Abandoned ireland


Ardtully House,


Documenting our Heritage

Tradition relates that stones from a thirteenth century monastery that formerly existed on this site were used to build a castle by the McFineen McCarthys, who held the surrounding lands until the arrival of Cromwell in Ireland. In the middle of the seventeenth century, Colonel Donough MacFineen forfeited the estate and the castle was destroyed during Cromwell's conquest.

The Ardtully estate, deriving its name from the Irish 'Ardtuillighe', came into the possession of the Orpen family at the end of the seventeenth century. Captain Richard Orpen fought in King William's army at the Boyne and later settled at Killowen, County Kerry where he was appointed a Magistrate.

The Orphen family later built a mansion house at Ardtully. This structure is shown on the first edition ordnance survey map, circa 1846, surrounded by four circular towers, probably the remains of the old McFineen McCarthy castle.

In 1837 this house was the residence of Richard Orpen Townsend, first son of Richard Orpen and Anna Townsend. He had assumed the additional name of Towsend as a condition to an inheritance from his mother's family. He had a daughter, Anna Sarah, but the Ardtully estate seems to have been inherited by a nephew, Sir Richard John Theodore Orpen (1788-1876).

In 1847, Sir Richard demolished the earlier house and the remains of the castle, replacing it with a fine five-bay two-storey Scottish-Baronial style house. The twenty-seven room mansion had a circular three-storey battlemented corner tower on the southeast corner and a three-storey corbelled circular turret on the east corner.

The 1901 census record the occupants of the house as Richard Hugh Millerd Orpen who was 71 years of age and a retired solicitor; his wife, Amy Noble Orpen age 52; there five daughters, Constance, Norah, Olive, Mary and Ida; and their son, Richard Hugh Orpen, who records his occupation as a Civil Engineer. The Orpens had a house staff of just two: Mary Connor, age 23, Cook and Mary O Sullivan, age 21, Parlour Maid.

Richard Hugh Orpen inherited the estate from his father, and when he died in 1911, the estate was inherited by his brother, Raymond William Orpen. Raymond was a doctor who had worked extensively in West Africa.

A sad end came to Ardtully in 1921. One night, during the Irish War of Independence, IRA irregulars broke into the house and after dousing the furniture with petrol, set the place alight. By the following morning it had been reduced to a smouldering wreck.

This article is the copyright of Tarquin Blake, Abandoned Ireland, and may not be reproduced in any form without permission.