Postcards are a great source for pictures of old castles, houses and follies – many long gone – and can lead one off in all sorts of directions looking for more information.
Useful links added where available.
Click on images to enlarge.
Page updated 12/4/2018
Ballygally Castle, Ballygally, Co.Antrim
Ballygally Castle overlooks the sea at the head of Ballygally Bay. Now run as a hotel, it is the only 17th century building still used as a residence in Northern Ireland, and is reputed to be one of the most haunted places in all of Ulster.
Card published by Leslie Stuart.
The Curfew Tower, Cushendall, Co.Antrim
An unusual location for a folly – right in the middle of Cushendall village – from an early card by D.J. Dooey & Co., Ballymena.
More here: Hearth Housing – Curfew Tower
Kilwaughter Castle, Larne, Co.Antrim
A card from the ‘Reliable Series’ published by….
More information here: Kilwaughter Castle
Convamore House, Ballyhooly, Co.Cork
A large classical house built on an elevated site overlooking the River Blackwater, constructed for William Hare, the 1st Earl of Listowel. It remained the Irish seat of the family until it was burned by Republicans in 1921, and is now a ruin.
Kilbrittain Castle, Bandon, Co.Cork
Above: An early card of Kilbrittain Castle, nr.Bandon, Co.Cork.
Published by E.C.Dawson, Bandon.
The Castle, Buttevant, Cork
Originally a castle of the Barry family, Earls of Barrymore, sold by them in the early 19th century to John Anderson of Fermoy, who restored it as a castellated house and gave it to his eldest son Sir James Anderson. Sir James lived there until the mid 1840s. William Roche occupied the building valued at £37 in the early 1850s. He held the property from Viscount Doneraile and D.R. Browning held a house, flour mill and offices valued at £120 from Roche. The castle had various occupants in the later 19th century and was last occupied in the early 20th century. It is now a ruin.
Lord Bantry’s Cottage, Glengarriff, Co.Cork
Built by the 1st Earl of Bantry in 1815 on the site of an earlier lodge and in the “cottage orné” style made popular by the Regency architect, John Nash. Apparently the earl preferred to live in the lodge rather than in his stately home at Bantry House. Sadly, following its sale in the 1940s and major restoration work the cottage was badly damaged by fire in 1959. Following the fire the cottage was completely rebuilt using the original stonework but not to the original design and today differs markedly from the Lawrence postcard – above. Today paying guests may stay at the cottage now titled “Glengarriff Lodge” which provides the epitome of luxury self-catering.
More here: Glengarriff Lodge
Drishane Castle, Millstreet, Co.Cork
Drishane Castle, Millstreet, Cork – unknown publisher but probably Valentines. The castle is now used as a ‘direct provision’ centre for Ireland’s burgeoning population of asylum seekers.
Castle Freke, Rosscarbery, Co.Cork
Castle Freke incorporates a 15th century tower house but is largely an 18th/19th century, mock Gothic creation. It was destroyed in an accidental fire in 1910 and despite being rebuilt was later sold off and dismantled. In 2005 it was bought back by the original family and is currently undergoing restoration.
Some recent pictures here: www.castles.nl/castle-freke
Donegal Castle, Donegal Town
Donegal Castle looks a bit shook in this card posted in 1923 – no publisher. As far as I recollect it still looked much the same the last time that I saw it circa 1993, but apparently there has been major restoration work carried out since.
Castle McGrath (Termon Castle), Pettigo, Co.Donegal
Burnt by its besieged occupants in 1641 rather than let it fall into enemy hands, the unfortunate castle is still extant but gradually returning to earth.
Left to right: An early 20th century card published by D.J. Dooey of Ballymena, and a more recent view found online.
More information here: Castle McGrath
‘The Castle, Raphoe’ – Destroyed in an accidental fire in 1838. Unknown publisher.
Castle Wellan, Co.Down
Castlewellan was built between 1856 and 1859 in the Scottish Baronial style and, happily, has survived intact to serve today as a Christian Conference Centre.
No publisher indicated.
Carrowdore Castle, Millisle, Co.Down
Carrowdore is a Gothic Revival castle, built in 1818-20 by Nicholas de La Cherois-Crommelin. Despite its overgrown and rather decrepit appearance on this postcard the castle can’t have been much more than 80 years old at the time! Surprisingly it still exists today – in private ownership – and appears in good shape judging from the contemporary view below.
