Blowing in the Wind I

Last January, the Irish Times reported that a land parcel of 800 acres in County Tipperary was being offered for sale as a single lot with an asking price of €11 million. According to the article, ‘a wide range of investors and land speculators are expected to express their interest in the sale.’ The reason for that interest, and the figure this parcel was expected to make, arises from the fact that the site contains two substantial clusters of wind turbines (18 and 12 respectively), with a third now underway and expected to active in two years’ time. The turbines were originally developed by a mining company which, between 1999 and 2015 extracted zinc and lead from the ground. Long before the mine closed, in 2009 the company embarked on developing the first group of wind turbines, the second commissioned in 2013. The operation of this business is managed by another body, a Canadian-based global fund called Brookfield Renewable Partners, which in 2016 struck a ten-year deal with Facebook to provide its energy needs: the latest cluster of wind turbines here will generate power for Facebook’s  data centre campus in Clonee, Co Meath, and its new European headquarters in Ballsbridge, Dublin.

Killoran House stands less than a mile from the Lisheen wind farms. For many hundreds of years the land here belonged to members of the Campy or Campie family, the first of whom was a soldier Solomon Camby, originally from Norfolk it seems, whose name is mentioned in reports of the Battle of Marston Moor (July 1644) when Parliamentary forces defeated the Royalist army. He was then a member of the cavalry regiment that came to be known as the Ironsides; Camby was part of what was called the ‘Maiden Troop’ headed by Captain Robert Swallow and drawn from Norwich. Subsequently in 1649 he came to Ireland as part of the New Model Army and was involved in crushing opposition here; he appears to have been in County Mayo in 1653 when English troops attempted to burn down Ballintubber Abbey. Like many other soldiers, he was rewarded for his services in land, and this was confirmed by the post-Restoration English government in 1667 when Major Solomon Camby was granted over 1,700 acres in the barony of Lower Ormond, County Tipperary and some 90 acres in the barony of Forth, County Wexford. One may assume that the original Solomon Camby was a staunch Protestant, but in the 18th century one of his descendants married a member of the Lalor family, who had always remained Roman Catholic. By the time Solomon Lalor Cambie inherited the former Lalor estate at Killoran in the following century he must also have been a Catholic (since he was educated by the Jesuits at Clongowes Wood College). His land holding ran to almost 1,600 acres and it was probably for this reason that he decided to build a new residence for himself.

Killoran House dates from around 1850, and is a typical solid gentleman’s residence of the period, with an extensive yard to one side of the building. The three-bay, two storey entrance front is curious because the centre bay entrance projection has its door around one side. The front, on the other hand, is taken up by a large and elaborate fanlight window; inside, the space directly above acts as an additional room off the landing, accessed via a pair of shuttered doors. Otherwise the interior is, again, typical of the time although the cantilevered staircase is lighter than usually the case for the mid-19th century. Currently on the market, the house is in a very poor state of repair, and looks to have been left empty for quite some time. Many of the windows are broken and slates missing from the roof. As a consequence, large quantities of rain water have entered the building and some upper floors have collapsed. Almost all the interior fittings like chimney pieces have been removed. Surrounded as it is by wind turbines, and with more due to be added to their number shortly, Killoran House’s prospects do not look cheering. The property is, naturally, included on the local authority’s list of protected structures.

Apologies to anyone who looked at this earlier when the text was missing…

10 comments on “Blowing in the Wind I

  1. fitzfitz says:

    … needless dereliction captured very effectively indeed … depressing to see on a dark, cold Monday morning …

  2. Peter says:

    Googling the property now, it appears that the house is now located on 4 acres, and will be going for auction with a starting price of 90k

  3. Alwyn Byrne says:

    In what way was this structure protected? Total dereliction of duty to this house.

  4. Shamefull. Local planners to blame?

  5. Bob says:

    Sad to see its decline and future – who would want to buy it stuck in the middle of a windfarm?
    I stayed there in the mid 1980’s, Ned Camby was the then owner. The room you mention off the landing was at that time a private chapel.

  6. Margaret says:

    This will be my family farm soon. It has been in my family since 1843 and I am the last in the line. You get tired of pouring money into a place and the man who knew how to do restoration work died two years ago and we live 4 hours away with no intention of moving back home. I know when the sale is over I can never drive back by….I will be hugely disappointed.

  7. Oh my goodness, I worked in Killoran House in 1998 for an archaeological firm and know it inside out. The wall in the yard is likely the remains of a late medieval bawn wall. The kitchen is extremely likely to be a remodeled fortified house as it’s lower than the Georgian/Victorian front of the house, and the “back stairs’ for the servants were set into walls far more likely in a late medieval castle, and I think I remember a corbel.
    Weirdly, when you went into the rear of the house (kitchen) you passed by the entrances to a tiny house in the hallway on your left, I estimate 17/18th c, probably originally “outside” the walls of the fortified house. The estate had an ornamental boating lake. In the “hotpress” upstairs in the older section of the house, a room with no windows, there were bundles of early photos of Victorian and Edwardian gentry having picnics and larking about in Killoran. How I regretted that I didn’t take those photos with me and deposit them in the National Archives. I occasionally think of Killoran House and wonder how it was. Seeing it in this state is very sad but even in 1998 the roof was leaking dangerously and the largest bracket fungus grew out of the walls on the back stairs.

  8. Diana says:

    The wind mills wouldnt put me off tbh but there is a staggering amount of work needed when it has been left go this far, especially to do it to a good standard. Many multiples of 90k…..

  9. Noel Ryan says:

    Maybe the sentiment of oppressed, exploited Native Irish might be best captured by referring to edifices like this as ‘Castle Rack Rent’? Like the Southern Plantations in America, they were only viable through the abundance of cheap labour to work as ‘slavies’ inside, gardeners outside and miserable tenantry paying extortionate ‘rent’ at the pleasure and whim of ‘landlords’. They told ‘us’ to ‘go to hell or to Connaught’! Well, we never went away but survived, albeit in a penurious state for a long time.

    • Ireland and the Southern states of America do not have a monopoly on disparity of wealth. England in the Regency period had its own, sometimes suffering, underclass employed by the wealthy gentry. The present state of much of Irelands built heritage can not simply be explained by its history.

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