Abandoned ireland


Sillahertane House,


Documenting our Heritage

The name Sillahertane is derived from the Irish word meaning a place surrounded by sallows or willows.

Sillahertane House was built sometime after April 1830 when the entire Sillahertane townland of 1,700 acres was sold by the Orpen family to Sir John Borlase Warren of Warren’s Court, Co. Cork.

In 1837, the property was described as Sillerdine Cottage, the residence of J. B. Warren, Esq.

Sillahertane House appears to have been built in two phases - the first the front entrance, gable-ended, with rubble walls. The second of three large bows sweeping around the house, with extremely large windows and a door leading out into the garden. A stable yard beside the house has high entrance pillars, substantial two-storey cottages and carriage houses.

In the first phase of the house John Borlase Warren had built a rather simple dwelling. Then in 1870 Francis Wise Low purchased the land and house and began to dramatically improve the size and appearance of the house. In 1876 his renovations more than doubled the rateable valuation of Sillahertane House from £8 to £18 5s. per annum.   It was probably at this time that the house formerly known as Warren’s Lodge, was renamed Sillahertane House. Francis Wise Low’s daughter Louisa later published a book entitled "Happy Days in the Kingdom of Kerry" recounting  her memories of Sillahertane House during this period.

At the 1901 Census of Ireland, Sillahertane House was described on Sunday 31st March as a shooting lodge and a house of the first quality consisting of more than thirteen rooms, with 19 front windows. On the night of the census Sillahertane House was occupied by Thomas and Sarah Anderson, the Low’s gardener and his wife.

Shortly after the 1901 Census, the annual rateable valuation of Sillahertane House more than doubled from £18 5s to £40, when Low undertook further renovations, and added another nine rooms to Sillahertane House. However, Francis Wise Low did not live long enough to enjoy the improvements made at Sillahertane.  He died at Sillahertane on 14th August 1904 in his 96th year. On his death, the ownership of Sillahertane House and townland was transferred to his wife Sarah. At this time the estate was valued at the very substantial figure of £170,039 14s. 9d.

At the 1911 Census on Sunday 2nd April, Sillahertane House was recorded as comprising 22 rooms, and was occupied solely by John Francis Trant, the brother of widowed Sarah Low.  The census also recorded extensive out-offices in the grounds of the house including a stable, harness room, coach house, calf house, two fowl houses, a boiling house, workshop, four sheds, store and a laundry.

At the onset of the Civil War in Ireland, the Low family relocated to England for safety and left the gardener Edward Fitzsimmons in charge of Sillahertane House. Edward Fitzsimmons who had formerly worked in Lota Lodge, Glanmire, county Cork, and his pregnant new bride settled in Sillahertane, and reared a young family there over the next decade.

During the troubles the house was never burned however it was repeatedly looted, and its fittings, furnishings and even its roof were all removed. At this time, the annual rateable valuation of Sillahertane House fell from £40 to £2, which gives some indication of the extent of the damage done.

Nevertheless the Low family held on to Sillahertane Estate for another fifteen years, until in June 1937 they sold the Estate of 1,443 acres and the associated hunting rights, to Canon Aylmer Richard Armstrong of Kenmare.

Sillahertane House proved too expensive to renovate and repair, and on his retirement, Canon Armstrong moved into the local disused police barracks about a mile from Sillahertane House.  Canon Armstrong remained living at the former police barracks until his death in 1966, when his estate reverted to his heirs, Aylmer Bernard Armstrong (died 30th July 1986), Ruth Rose Alcock (died 10th September 1995), and Simon Richard Armstrong (died 9th May 1996).

In July 1999 the trustees of the Armstrong family sold the remaining lands of the Sillahertane Estate to Morgan Roche.