From Kerry to Mecca


Glenbeigh Towers, County Kerry was built 1867-71 for the Hon Rowland Allanson-Winn, its design by English architect Edward Godwin. The latter, whose other Irish commission was Dromore, County Limerick (see Une Folie de Grandeur, 30th December 2013 and More and More Dromore, 3rd March 2014). Both properties suffered the same problems: the budget overran and the walls perpetually leaked. Whereas Godwin’s patron at Dromore, the third Earl of Limerick, suffered these inconveniences, Allanson-Winn was not prepared to do so and sued the architect for the cost of employing someone else to rectify the issue. The defendant settled the case before it came to court but thereafter would advise ‘When offered a commission in Ireland, refuse it.’ Glenbeigh was only ever occupied by staff until taken over by members of the British Military Command during the First World War. It was subsequently burnt by the IRA in 1921 and has remained a striking ruin ever since. Incidentally Allanson-Winn’s son Rowland George Allanson-Winn became fifth Lord Headley following the death of a cousin in January 1913: eight months later he converted to Islam and made a pilgrimage to Mecca the following decade (after which he was known as Al-Haj Shaikh Saifurrahman Rehmatullah El-Farooq). He is also remembered for having been twice offered the throne of Albania, and refusing on both occasions.

2 comments on “From Kerry to Mecca

  1. Bob Frewen says:

    I pass it periodically. Even without the story of leaking walls and roof, it’s a building with a sad history and even on a sunny always looks sombre. If Mr. Goodwin perhaps spent more time on site during its construction instead of cavorting with his then lover (the actress Ellen Terry) it might not have leaked so much.
    JF Fuller took on the repair job on the basis of “no cure – no fee”, some of his conditions being that at least £600 should be expended on repairs, that he could nominate his own foreman and have complete control. Fuller was successful and proceedings were issued by Wynn against his original builder and architects (Goodwin & Crisp) to recover his outlay. The leading senior counsel of the day were involved including (for Wynn) a noted Q.C., Gerald FitzGibbon. Fuller also benefitted at a later date as he received a commission to design Fitzgibbon’s new home, Kilrock House in Howth.
    The kingship of Albania often was a near-fatal role, the last (?) King Zog has Guinness Records for surviving more than 50 assassination attempts before exile, being the only head of state to shoot back with his own gun at a would-be assassin and for smoking more than 200 cigatettes each day!

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