Tyrone House is one of the most impressive and intriguing historic buildings in County Galway. It was built in the 1770s by Christopher St. George, a member of an old Norman Irish family that had settled in the area since the 13th century. The house was designed by John Roberts, a renowned architect who also worked on Moore Hall in County Mayo and Waterford Cathedral.
Tyrone House was a grand Georgian mansion with Palladian features, standing on a promontory overlooking the estuary of the Kilcolgan river. It had three floors over a basement, and was constructed of limestone with a slate roof. The house had a symmetrical facade with a central pedimented portico, flanked by two wings with curved bows. The interior was lavishly decorated with plasterwork, woodwork, marble fireplaces and paintings. The house was surrounded by extensive gardens, parkland, woodlands and farmland.
Tyrone House was the seat of the St. George family for over a century, and witnessed many events and changes in Irish history. The St. Georges were prominent landowners and politicians, who supported the Protestant Ascendancy and the British Crown. They were also patrons of the arts and sciences, and hosted many distinguished guests at Tyrone House.
Arthur French St. George became the owner of the estate in 1824, and his son Christopher St. George (1810-1877) was very involved in the economic and sporting activities of the region. He was one of the founders of the Galway Blazers hunt in 1839, and he also helped to start the Galway races. He had a passion for horse-riding and marine farming, which led him to create the famous Kilcolgan oyster beds along the coast of Galway.
However, Tyrone House also faced many challenges and difficulties throughout its history. The house was exposed to harsh weather conditions, such as storms and floods, which damaged its structure and grounds. The house also suffered from neglect and decay, as the St. George family faced financial problems and social decline in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The St. George family, like many other Irish aristocratic families, suffered from the hardships of the 19th century, and after the death of Honoria Kane St. George, Christopher’s widow, they left the property in 1905. The valuable items that were in the house were then distributed among the surviving family members and removed from the estate.
The house was described as “rather dilapidated” by Violet Martin, who visited it in 1912. The house also became the inspiration for Edith Somerville’s novel “The Big House at Inver”, published in 1925.
The final blow to Tyrone House came in 1920, during the Irish War of Independence. The house was destroyed by the local IRA unit, who believed that it was going to be used by the Black and Tans as an infirmary. The house was uninhabited at the time, except for a bed-bound caretaker who was rescued by the IRA before they set fire to the mansion. The house was never rebuilt, and remains a ruin to this day.
Tyrone House is a fascinating example of the rise and fall of the Anglo-Irish gentry in Ireland, and their complex relationship with the native Irish population. It is also a testament to the architectural and artistic achievements of the Georgian era, and the cultural legacy of the St. George family. Tyrone House is now a protected structure under the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH), and is accessible to the public via a footpath from Kilcolgan village, although care is advised when visiting the ruin and also to respect the local landowners land. The house is well worth a visit for anyone interested in Irish history, heritage and architecture.
There are currently no reviews submitted.