Shanbally Castle and Tea Rooms

Shanbally Castle

Shanbally Castle

Clogheen was predominantly owned by the Landlord O’Callaghan Family in the late 18th and early 19th century.  Cornelius O’Callaghan was given the title of Lord Lismore in the early 1800’s and built Shanbally Castle around 1812, which was destroyed in 1960.

It was valued at £151 in the mid 19th century. Inherited by two daughters of the Marquess of Ormonde Lady Beatrice Pole Carew and Lady Constance Butler following the death of their cousin the 2nd and last Viscount Lismore in 1898. The Irish Tourist Association Survey in the early 1940s records that the building was taken over by the military authorities “for the duration of the present emergency”. The castle was sold by Major Patrick Pole Carew in 1954 (thank you for this information to the Landed Estates Database, NUI, Galway.)

The ruin of Shanbally Castle (Loc8 Code – Q26-83-Y92) is located outside Clogheen off the Ballyporeen road (second right, first right, first left and on the left) off The Bella road. It was built for Cornelius O’Callaghan, the first Viscount Lismore, around 1810. The mansion was the largest house built in Ireland by the noted English architect, John Nash who also designed the Swiss Cottage, a cottage orné outside Cahir. The castle was acquired by the Irish Land Commission in 1960. On 21 March 1960 the castle, after much controversy, was demolished.

The protests against the demolition of Shanbally Castle came from some local sources, An Taisce, a few academics such as Professor Gwynn and some political voices such as Senator Sean Moylan, the Minister for Agriculture until his death in November 1957, and TD from Mitchelstown, John W Moher. Politically, the Fianna Fail Government had no love for houses of the ascendancy and local TD Michael Davern was in favour of its demolition.

For a brief period it seemed that a purchaser could be found in the form of the London theatre critic Edward Charles Sackville-West, 5th Baron Sackville, who had a tremendous love of the Clogheen area, which he had known since childhood. He agreed to buy the castle, together with 163 acres (0.66 km2), but pulled out of the transaction when the Irish Land Commission refused to stop cutting trees in the land he intended to buy.

When this sale did not happen, the Irish Government claimed that it could not find another suitable owner for the castle. In March 1960, The Nationalist reported the final end of a building which was once the pride of the neighbourhood. “A big bang yesterday ended Shanbally Castle, where large quantities of gelignite and cortex shattered the building,” it said. The explosion could be heard up to 10 miles (16 km) away.

A statement from the Irish Government released after the demolition of the Castle said in response to protests favouring the retention of Shanbally Castle for the nation: “Apart from periods of military occupation the castle remained wholly unoccupied for 40 years.”

Shanbally Castle, Clogheen, Ruins

Shanbally Castle, Clogheen, Ruins

Information courtesy of Wikipedia so it may not be entirely correct. If you know of information which should be included please email them to me at

As you can see from the picture to the right, not much of the castle remains, but it is easy enough to find it if you travel along the road on which it is located.

The Tea Rooms of Shanbally Castle are still in existence, as is some of the wall from its famous walled garden, click here for a little more information on the building.

It is also worth visiting JP Morrissey’s excellent piece on Shanbally Castle on his own blog. It includes some excellent pictures of the interior and exterior of the castle before it was torn down.

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