Very Strange

The former Castle Strange in County Roscommon derived its name from a family who held this land in the late Middle Ages, called L’Estrange. There seems some confusion about whether they were of Norman origin, or whether this was an Anglicised version of an old Irish name. In Edward MacLysaght’s Surnames of Ireland (1969) the author proposes that the L’Estranges in County Westmeath had originally been called Mac Conchoigcriche, meaning border hound. Was this also true of the family of the same name in Roscommon? In any case, by the second half of the 17th century the L’Estranges, like so many other old families, had been driven out of their territory, the land in this instance passing into the hands of one Thomas Mitchell, a Scottish soldier sent to Ireland by General Monck in 1659 and seven years appointed by then-Lord Lieutenant James Butler, Duke of Ormonde, to serve as Cornet to a troop of horse under the command of Captain Nicholas Mahon. Mitchell subsequently settled in this part of the country and married, producing a large family, generations of which would live at Castle Strange. In the 19th century, successive members served in the British army, John Wray Mitchell rising to the rank of Major-General, while his son Edward became a Colonel. But further information about them, and their home, is not easy to find.

The first two photographs shown here show what remains of Castle Strange today: little other than sections of the two gable ends with portions of their chimney stacks. Seemingly built in the 1830s (after the estate was inherited General Mitchell’s father, another Edward), there appears to be nothing on record about its appearance when still intact and occupied, nor how it came to be in its present state (should anyone have such material, do please share). Meanwhile, the nearby yard to the east is in much better condition, in that at least the outer walls and sections of the roof remain in place. This very large, U-shaped block is constructed of limestone ashlar and, older images indicate, features a carved coat of arms above the central carriage arch, now impossible to see due to the thickness of ivy covering the building. The scale of this development indicates the affluence of the Mitchell family at the time, as do further ranges of farm buildings to one side. The other building of architectural interest is the now-derelict east lodge, again thought to date from the early 1830s and an exercise in romantic Gothic, with arched windows on either side of a central two-bay canted projection with a door on one side. Like so much else on this site, information about the building is scarce, making it another instance where a place’s history has been almost entirely obliterated. All very strange.

5 comments on “Very Strange

  1. Emma Richey says:

    Paul Connolly has written a book called The Landed Estates of Roscommon, you could contact him? TLER also has a Facebook page. Also James Moran, who lives in Co. Roscommon produced a book some years ago on local history and I think he knows quite a bit about Castle Strange. You cannot get the book any more but there was a copy at Castle Coote.

    • raymond blair says:

      tried to post this already but didn’t seem to go through – report in Roscommon Messenger that house was burned down in Feb of 1919 – not stated as malicious but suppose cannot be ruled out. Also earlier owned in the 1890’s a James Mulry who had laboured on the estate in his boyhood, made a fortune in New York and then purchased the estate – a real rags to riches story

  2. raymond blair says:

    To elaborate, facebook page for “Mount Talbot through the ages identifies” W A Byrne as a cousin of James Mulry’s and that James Mulry only occupied the house for summer months and allowed Byrne, a vet, to use it at other times. The relevant entry contains some photos I think of W A Byrne.

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