Dispossessed Kings


Monday’s piece on Kingston College (see God Bless the Kings, September 1st) seems to have excited some interest, so readers might be interested to know what became of the King family’s adjacent residence, Mitchelstown Castle. This building, shown above, dated from the early 1820s when the third Earl of Kingston demolished the old house, replacing it with an immense castle designed by James and George Pain and costing in the region of £100,000. With 60 principal rooms, including a 93 feet-long gallery, drawing room, three libraries, morning room and vast dining room, Lord Kingston entertained lavishly until 1830 when, his candidate of choice having failed to win a local by-election, he lost his mind and had to be taken to England where he died towards the close of the decade. The fourth Earl followed his father’s example by being both a reckless spendthrift and then descending into madness. Ultimately the castle was occupied by the fifth Earl’s widow and her second husband, and by the latter alone after his wife’s death. In the summer of 1922 he was driven from the building by anti-Treaty forces who, on their departure, set the castle on fire: it has since been proposed that this only happened after the building’s valuable contents – including the King silver, family portraits and furniture – had been looted from the property. Although efforts were later made to seek compensation the sum offered by the Irish Free State was insufficient to allow Mitchelstown Castle be reconstructed. Instead its cut stone was sold to the Cistercian monks of Mount Melleray, County Waterford who used it to build a new abbey. As can be seen below, the site on which the castle stood is today occupied by the Dairygold Food Co-Operative Society’s factory, which like the earlier building dominates the horizon, albeit in a somewhat less attractive fashion.


7 comments on “Dispossessed Kings

  1. Most interesting Robert !

  2. Gerald Mc Carthy says:

    Thank you for your two articles and photogrphs on the Earls of Kingston. Perhaps you would do an article one of their other houses the now demolished Galtee Castle at Skeheenaranky on the Southern Slopes of the Galtee Mountains.From sketches I have see the Castle looked spectacular against the back drop of the mountains.

    • Thank you for your comment. Yes, Galtee Castle was originally built as a lodge by the second Earl of Kingston but spectacularly rebuilt and extended, I think after it was sold by the King family in the mid-19th century: it was entirely demolished in 1940/41. And of course another, and even more dreadful loss in that part of the country was the demolition of Shanbally Castle, designed by John Nash for Cornelius O’Callaghan, first Viscount Lismore: it was quite needlessly obliterated by the Irish Land Commission in 1960…

  3. penelopebianchi says:

    The cow and the countryside are beautiful!!

    Ireland is the most beautiful country in the world!

    (I am an American; 1/4 Scottish,(Leith( 1/4 Irish Whyte??) and some English? (Davidson, Standish and somebody else!) “Irish Aesthete” is a wonderful thing! I have a great story about Sybill Connolly! And my mother!

    I think you will enjoy it!(Sybill came to give a talk to the Los Angeles Museum of Art….and I wore a suit she made for my mother in 1960; she spied it across a sea of ladies……and sped towards me……(she recognized it as a mother would a child!!)

    I described my mother and her trip and appointment…..she even remembered that my mother had sent a beautiful “brassiere” to her “fitter”!

    (because Sybill’s fitter loved it)!

    she then invited me to visit her in Dublin….at her lovely house and garden in “Merrion Sqare”!

    the dumbest thing I have ever done in my life is not to just go get a ticket and go that minute! she even called me at 3 am California time; to remind me that she “really meant it”!

    It is true; the only things you truly regret in life is what you “don’t do”!

    I still have and wear my mother’s amazing black Irish crochet dress (everyone thinks it is Chanel); her gorgeous “pleated linen” skirt (it took so many yards to make this pleated skirt you would faint! No one makes linen like this anywhere in the world any more….”handkerchief ” linen is like a dishtowel compared to this! I wear these things all the time! My mother bought them in 1960!!

    She also bought the “mirror” upstairs!

    That is another funny story!

    I love the Irish Aesthete; and it is NOT an oxymoron!


    Is that divine Desmond Guiness still alive? He spoke at the LA County Museum of Art also! I will never forget his eyes!


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