Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Lissadell House

THE GORE-BOOTH BARONETS WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY SLIGO, WITH 31,774 ACRES


This family is a branch of the house of GORE, of Manor Gore, baronets, springing from

SIR FRANCIS GORE, Knight, of Artarman, County Sligo (fourth son of Sir Paul Gore Bt, of Manor Gore, and brother of Sir Arthur Gore, ancestor of the Earls of Arran).

Sir Francis wedded Anne, daughter and heiress of Robert Parke, of Newtown, County Leitrim, and by her had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
Paul;
Francis;
Ralph, Lord Mayor of Dublin, 1715;
Charles;
William;
Arthur;
Henry;
Richard;
Isabella; Mary; Anne; Elizabeth.
The eldest son,

SIR ROBERT GORE, knight, of Newtown, who married, in 1678, Frances, daughter of Sir Thomas Newcomen, knight, of Sutton, County Dublin, had, with seven sons, four daughters:
Catherine;
Frances;
Anne;
Mary.
Sir Robert was succeeded at his decease, in 1705, by his eldest surviving son,

NATHANIEL GORE, of Artarman and of Newtown Gore, who wedded, in 1711, Lettice, only daughter and heiress of Humphrey Booth, of Dublin, by whom he had two sons and three daughters, viz.
BOOTH, his heir;
John;
Letitia, Mrs French;
Angel Catherine, Mrs Dawson;
Frances.
Mr Gore was succeeded by his eldest son,

BOOTH GORE (1712-73), of Lissadell, County Sligo, who was created a baronet in 1760.

Sir Booth married Emily, daughter of Brabazon Newcomen, of County Carlow, by whom he had two sons and a daughter.

He died in 1773, and was succeeded by his elder son,

SIR BOOTH GORE, 2nd Baronet, of Lissadell, and of Huntercombe House, Buckinghamshire; at whose decease, unmarried, in 1804, the title devolved upon his only brother,

SIR ROBERT GORE, 3rd Baronet, who assumed, by sign manual, in 1804, the additional surname and arms of BOOTH.

This gentleman married a daughter of Henry Irwin, of Streamstown, County Sligo, and had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
Henry;
Anne.
He was succeeded by his elder son,

SIR ROBERT GORE-BOOTH, 4th Baronet (1805-76), of Lissadell, who espoused, in 1827, Caroline, second daughter of Robert, 1st Viscount Lorton, by whom he had no issue.

He married secondly, in 1830, Caroline Susan, second daughter of Thomas Goold, of Dublin, a master in Chancery.
The Lissadell Papers are deposited at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.


LISSADELL HOUSE, near Ballinful, County Sligo, was built in 1836,in the Neo-Classical Greek Revival style.

It stands grey and austere on an eminence overlooking Sligo Bay, and at the foot of the magnificent Ben Bulben.

There are no outbuildings to mar the simple, classical lines, and likewise no attics.

The outbuildings are connected to the house by a service tunnel which runs from a sunken courtyard to the avenue and stable yard, and staff quarters are in the basement.

The limestone was quarried locally at Ballisodare (location of Yeats’ Salley Gardens).

Francis Goodwin was so proud of his design that it featured in his book Domestic Architecture (on display in the Gallery), the only private residence to do so.


The entrance to the house is by the Porte Cochère, through which Ben Bulben is framed.

The house faces Knocknarea, “That cairn heaped grassy hill where passionate Maeve is stony still”, and has magnificent views over Sligo Bay.

Inside, the house is full of light and brightness – in the gallery, the bow-room, on the Great Staircase, and in the drawing-room.

The drawing-room has stunning views of Ben Bulben, Knocknarea and Sligo Bay, and is now home to a remarkable series of AE paintings, and paintings by Paul Henry, Jack B. Yeats, Sir John Lavery, Walter Osborne, John Butler Yeats, Percy French and Humbert Craig.

The bow-room has a wonderful collection of Regency books, reflecting the tastes of Caroline Susan Goold, who married Sir Robert in 1830.

The bow-room, and a small suite of rooms behind, later served as the main living and sleeping rooms of the family of Gore-Booth siblings living in near poverty in the 1960s and 70s, when the remainder of the house was uninhabited.

