IRA unit who believed the Black and Tans were going to use it as a base. On the night it was burnt only an elderly and bed-bound caretaker was in the house, he was carried downstairs in his bed, and left in another building while Tyrone House was ignited. Prior to burning most of the house was ransacked and the marble statue of Baron Saint George was decapitated and smashed to pieces.

GPS: 53.20707, -8.90969

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