Lost Forever

The history of Tyrone House, County Galway and its sad fall from grace was discussed here a few weeks ago (see A High House on High Ground, September 18th 2017). Above is an image of the building included in the fifth and final volume of the The Georgian Society Records of Eighteenth Century Domestic Architecture and Decoration published in 1913, showing it still intact. One of the house’s most striking features was the entrance hall, dominated by a mid-18th century white marble life-size statue of St. George Ussher St. George, Baron Saint George. This survived until Tyrone House was attacked in August 1920 when the statue was smashed to pieces: as a result, the photograph below is the only record of the work.
Copies of my new book, Tyrone House and the St George Family: The Story of an Anglo-Irish Family are now available from the Irish Georgian Society bookshop. For more information, please see https://shop.igs.ie/collections/books

14 comments on “Lost Forever

  1. John F. Egan says:

    In 1981 l was driving north from Shannon to stay with family in Mayo and looking out for castles and Georgian houses along the way. I saw this big house with daylight coming through the windows about a quarter mile off the road. I drove along a narrow track and pulled up in front of it, noticing the very fine front door. I got out. It was cold and windy. The wind made a rushing sound blowing through the house. Walking through the door into the front hall, l could see traces of plaster bellflowers around the niche. It must have been a fine house, but the main impression l came away with was how cold it must have been to live there. There was not a tree in sight near it, but there may have been at one time. My granduncle’s cottage in Mayo with it’s turf fire was cozy and warm. I wondered if it was the same back then, with the Lords paying a price of discomfort for their grand lifestyle. Both cottage and cold mansion are gone now. Keep up the good fight, lreland could use a thousand more like you. Jack Egan

    • Thank you, your interest and your engagement are both much appreciated…

    • John, the house in its days of magnificence was surrounded by trees which gave it shelter. The house had many fireplaces and my grandfather who spent time at Tyrone House, his mother was a St George, often talked to me about the turf being brought from Connemara on their Galway Bay Hooker for the fires at Tyrone at the wharf near the oyster beds. No doubt the fires were kept well stoked. In fact in 1814 from the account book kept by Christopher St George 43 loads of turf were purchased at 2 Pounds per load.

      • Wendy Sanders says:

        My mums family are st george French Arthur st george french was my grandfather that came to Australia.

  2. Tom Crane says:

    We sympathize with these attacks in 1920 or whenever. But, what a loss.

  3. The Prof says:

    With reference to the above comment, it is difficult to fully understand sympathy towards deliberately attacking property. Holding sympathetic views towards a particular cause is perfectly acceptable, but sympathetic tendencies towards violence and destruction is a very different matter. Many historic buildings were regrettably lost on this island post 1916 as a result of savage violence on ‘both sides’ of the political battle. However, the fact is that the ‘Protestant Ascendancy’, for all their many flaws, made a great contribution to a very impoverished Ireland. Their work in education, health, and social care greatly improved the living standards of so many on this island, to say nothing of their benefaction in the areas of art and architecture. Sadly so much of this has been written out of modern Irish history, and the families of the ‘big house’ are portrayed as opulent autocrats who spent their time exploiting the poor and evicting tenants.

    • Ted says:

      I believe far more destruction was wrought, piecemeal, by the Land Commission. Its (arguably politically corrupt, vote-buying) function in the carving up of land holdings made many estates and ‘big houses’ unviable. Try breaking up the many acred ‘ranchers’ holdings in the present day and you’ll be told it’s unconstitutional
      ps – my grandmother’s family home in Tipperary was burnt by the auxiliaries/black and tans – it wasn’t only protestant ascendancy homes burnt out in that period.

  4. What a fascinating property

  5. Michael Timmins says:

    I have been to the ruins of Tyrone House many times. What a place.
    My grandmother’s old home was in sight of it.

    I recently finished reading “Tyrone House and the St George Family: The Story of an Anglo-Irish Family”. I have also read Gordon Mark’s piece on Tyrone House and the St George family in Volume 14 of the Quarterly Bulletin of the Irish Georgian Society and Mary Keegan’s “Index to persons in Household Account Book kept by Christopher St. George of Kilcolgan Castle, Oranmore, Co. Galway” in Volume 7 of the Irish Genealogist.

    Does anyone know where a copy Christopher St George’s Account Book itself can be read?

    Brian Ross-Murphy seems to have mentioned it above as well.

    Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

    • Thank you for getting in touch. Christopher St George’s account book is in private hands in the United States and so not accessible to the general public. Might I ask why you are interested in looking at it?

      • Michael Timmins p says:

        Genealogical research. Purely for private use. Some of my ancestors lived nearby. Mary Keegan’s Index to Persons from the Account Book suggests that there would be references to them. I have been in touch with Brian Ross Murphy since my last message and he has kindly passed on some information on the Account Book’s current whereabouts, for which I am very grateful to him.

  6. Tim Edwards says:

    Dear Robert,
    I’ve just read your book “Tyrone house and the St George Family” which I found very enlightening and I thank you.
    My interest in the subject is because I’m the great grandson of Louisa St George, the 8th daughter of Christopher St George and Honoria Kane. Louisa married my great grandfather Francis Arthur Blake of Cregg castle. I’ve always been familiar with the Blake ‘version’ of the family history and your coverage of the St George side has enabled me to make sense of anecdotal stories that my mother (née Louisa Blake) told me of certain inter family feuds.
    For example, the fact that my great great grandfather James Joseph Blake did not attend the funeral of Christopher St George in 1877 is revealing. His wife, Helena Blake (née Ffrench) never forgave her only son for marrying one of the several illegitimate daughters of Christopher St George. And so it goes on…

    Kind regards,
    Tim Edwards

  7. Wendy Sanders says:

    Oh my God I’m so happy to see these comments . My ancestors had Tyrone house . My grandfather was Arthur st george french that came to Australia.

  8. Anna St. George says:

    It’s so interesting to see so many long lost relatives here.
    I was born Anna St. George. My great grandfather, Richard, was born and raised in Tyrone House. My family has visited the ruin many times, along with the nearby mausoleum.
    As a teenager I helped my father with his genealogical research of the family so the book “Tyrone House and the St George Family: The Story of an Anglo-Irish Family” was a fantastic find.

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