A Swift Entrance


The entrance gates to Swiftsheath, County Kilkenny. The estate takes its name from Godwin Swift who built the original house here: he was the uncle of Jonathan Swift who is believed to have lived here while a student at Kilkenny College. Although it looks much earlier the present entrance of cut limestone and granite dates only from 1874 when designed by Dublin architect Joseph Maguire for R.W. Swifte. The latter’s predecessor was the eccentric Godwin Meade Pratt Swifte who claimed the title Viscount Carlingford (held by a 17th century Swift who had died without male heirs) but also designed and built what he called an ‘aerial chariot’, a form of flying machine. In 1854 he launched this from the top of nearby Foulksrath Castle – with his butler as pilot. The device plunged straight to ground and the butler sustained serious, but not life-threatening, injuries. The Swifte family remained in occupation of Swiftsheath until the early 1970s when it was sold to new owners.

4 comments on “A Swift Entrance

  1. Hibernophile says:

    Dear Robert, As we draw stumps on another year I wish to take this opportunity to thank you most sincerely for the much enjoyment, education and enlightenment your work has provided. Each article is so very well researched, handsomely illustrated and written in a thoroughly accessible style. Hibernophile is neither architect nor historian, yet he finds each cameo supplies just the correct quantity of relevant information and trivia (never trivial), without being bombarded by a barrage of technical architectural terminology, bored by an historical lecture or agonizing over lengthy lists of family ancestry (best leave that to Lord Belmont!).

    I wish you a prosperous, prodigious and propitious annus novus.

  2. Christopher Bellew says:

    May I concur whole-heartedly with Hibernophile’s sentiments and wish you a happy new year too.

  3. Finola says:

    So that’s what butlers are for. I often wondered…

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