How long past were the Glories

‘Inver House embodied one of those large gestures of the minds of the earlier Irish architects, some of which still stand to justify Ireland’s claim to be a civilised country. It was a big, solemn, square house of three stories, built of cut stone, grandly planned, facing west in two immense sweeping curves, with a high-pillared portico between them and stone balustrades around the roof.’

‘The high windows of the great room were bare of blinds and curtains, and the hot afternoon sun beat in unchecked. It was a corner room, looking south towards the demesne, and its longer western side was built out in a wide, shallow curve, with two massive pillars of green Galway marble marking at either end the spring of the curve, and supporting a heavy gilt cornice above the broad window.’

‘Everything that had survived of the original conception of the room, the heavy, tall teak doors, with their carved architraves and brass furniture, the huge, brass-mounted fireplace, the high mantelpiece of many coloured marbles, chipped and defaced, but still beautiful, the gorgeous deep-moulded ceiling that Lady Isabella’s Italian workmen had made for her, from the centre of which the wreck of a cut-glass chandelier still hung, all told of the happy conjunction of art and wealth, and of a generous taste that would make the best of both. But a cursory glance would show how long past were the glories of a great room.’

The above passages are taken from Somerville & Ross’s The Big House of Inver, published in 1925, and while their descriptions of Inver are not an exact match, nonetheless in spirit they seem to capture what one can see, and feel, at Scregg, County Roscommon. Dating from the mid-18th century, the house and surrounding land has for hundreds of years belonged to a branch of the ancient Irish Kelly family and was occupied until the 1980s but has since stood empty. How little in some ways has Ireland changed since the time of Somerville & Ross.

12 comments on “How long past were the Glories

  1. lawrieweed says:

    My Mother was a Kelly.. I would if I could..
    Hope your Christmas is cheery and bright

  2. Tim Guilbride says:

    Tragic to see. I knew it was still ‘in the family’, and assumed it was lived in and loved. Let’s hope you have spurred someone connected to them into action.

    • Yes it is sad to see but as you know, very typical of Ireland. In this instance, the family – for whom I have enormous sympathy – remain in possession of the building but not in possession of the necessary funds to ensure its full maintenance – and in this country insufficient resources are provided to such owners, meaning we are all the poorer. I would just add that the relevant local authority does not employ an architectural conservation officer, which indicates its level of interest in such matters…

  3. Colette O'Connor says:

    Excellent piece. Hopefully, it’s not too late and someone will rescue it.

  4. Emma Richey says:

    Screggs, I saw it from a distance when I was last over and wondered what it was like inside. I know IGS gave some money a few years ago. The trouble is that the more it deteriorates the more money will be needed to restore it. Is there now a heritage body in Ireland? or have I dreamt it!

  5. says:

    Exceedingly evocative.

  6. Deborah Sena says:

    Most sad is that it is certainly in a state that could be restored and the house is of a reasonable size yet has retained stunning detail. The problem is, like the wind farm house, location. Roscommon/Longford/Westmeath I consider lost counties in they are far enough away from major cities/airports to not be attractive for upscale holiday houses. And while the countryside is certainly lovely, it is not spectacular in anyway unless you are on a loch. From what I understand, even the Irish have disdain or at least little interest in the Midlands. To keep it in the family and have a chance at restoration, sounds like an old fashioned long term tenant lease would work. But nowadays most tenants expect the landlord to do all repairs.

  7. Barrie Leigh Williams says:

    Thank you for this article. I have always admired external photographs of this house, and am grateful for the interior photographs – the only ones I have seen. Not a hopeless case, but it obviously needs a new custodian in the medium term.

  8. D says:

    Robert it is disappointing to see photos like these used to show the most run down parts of the house.

    Adequate funding is the issue here, not a lack of will or care.

    • Thank you for getting in touch. Let me assure you, there is absolutely no judgement on my part in featuring these images, certainly not towards the property owner. My ire – as is regularly the case – is only directly at the relevant national and local bodies which are in a position to ensure this house and many others are preserved for future generations, but fail to provide the adequate support. Until such time as sufficient funding and support are provided, then our historic properties will continue to be at risk.

  9. Brian kelly says:

    I have had many holidays in this house with my aunt uncle and cousins.
    What a glorious home it was,with extended family gatherings there.
    The main room boasted a large organ at one end and a rent collectors table at the other. I well remember my aunts and uncles and my parents singing the nights away.
    What wonderful times we had.
    The rare old times,alas no more

    Brian Kelly Ballintober.

  10. Imelda (Martin) Fitzgerald says:

    My great grandfather James (Cloonfad) bought Scregg estate from the Potts around 1920..James & his wife Julia(Murray from Cuiiiagh) came from near Ballinasloe, The Kellys also worked for Potts at Correen Castle there. Potts owned at least 3 large estates inc Runnameade. James & Julia reared 13 children in Scregg inc my grandfather John Kelly living as the steward in this big house. Potts lived in Coreen Castle. A Church of Ireland Kelly (Edmond) owned Scregg before Potts.

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