Still in County Kilkenny, and around seven miles west of Newtown Jerpoint (see last Monday) is another Newtown: when it came to naming places in this part of the country, someone wasn’t feeling terribly imaginative. In this instance, the remains include a tower house, officially dating from the 1620s but by general consent probably constructed at least 100 years earlier, perhaps for the Sweetmans who were a dominant family in this part of the country. Rising four storeys, the building is fairly plain (hence the suggestion that it dates from well before the 17th century) and as usual is accessed by a single arched doorcase with a murder hole immediately inside. Not far away lie the ruins of a late-mediaeval church, the surrounding graveyard still in use as is so often the case in Ireland. Dedicated to All Saints, the building’s only surviving feature is a window on the east gable. Internally, much of the ground is covered with the remains of old tombstones.
Did you spot the remains of Newtown House two fields down river? The house was a fine and possibly very handsome house in it’s day. All part of the same property?
Yes I did, but would have liked to view it more closely but couldn’t find a point of access…
The pillared portico of Newtown House was removed and offered for sale in a Dublin salvage establishment some years ago.
Hmm, most interesting: I wonder what is the legal position (of course, it may be all above board…)
Kieran, that’s interesting I never knew it had a pillared portico. Do you know if photographs of the house exist?
There must be photographs of the portico as I saw it assembled ready for sale in the Dublin establishment. Years ago my friends and I on our half day from school used to tour the county looking at tower houses, abbeys and old houses. I recall the Newtown tower house and Newtown House itself. It was relatively complete then (late 1960s) and we were able to walk on the floors in the house and the portico was in place.
HI Kieran, the first time had a look around Newtown was in the early 1990’s. All the floors had disappeared and part of the front collapsed at that stage – the portico was well gone. I spent many hours on top of the castle looking out over the Kells countryside.
There may be more than lack of imagination for the Newtown name. The Michelin atlas for example has over fifty entries for towns in France called Neuville. Perhaps this designation was to distinguish the new village from a place that was somehow disagreeable.
Yes, good point!