The idiosyncratic façade of Dunmain, County Wexford. The house can be dated to the 1690s when the land on which it stands were bought by Arron Lambert. It subsequently passed through a number of different owners including the owners but has been occupied by the present family since being bought at auction in February 1917. At either end of the five-bay, two-storey over basement building rise conical roofed octagonal towers, weather-slated like the rest of the building; that on the right houses a tiny 19th century chapel on the ground floor. It is unclear whether they are original to the building, or a later insertion. The granite pillared portico approached by a flight of steps looks to have been added in the 19th century.
Dunmain House: its history has been the subject of many novels and plays. Louis Stevenson’s famous book, Kidnapped (1886), was inspired by true events at Dunmain House and the main character was based on James Annesley (1715-1760) who was born in Dunmain House, and about whom there was a famous trial in Dublin and London, that eventually led to the criminalisation of kidnapping in 1820.
Unless it is a trick of the light, the vertical slates and those on the roofs seem very different. Can you remember if they looked as if they had started out the same, but weathered to two contrasting tones, or are they in fact different?
Beautiful house, it’s surprising this solution wasn’t adopted elsewhere to extend simple gable-ended houses.
What an interesting house and its associated history. Where can one find an account of the court case and other links to its history? A joy to see an intact survivor.
Are weather-slated buildings unique to a specific time period and/or region? I note that weather-slating was also a feature (at least partially) at Dunbrody Castle (also in Wexford).
Thank you for getting in touch. I’m no expert on weather-slating but it doesn’t seem to be particular to a particular period, and can be found on many buildings of the 18th/19th century. As for regions, it mostly seems to be found in the southern part of the country, as far apart as Wexford and Kerry (Daniel O’Connell’s house in Derrynane is in part weather-slated). I don’t know of any survey on the subject, but if anyone else does, I should be most interested to read it…
I know that Springhill House in County Derry has a section of it’s T-Shaped house weather slated. I seem to remember a Tipperary house no longer standing that was weather slated. I can try find out if you want that info.