The Clanbrassil Barn, Tollymore, Co.Down
A barn disguised as a church still to be found in the Tollymore Forest Park in Co.Down. Not a classic folly in that it also served as a functioning barn as well as an architectural eccentricity. Dating from the 1780’s the barn was the creation of James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Clanbrassil, and was one of a series of romantic buildings created on his estate. The big house was demolished in 1952 but the estate and many of the wonderful buildings survive and are now in public ownership. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tollymore_Forest_Park
Card by Valentines.
Hillsborough Fort, Co.Down
Published by Mrs.Johnston of Hillsborough in the 1920’s. In this view the fort, built in 1757/58 on the site of an earlier structure, doesn’t look like it will survive for much longer, but happily it did and today is open to the public. More about the Hill family and Hillsborough Castle estate here.
Kenure House, Rush, Co.Dublin
In 1964 the Kenure Park estate was sold to the Irish Land Commission, but as no buyer could be found for the house itself it eventually passed to Dublin County Council. During its final years the house saw a flurry of filming activity when scenes for “Ten Little Indians” (1965), “The Face of Fu Manchu” (1965), and “Rocket to the Moon” (1967) were shot there. However, this was not enough to prevent its demolition by the council in 1978. Today all that remains is the massive portico – a freak surrounded by a housing estate.
Castle Coole, Enniskillen, Co.Fermanagh
Above: Castle Coole former home of the Earls of Belmore and now a National Trust property. Card published by Ranscombe, Douglas, Isle of Man.
Below: a view of the Salon published by Photo Precision Ltd., St.Albans, England.
Castle Irvine, Irvinestown, Co.Fermanagh
Above: Castle Irvine aka Necarne Castle, Irvinestown, Co.Fermanagh – the house (in poor condition) is currently on the market along with the estate. Publisher unknown.
Garbally Court, Ballinasloe, Co.Galway
A Lawrence card with divided back.
Clifden Castle, Clifden, Co.Galway
Clifden Castle Co.Galway, in a poor state when this Lawrence postcard (top) was published, had become a roofless ruin when the later card (below) was published.
Woodlawn House, Woodlawn, Co.Galway
Woodlawn House in County Galway, reputedly one of the most haunted houses in Ireland, has lain semi-derelict for many years. Lots more pictures and information here.
Derryquin Castle, Co.Kerry
Derryquin Castle was built in the 1860s and burnt by anti-treaty forces in 1922. It was located on the grounds of what is now the Parknasilla Hotel and its remains were demolished as recently as 1969.
Published by Wm.Lawrence, Dublin.
Naas Castle, Naas, Co.Kildare
Also known as St.David’s Castle or King John’s Castle is the last surviving example of the many fortified houses formerly to be found in the town of Naas, Originally part of the “Pale” defences the castle became a dwelling in the 18th century. It survives in private ownership today. Set back from the Main Street of Naas it stands adjacent to St.David’s Church.
Card published by Valentines.
Woodstock House, Inistioge, Co.Kilkenny
Another ‘big’ house that succumbed during the Troubles of the 1920s. Dating from 1745 the house was home to generations of the Tighe family and the estate at one time extended to more than 21,000 acres! Today the gardens have been restored and are open to the public – more here: www.woodstock.ie
Published by Wm.Lawrence.
Adare Manor, Adare, Co.Limerick
Adare Manor was the former home of the Earls of Dunraven and is now a 5 star hotel. Above an early view by Valentines.
Ash Hill Towers, Killmallock, Co.Limerick
The house was built for the Evans family and dates from 1781. It was heavily Gothicised in 1831, but was remodelled in early 1960s and this included the removal of the towers – pictured above. Today Ash Hill Towers is run as an upmarket B+B guesthouse.
Card published by Gaffney, Killmallock.
Castle Forbes, Newtownforbes, Co.Longford
An early Lawrence card.
A view from another angle by a local publisher.
Ardee Castle, Co.Louth
The Castle was built in the 15th century by John St. Leger and served as a stronghold for the defence of the Pale. In more recent times it served as a courthouse only relinquishing this role in 2006. Unknown publisher.
Bellingham Castle, Co.Louth
Mary Bellingham, the mother of postcard publisher Sir Evelyn Wrench, grew up here. Bellingham Castle was sold to a local businessman in 1958 and has been in use as an hotel since that time.
Published by Aero-Views Ltd., Dublin.
Castle McGarret, Claremorris, Co.Mayo
Castle MacGarrett was home to the Browne family, Norman adventurers, for hundreds of years but like so many ‘Big’ houses it passed out of family ownership in the 1950s and now lies vacant awaiting the next phase in its history.
