Abandoned ireland

 

Jigginstown House,

Kildare.

Documenting our Heritage

Many thanks to Ger McCarthy, Chairman of the County Kildare Federation of Local History Groups for his help with Jiggins. Ger has been researching and photograph Irish Country Houses for more than thirty years and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject.


Jigginstown also known as Sigginstown House was constructed under the guidance of Thomas Wentworth, the Earl of Stafford and who was also Lord Deputy of Ireland during the reign of Charles I.


Thomas Wentworth had planned the building with the idea that it could be home to the king on royal visits to Ireland.


From 1632 to 1639, Wentworth instituted a harsh rule as Lord Deputy of Ireland. Recalled back to England, he became a leading advisor to the king, attempting to strengthen the royal position against parliament.


However Thomas Wentworth was accused of treason in the House of Commons and never lived to see if Jigginstown indeed housed a king, as he was sentenced to death. Charles I signed the death warrant and Wentworth was executed before a crowd of about 200,000 on 12 May 1641. After his death there is still controversy today as to whether Jigginstown was ever really finished however it was described as ‘In a manner finished’ at a cost of £6000. Thomas Wentworth was certainly frequently resident at Jigginstown as many of his letters are written from ‘The Naas’.


Following news of Strafford's execution, Ireland rose in rebellion in October 1641. It was at Jigginstown that James Butler, the 1st Duke of Ormonde signed the Cessation with the Confederates in 1643.

Ormonde had been working as head of government of Ireland under Stafford and had been treated with great favour. After the Restoration, Ormonde went on to move some of the marble door-cases and chimney-pieces from Jigginstown to Kilkenny Castle or Dunmore House.


Cromwell in his 'Excursions through Ireland' credits the actual construction of Jigginstown Castle to a member of the Allen family - most likely John Allen, who was noted for his taste in architecture. John Allen who had come to Ireland from Holland was described as 'being skilful in architecture, was esteemed and consulted by the most eminent of the nobility in there buildings'.


The building itself measures 448ft in length and consists of fine vaulted cellars and a number of tall rooms on the ground floor, reached by an outside stairs. The actual frontage is 380 feet long, and flanked by two projecting pavilions or towers. According to tradition there was an elaborate formal layout with terraces and fishponds. The house was one of the first built with red-brick in Ireland,  it was said that the bricks were of Dutch manufacture, and that a human chain was formed stretching from Dublin to Jigginstown so that each brick passed from hand to hand from Dublin until it reached Jigginstown.


Jigginstown passed into ownership of the Fitzwilliam family and over many years almost disappeared into the undergrowth. However the Fitzwilliam's handed Jigginstown over to the Irish state in the late 1960s and eventually all the undergrowth was cleared away from the structure by a group of volunteers. The OPW (office of public works) has been carrying out work on the site for some number of years with regard to using the basement as a heritage museum for the Naas area.

Jigginstown House,
Kildare
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