The gallery, formerly the music-room, has remarkable acoustics.

It is oval in shape, lit by a clerestory and skylights and is 65 feet in length.

It still has its original Gothic Chamber Organ made by Hull of Dublin in 1812, and also a walnut full size 1820 Grand Piano.

The Gallery is famous for two superb suites of Grecian gasoliers by William Collins, a chandelier maker of the Regency period.

The gasoliers were lit by a gasometer on the estate and as late as 1846 Lissadell was the only country mansion in Ireland lighted with gas generated locally at its own purpose built gasometer.

The images on the dining-room pilasters were painted in 1908 by Casimir Markievicz, husband to Constance Gore-Booth.

The ante-room was a favourite room of Constance Gore-Booth, and was known as her ‘den’. Indeed she has engraved her name on one of the windowpanes.

This room is now home to many of her artistic works, including her sketch of the painter Sarah Purser, and her drawings of Molly Malone.

The billiards-room contains the memorabilia collected by Sir Henry, 5th Baronet.

The basement includes the servants’ hall, butler's pantry, kitchen and pantries, the bakery, wine-cellars, china room, butler's bedroom, housekeeper's room, and the maids' sleeping quarters.

In 2003, Lissadell House was put up for sale by the then owner, Sir Josslyn Gore-Booth (a grand-nephew of the original Josslyn Gore-Booth), for €3 million.

Despite celebrities showing an interest in the property, it was hoped that it would be purchased by the Irish state.

The Lissadell estate is now the home of Edward Walsh, his wife Constance Cassidy and their seven children.
Writing about Lissadell for the Sunday Times forty years ago the BBC's Anne Robinson ('The Weakest Link') observed that "the garden is overgrown, the greenhouses are shattered and empty, the stables beyond repair, the roof of the main block leaks badly and the paintings show patches of mildew".
After 60 years of neglect an intensive programme of restoration - without any public funding - has taken place in the House, Gardens, Stable Block and grounds since 2004 and Lissadell is once again a place of beauty. Click here for the text of Anne Robinson's article.

No grants of any kind were made in respect of any part of the restoration, either for the house, the gardens or any part of the grounds.

The new owners' vision was to transform the estate into a flagship for tourism in County Sligo and the north-west of Ireland, whilst providing a secure environment for their children and for visitors.

They have stated that did not wish to exploit Lissadell commercially but to restore the house and gardens to their former glory, make Lissadell self-sustaining and protect this crucible of Ireland's historic and literary heritage.

Other former seats ~ Huntercombe, Buckinghamshire; and Salford, Lancashire.

First published in October, 2013. Select bibliography: LISSADELL HOUSE AND GARDENS WEBSITE.   Gore-Booth arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

4 comments :

Jonathan Kennedy said...

It seems that after leaving Lissadell, Sir Josslyn Gore-Booth has built himself a very smart house in Yorkshire which references another of Ireland's most distinctive houses ...

http://countryhouses.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/the-modern-smaller-country-house-home-farm-yorkshire/

Anonymous said...

Went there once in the 70s. A fairly mad old Baronet and, I think, a less barmy sister were wandering about. A more atmospheric place would be hard to imagine. Not to mention the Yeats connection. Brave of the family to take it on and hope it doesn't change too much.

Wee Gee said...

I refer to the comment by "Anonymous"; I visited Lissadell in the early 80s when the less barmy sister actually took guided tours. It was incredible to be in such a presence and hear her memories of the family. A wonderful trip - also, I enjoyed a large portion of home-baked Porter Cake in the old servants' hall! Recently, I revisited the house when it re-opened after the local problems of access roads had been sorted out. I have to say that it must be included in one's tour of the great houses of Ireland.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good arrangement, for all parties concerned, all around. Sir Jocelyn sensibly seized the relatively brief moment, a few years ago, when Irish country houses were viewed as appreciating assets which could, therefore, command premium prices. Simultaneously, the purchaser is clearly a new owner who cares deeply about Irish cultural heritage, architectural in particular, and has effectively saved Lissadell as well as making it a family home once again. An excellent outturn.