Westport House, Co.Mayo
The magnificent former home of the Browne family for more than three centuries – Marquesses of Sligo and Earls of Altamont etc. – sold off in 2017. More about the family and house here: Westport House
Card published by Woolstone Bros in their “Milton” series.
Headfort House, Co.Meath
A Lawrence photograph used by local publisher J.McNulty, Stationer, Kells.
Completed between 1769 and 1771 and built for the Earl of Bective, Thomas Taylour, Headfort House was designed by the renowned Irish architect, George Semple. Its plain exterior is more than compensated for by the magnificent state rooms within designed by the influential Scottish architect Robert Adam.
The Adam’s interiors are of special importance and have recently been the subject of special conservation measures spearheaded by the Irish Georgian Society.
More here: www.igs.ie/conservation/project/headfort
Skryne Castle, Tara, Co.Meath
Locally published (?) card by Frank Snow. Skryne Castle is still inhabited today and more information is available here: www.navanhistory.ie
Cornacassa House, Monaghan, Co.Monaghan
Cornacassa, property of Dacre Hamilton, Esq., pleasantly situated in a highly cultivated and well-planted demesne. In the 1870s, the Hamiltons owned over 7,300 acres in Co. Monaghan. The house was demolished in the 1920s.
Cloghan Castle, Banagher, Co.Offaly
Publisher unknown but possibly the owners – presumably the people featured on this card?
Donamon Castle, Co.Roscommon
Happily the castle is still occupied and more details can be found here: Donamon Castle
The Swiss Cottage, Cahir, Co.Tipperary
A “cottage orné” built in the early 1800s for Richard Butler, 1st Earl of Glengall to a design by the famous Regency architect John Nash. Derelict for some years, it was restored by the Office of Public Works (OPW) in the late 1980s and is now a popular tourist attraction,
Published by W.J. Chilcott, Cahir.
Shanbally Castle, Clogheen, Co.Tipperary
Hardly a trace of this magnificent mock Gothic castle remains above ground today, but the amazing vaulted cellars are still there to be discovered by the more adventurous!
Dating from 1806 and designed by the famous Regency architect, John Nash, for Cornelius O’Callaghan, the first Viscount Lismore, the castle was acquired by the Irish Land Commission in 1954. Despite being in habitable condition it was ultimately blown up by the Irish army amidst a great deal of controversy!
More here: Archiseek.com
Top card from an unknown publisher and lower by Hughes, Waterford.
Baronscourt, Newtownstewart, Co.Tyrone
An attractive card published by Henderson’s of Newtownstewart.
Home to the Duke of Abercorn’s family since 1612.
Curraghmore House, Co.Waterford
Curraghmore House – Emerald Series.
Cahore House, Clonevan, Gorey, Co.Wexford
A mid-19th century Tudor Revial building, this is yet another vacant ‘Big’ house in need of saving. Planning permission for redevelopment of the house and land for an hotel and housing was given in 2007 but no work has taken place.
Ballynastragh House, Gorey, Co.Wexford
Ballynastragh House – a Lawrence card. The house, property of Sir Thomas Esmonde a Senator in the Irish Free State Parliament was destroyed by anti-Treaty forces in March 1923 during the Irish Civil War. More here: Archiseek.
Enniscorthy Castle, Co.Wexford
Enniscorthy Castle dates from the early years of the Norman invasion and its construction is attributed to Raymond le Gros. This early 1920s view by Woolstone Bros., England, shows some rudimentary scaffolding and repair work in progress. The castle has recently been renovated again and is now open as a heritage attraction.
Knockdrin Castle, Mullingar, Co.Westmeath
Knockdrin Castle – unknown publisher.
Left to right: Shelton Abbey, Co.Wicklow and Glenart Castle, Co.Wicklow.
Published by Valentines.
Above: Avondale House near Rathdrum – former home of Charles Stewart Parnell and now owned by the Irish State and open to the public. No publisher indicated.
Plenty of more ancient and obscure castles are also to be found on old postcards such as the one (below) for Seatown Castle, Dundalk, Co.Louth. A little online research reveals that it still exists and is, in fact, the corner tower of a Monastery dating back to 1240!
Left to right: Seatown Castle, Dundalk. Knockdrin Castle, nr.Mullingar, Co.Westmeath.
Above: Classiebawn Castle, Mullaghmore, Co.Sligo.
Above: Baileboro’ Castle demolished by the State in the 1930s.