The Irish Aesthete Recommends V


A photograph of Dromore Castle, County Limerick built in the late 1860s for William Pery, third Earl of Limerick to the designs of Edward William Godwin (also responsible for James Whistler’s ‘aesthetic’ house on Tite Street, London). On a hill overlooking a lake and with views across the Shannon to County Clare, the castle looked ravishing but suffered from chronic damp (seemingly paint never stayed long on the walls) and was not occupied by the Perys for more than a few decades. The family sold Dromore in 1939 and since the middle of the last century it has grown steadily more ruinous: the roof was removed in the 1950s in order to avoid paying tax on the building. Today it can still be seen, a striking sight some twelve miles west of Limerick city.
Dating from around 1920 this photograph was taken by Franz S. Haselbeck, the son of German emigrants who had settled in Limerick in the early 1900s. Haselbeck was a professional photographer who lived and worked in the area until his death in 1973 and now a book of his images has been published by The Collins Press. With an introduction by his granddaughter who has been responsible for preserving the material, Franz S. Haselbeck’s Ireland includes pictures spanning the entire course of his long career, and shows scenes of a world which has since disappeared, many of them taken in the years before Independence. What makes the work especially fascinating are the photographs of buildings which subsequently fell into serious disrepair, not just Dromore but also Mount Shannon House in Castleconnell, immediately east of Limerick city. Acquired and greatly enlarged in the late 18th century by John FitzGibbon, first Earl of Clare (notoriously one of the most hated men of his generation), the house and its contents were sold by the family in the 1880s when they had run through all their money. After changing hands on a couple of occasions, it was burnt out in 1920 during the Troubles, so the picture below, which shows the rear of the building with its fine conservatory intact, must have been taken before that date. There are many other such photographs in the book, not all of them featuring country houses but all meriting close study.


11 comments on “The Irish Aesthete Recommends V

  1. David says:

    do you have any more detail about the proposal to demolish Dromore Castle in 2008? It seems incredible

    • I’m afraid it really was planned to be so. For confirmation, and some history of the building, see:

      • David says:

        I see that that article was published in December 2008, but I wonder does that refer to the online publication of an old article, or even publication as an archive item? The opening sentence refers to Dromore becoming ‘another ruined castle’ ‘in a short time’ – but it has been a roofless ruin since the 1950s anyway. I think it is more plausible that the ‘demolition’ refers to the castle being dismantled in the 1950s. I may be wrong but I think I would need to see some other sources before I believed there was a scheme in 2008 to demolish the ruin of Dromore.

      • Although the book in question states there was a proposal to demolish the castle in 2008, after re-reading the Limerick Leader article and undertaking some other searches, I think you could be right. I have therefore amended my text above; when next in Dublin, I shall see what might be discovered at the Irish Architectural Archive, which keeps a fairly extensive record of material relating to historic houses and may have more information one way or the other. Meanwhile, thank you for your interest.

  2. I have often admired the beautiful outline of this castle from across the Shannon on the road from the Airport back into Limerick. I have never managed to get any closer, despite travelling regularly on the N69 which is the same side as this magnificent looking building.

    • Thank you for getting in touch. One can get to the building, by going down a slip road (apologies, I forget the number) and eventually reaching a gate lodge on your right-hand side. It says private so best to seek permission but the drive beyond provides access to the castle.

  3. Patricia Haselbeck Flynn says:

    Robert . I have just discovered your wonderful blog ! Thank you so much for your very nice comments on my book Franz S..Haselbeck’s Ireland recently published by the Collins Press which contains a small selection of photographs and captions researched and compiled by me from the over 5000 glass plate negatives and original prints taken by my grandfather Franz S.Haselbeck which form part of The Haselbeck Collection and for which I hold full ownership and copyright. Would you contact with me please as i would value your advice .Best Wishes Patricia Haselbeck Flynn

  4. Paul Clerkin says:

    I believe that to be a reprint of an earlier article…. some drawings of Dromore from the architecture journals of the day

Leave a Reply