Keeper of the Gate

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The former main entrance to Donadea Castle, County Kildare. Donadea was granted to the Aylmer family in 1597 and remained in their possession until the death in 1935 of the last descendant, a Miss Alymer, who bequeathed the estate to the Church of Ireland. That body sold on the place and in the 1950s the main house was unroofed. Since 1981 the demesne, much of it woodland, has been a public park. It is unknown who was the architect for this fine gateway, the lodge echoing the design of Donadea Castle which has at its core an early 17th century tower house. It may have been Sir Richard Morrison who in the early 1800s was employed by Donadea’s then-owner Sir Fenton Aylmer; the latter’s wife was a Freke of Castle Freke, County Cork which Morrison castellated around 1807. Donadea Castle is now a shell and its main entrance not much better; the unsightly rubbish bin in this photograph is explained by a modern residence on the other side of the gatewway.