MARTIN TEA HOUSE FOLLY
The Martin Tea House Folly is a 19th century structure that stands on the bank of the River Corrib, on the grounds of the University of Galway.
A folly is a building that is constructed for decoration or amusement, rather than for practical use. Follies often imitate the style of ancient or exotic architecture, and are usually located in gardens or parks. Follies were popular in Europe from the 18th to the 20th century, especially among the wealthy and aristocratic classes.
The Martin Tea House Folly was built by Robert Martin, a member of the prominent Martin family of Galway, who owned several estates in the county. The Tea-House Folly is part of the remains of the once powerful Martin family’s Dangan House residence who used it as a place from which to view activities on the river while drinking afternoon tea. It is also thought that the location of the Tea-House was a sign of contempt or indifference by the Martin’s to their rival family the Blake’s who resided in Menlo Castle on the opposite bank of the river.
Robert Martin was also a politician and a philanthropist, who supported various causes such as education, health and social welfare. He built the tea house as a place to entertain his guests and enjoy the scenic views of the river and the countryside. The folly would have been used by Richard, or ‘Humanity Dick’ as he was otherwise known, who was brought up at the Dangan House. He earned the nickname ‘Humanity Dick’ due to his work and compassion to outlaw cruelty to animals.
The Martin Tea House Folly is designed in the Gothic Revival style, which was popular in the 19th century. The tea house has a rectangular shape, with a pointed roof and four turrets at each corner. The walls are made of stone, with arched windows and doors. The interior of the tea house would have been decorated with plasterwork, woodwork and stained glass.
The Martin Tea House Folly was built around 1840, during the reign of Queen Victoria. It was used by Robert Martin and his family until his death in 1874. After that, the tea house fell into disrepair and was abandoned. In 1911, the University of Galway (then known as Queen’s College Galway) acquired the land where the tea house stands, as part of its expansion plan. The tea house was partially restored by the University in 1992, with the help of Galway Civic Trust, a local heritage organisation. The tea house is now open to the public and can be accessed from the university campus.
The Martin Tea House Folly is a rare example of a folly in Ireland, and a testament to the history and culture of Galway. It offers a glimpse into the life and times of Robert Martin and his family, who were influential figures in Galway society. It also provides a beautiful view of the River Corrib and its surroundings, which are rich in wildlife and biodiversity. The tea house is a peaceful and relaxing spot, where you can enjoy a picnic or a stroll along the river.
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