The Lion in Winter

The Lion Gate at Mote Park, County Roscommon. This was once one of the entrances to an estate owned by the Crofton family who settled here in the second half of the 16th century; in 1798 they became Barons Crofton of Mot . In the 1620s their forebear George Crofton built Mote Castle, but it was replaced by a new house at some date between 1777-87. This property was in turn rebuilt after being gutted by fire in 1865 but only survived another century: the last of the Croftons left Mote in the 1940s after which the contents were auctioned: the house itself was demolished in the 1960s. In February 2015 its former portico, rescued at the time of the demolition, was sold at auction for €12,000.

According to a history of Mote Park compiled in 1897 by Captain the Hon Francis Crofton, the Lion Gate was erected in 1787 and its design has sometimes been attributed to James Gandon, although this is disputed. Whatever the case, it takes the form of a Doric triumphal arch with screen walls linking it to what were once a pair of identical lodges (but are now used for housing livestock). A plinth on top of the arch features a Coade Stone lion, one foot resting on a ball. Over time this had become much weathered (not helped by bees nesting inside the animal) and when taken down a few years ago three of its feet fell off. Following restoration work at the Coade workshop in Wiltshire, the lion was reinstated in September 2016 and now once more surveys what is left of the Mote parkland: this restoration was funded by a number of sources, predominantly American supporters of the Irish Georgian Society.

10 comments on “The Lion in Winter

  1. Rob C Forrester says:

    Is this anything to do with the family at Longford House, Beltra, Sligo? Sir Maltby Crofton.

  2. Rob C Forrester says:

    Am I correct in thinking that this is the same Crofton family as the one at Longford House, Beltra, Sligo? (Sir Maltby Crofton, The last of the line)

  3. Andrew McCarthy says:

    A lovely work.

  4. I like the appearance of the flanking lodges, they deserve a better fate than livestock shelters.

    • Agreed: the setting is most unfortunate, and does little to ensure the entire building’s long-term future…

      • Matt O says:

        It is amazing how such a beautiful structure can be left literally in the middle of a muddy field being used to shelter livestock. Seems such a waste. You would wonder if it would be possible to dismantle this and relocate it to a town or city centre where they could be admired by so much more. I know the costs would be significant but imagine this structure if it was in the middle of Roscommon town or even Galway city. It would soon become a local landmark.

      • Indeed, it is unfortunate. However, I know a group of local people campaigned very fiercely to have the lion restored, so they might not take kindly to its removal. Still, if only the rest of the structure – not least the lodges – could be restored: it all looks rather bereft at the moment…

  5. matthias carolan says:

    It looks beautiful im glad it was restored,the lion denotes Respect,Supremecy, very appropriate for that time.

  6. lobitin says:

    It is an absolute scandal that this is not being utilized properly. But, as beautiful as these were, these old demesnes and houses do not stand for anything noble or virtuous, as they were the tangible representation of a reprehensible system in Ireland. It is very interesting, and telling, that Rockingham was burned to the ground in 1863 and Mote Park was two years later. We sometimes get confused with the physical beauty of a place and its not-so-wonderful history

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