Portumna Castle

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Where: Galway, Ireland

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When: Unknown

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To Portumna beside the Shannon and to a ruin before the desolation of the War of Independence and the Civil War.

This once fine old building appears as an empty shell in this Lawrence/French shot ... however today's commenters and investigators report that the building looks much better now, having been restored since this image was captured.

Amongst the interesting nuggets of location, history and excavation information provided by sharon.corbet, B-59 and Niall McAuley is confirmation that there were two great houses in the Portumna Demesne - one of which was destroyed in the 1920s, but the other was damaged by fire in the 1820s (during renovation work to an earlier 17th century fortified house). It is the latter that we see here - a building that wasn't fully restored until the 1980s. John Spooner also highlights a very unexpected connection with our recent eviction series - that a battering-ram used in some evictions had been made from a tree from Portumna lands. Thanks also to beachcomberaustralia for linking us to the interesting aerial/drone footage. Lots to digest today - Thanks all!


Photographer: Robert French

Collection: Lawrence Photograph Collection

Date: Between 1865 - 1914

NLI Ref: L_ROY_05647

You can also view this image, and many thousands of others, on the NLI’s catalogue at catalogue.nli.ie

Info:

Owner: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 24009
robertfrench williamlawrence lawrencecollection lawrencephotographicstudio glassnegative nationallibraryofireland haha portumna portumnacastle portumnademesne fury belleislehouse leftfieldbatteringramconnection marquisofclanricarde lawrencephotographcollection

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    sharon.corbet

    • 11/Jan/2016 09:04:02

    NIAH It actually looks better now. "Destroyed by fire in 1826, its masonry walls survived relatively intact. A major conservation project by the Office of Public Works, 1989-95, reroofed, floored and rebuilt the chimney stacks. It is the focal point in a relatively intact demesne which includes formal gateways, avenues, gate lodges, an icehouse, walled gardens and a stableyard."

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    B-59

    • 11/Jan/2016 09:11:53

    OSI map: maps.osi.ie/publicviewer/#V2,585219,704025,12,9

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    Niall McAuley

    • 11/Jan/2016 09:15:01

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]] [https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]] I had the wrong Castle! Presumably this original one was allowed to remain ruined after 1826 because another Portumna Castle (now gone) was built on the demesne.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 11/Jan/2016 09:16:29

    The DIA has entries for both old and new castles, and one entry which is not sure which it is for. For the old: 1824-26 Nature: Renovations to early 17th century fortified house. House destroyed by fire, 1826, while work in progress. The "new": 1861-64 Nature: French Gothic. Contractor: Cockburn(£15,000). For Marquess of Clanricarde. (Burned, 1922)

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    B-59

    • 11/Jan/2016 09:18:56

    Google maps: www.google.com/maps/place/Portumna+Castle/@53.0866508,-8....

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    sharon.corbet

    • 11/Jan/2016 09:20:41

    Some details of the archaeological excavations that took place. "A plaque built into the south porch records the death of Fury the dog in April 1797 This stone is erected to the memory of a much lamented animal who with a beauteous form possessed those qualities which are esteemed most valuable in the human species; Fidelity and Gratitude, and dying April 29th 1797 aged 11 years was interred near this place. Alas! poor Fury. She was a dog. Take her for all in all. Eye shall not look upon her like again"

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    Niall McAuley

    • 11/Jan/2016 09:21:26

    I think this is the "new" house in the archive.

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    sharon.corbet

    • 11/Jan/2016 09:24:09

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/gnmcauley] Here's the "new" castle. Though called Belleisle House in the catalogue.

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    B-59

    • 11/Jan/2016 09:28:00

    The new castle was burnt down during the 'Troubles' in 1922, s. www.portumna.net/home/history.html.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 11/Jan/2016 09:36:02

    The Bing Satellite view has a nice shadow profile.

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    BeachcomberAustralia

    • 11/Jan/2016 10:36:40

    Portumna's garderobe consisted of two dedicated latrine towers with chutes to discharge waste into a large stone lined drain under the castle, a type of sewer system. It was traditional that a gong farmer, or "gongfermor", would dig out the cesspit and remove the waste at night. ... from - www.megalithicireland.com/Portumna Castle, Galway.html Ed. Apologies for bad link - not sure how to fix it - something to do with %20 I think ...

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    John Spooner

    • 11/Jan/2016 10:40:15

    An echo of some of last month's NLI stream, and an unexpected piece of trivia about the origin of one of the instruments of destruction. Freeman's Journal , Monday, January 21, 1889, near the end of a report on the evictions from the Clanricarde estate:

    The preparations for another sortie of the evictors from Portumna Castle are again in progress, and the battering ram that has been made from one of the great trees that stood in the avenue to the castle is again in readiness.

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    BeachcomberAustralia

    • 11/Jan/2016 11:17:33

    So is that a moat or a ha-ha ?

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    sharon.corbet

    • 11/Jan/2016 11:25:13

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/beachcomberaustralia] Looking at the additional images at the NIAH link, it looks like a ha-ha to me.

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    BeachcomberAustralia

    • 11/Jan/2016 11:52:18

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]] Thanks - only on the south and west sides, as evident in this Droneview!!- youtu.be/IMQgETd8B_Q

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 11/Jan/2016 20:37:54

    Thanks all - very varied and interesting stuff today. Not least the unexpected battering-ram connection uncovered by https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnspooner. Amazing stuff. We've tried to summarise some of the breadth of it in an updated description, tags, etc. But it's hard to do today's investigations justice. Thanks so much all!

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    guliolopez

    • 11/Jan/2016 20:57:38

    Some interesting connections with today's image alright. It seems likely that the "new" castle (the one not pictured here and effectively destroyed outright in the 1920s) was built by Ulick de Burgh, Marquess of Clanricarde, when he was then Lord Lieutenant of Galway. I looked-him-up initially with just the intent of finding something useful to back-up a trite "Holy Stone of Clanricarde" style Father Ted joke. However, after reading some interesting stuff on him published by the Portumna Famine Workhouse Museum, I determined not to simplify it with a joke. While Ulick John was hardly the most benign of landlords, it seems likely that it was his son Hubert de Burgh-Canning, 2nd Marquess who cut down the tree to make the battering ram. Given the (unattributed) quote below, it seems likely that this was the fellow that attracted such ire from the local population as to carry forward into the events of the next century...

    "the western Irish cannot be kept up to their contracts without the threat of eviction."

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    O Mac

    • 11/Jan/2016 23:46:47

    It was Hubert George de Burgh - Lord Clanricarde - who infamously said ‘Unless husbandmen can afford to plant something better than stones (or bad potatoes which are as useless as stones ) they are not fit to be tenant farmers.’ We have seen some of his handywork at Woodford. www.flickr.com/photos/nlireland/6821695135/in/photolist-b...

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    oaktree_brian_1976

    • 12/Jan/2016 02:56:03

    and it even has a dog: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fury_memorial_stone.jpg

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    John_A68

    • 12/Jan/2016 13:55:26

    I visited here last summer, and did the tour which was interesting. Here's what it looks like now: www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/19981967190/in/datepos... www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/19547799434/in/photost...

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    philfluther

    • 22/Jun/2016 09:05:07

    Midget poem. Sister Ruins Powerscourt Portumna.