As already mentioned, June 1921 was a particularly bad month for country house burnings in north-west County Cork. One of those then lost was Rye Court, seat of the Tonson Rye family: the Ryes were originally living in Cork city (where one of their number was mayor in 1667 and 1668) but had moved to Ryecourt before the end of the 17th century. There they built a fine house and, at some date in the second half of the 18th century changed their name to Tonson Rye as a result of marriage into another family. Ryecourt looked south over a fine parkland, many trees of which still survive but the building was gutted by fire in 1921 and subsequently demolished (a small house was built inside the adjacent walled garden). Immediately behind the old house stood a courtyard with offices to east and west, and with gates and railings closing its north side: all these survive, albeit in poor condition, as can be seen here.
Another sad reminder of our history. Much as I deprecate them, the burnings of May – June 1921 have to be viewed in context, a peasant’s mindset and retaliation against actual/perceived supporters of ‘the enemy’. It was the height of the War of Independence and both Black & Tans and Auxiliaries were rampaging around the country. Earlier that year Prime Minister Lloyd George took a hard line (in private) with Sir Hamar Greenwood, the Irish Chief Secretary, writing (25 Feb.) “I am not at all satisfied of the state of discipline in the Royal Irish Constabulary and its auxiliary force……[no] doubt in my mind that the charges of drunkenness, looting and other acts of indiscipline are in too many cases substantially true … …………. certain units in the Royal Irish Constabulary should be terminated in the most prompt and drastic manner. ……. ………… There is no doubt that indiscipline, looting and drunkenness in the Royal Irish Constabulary is alienating great numbers of well disposed people in Ireland and throwing them into the arms of Sinn Fein.”
What is considerably worse are the burnings that took place after the War of Independence. In the entire period of the ‘Troubles’ about 275 ‘Big Houses’ were burned of which 200 were wantonly burned after the (supposed) Truce mainly by anti-Treaty forces. While stated to be ‘strategic’ it most frequently was a precursor to a landgrab.
Perhaps of interest to you, ties in with your burnt down theme. Have you ever profiled Castlecomer in Kilkenny (as is so often the case, now a Golf club)? I peruse the real estate listings every so often and found an interesting one today. The burned out shell of The Laundry House is a steal at 100,000 euros. But you have to appreciate the architectural detail in a building meant for such a lowly task.
Thanks for this, most interesting as I have featured Castlecomer in the past (see Selective Memory, March 6th 2017)