Castles in the Air


An old photograph of Shanganagh Castle, County Dublin showing the house when all its external decoration was still intact (some has since been removed/lost). Although there have been buildings of that name on the site since the early 15th century, the core of the present structure dates from c.1760 when a plain classical residence was constructed. At the start of the 19th century the property was bought by Major-General Sir George Cockburn who in 1805 commissioned Sir Richard Morrison to remodel the house: the addition of what has been accurately described as ‘a profusion of battlements and turrets’ transformed the place into a fantastical toy fort. The interiors were more restrained not least because Cockburn, who was something of an aesthetically-minded career soldier and had acquired a collection of antiquities, sculptures and paintings during his military career, required a top-lit gallery in which these could be displayed.
As with so many Irish houses, the history of Shanganagh in the last century was not a happy one: after serving for some time as a Church of Ireland college of education it was converted into an open prison and remained such until closed ten years ago. Since then the building has suffered from being left vacant, but earlier this month Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council announced it had acquired Shanganagh and immediately surrounding acreage as part of a complex land-exchange programme. Inevitably the property is now in poor condition and so remedial work must be undertaken to make it secure. One awaits further developments, not least whether Shanganagh will be returned to the appearance it presents in this photograph.

4 comments on “Castles in the Air

  1. Just an aside comment – I just visited “Castle in the Clouds” in New Hampshire, USA. 🙂

  2. Sam says:

    Are we allowed to visit the castle or is it off limits?

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