This family is desended from Ceallachan, or Callaghan, a prince of Munster, renowned for his exploits against the Danes.
His descendants founded a monastery of Austin Friars at Clonmene, and the castle of Drumaneen, which was their chief seat.
About the time of JAMES I, they erected a very stately house on the foundation of the castle, which was ruined in the late wars.
CORNELIUS O'CALLAGHAN was lord and chieftain of Callaghan, and seised of several large territories in 1594, as appears by an inquisition taken by Sir Thomas Norris, Vice-President of Munster, in 1594.
From him descended,
CORNELIUS O'CALLAGHAN ESQ, (grandson of Cornelius O'Callaghan Esq, an eminent lawyer, and MP for Fethard, in the reign of Queen Anne,) who was elevated to the peerage, in 1785, by the title of Baron Lismore, of Shanbally, County Tipperary.
Lord Lismore married, in 1774, Frances, 2nd daughter of Mr Speaker Ponsonby, of the Irish House of Commons, and niece of William, Earl of Bessborough, by whom he had issue,
CORNELIUS, 2nd Baron, who was created VISCOUNT LISMORE, in 1806.
He married, in 1808, Lady Eleanor Butler, youngest daughter of John, Earl of Ormonde, and sister of the Marquess of Ormonde, by whom he had one only daughter, born in 1811.
GEORGE PONSONBY, 2nd Viscount, was an officer in the 17th Lancers; High Sheriff of County Tipperary, 1853; Lord-Lieutenant of County Tipperary, 1857-85.
Although the 2nd Viscount had two sons, they both predeceased him, so the titles became extinct.
Shanbally was long and irregular, of a silver-grey ashlar. It had numerous machiolations, towers and battlements.
The entrance front was pointed-arched, with a vaulted porte-cochere under a porch-tower.
Shanbally Castle was situated in a picturesque landscape, bounded to the north and south by two mountain ranges, the Galtees and the Knockmealdowns.
It is said that Shanbally bore a remarkable resemblance to Nash and Repton's joint venture, Luscombe Castle in Devon, though Shanbally was considerably larger.
The 2nd and last Viscount Lismore left Shanbally to his cousins, Lady Beatrice Pole-Carew and Lady Constance Butler, daughters of the 3rd Marquess of Ormonde.
Shanbally was sold in 1954 by Major Patrick Pole-Carew.
Following attempts by the Hon Edward Sackville-West (5th Lord Sackville) to rescue the Castle, it was demolished in 1957 and its ruin blown up.
The following is a composition by Bill Power of the Mitchelstown Heritage Society:
Built for Cornelius O'Callaghan, 1st Viscount Lismore, ca 1810, the mansion was the largest house built in Ireland by the famous English architect, John Nash.
When the Irish Land Commission purchased the Shanbally estate in 1954, one of the immediate questions which it addressed was what should become of the castle.
For a brief period it seemed that a purchaser could be found in the form of the London theatre critic Edward Sackville-West, 5th Lord Sackville, who had a tremendous love of the Clogheen area, which he had known since childhood.
Land Commission refused to stop cutting trees in the land he intended to buy.
Consequently, by 1957, the fate of the castle was sealed.
The Irish Land Commissioners, with Irish Government approval, decided to proceed with plans to demolish the castle on the grounds that they had no use for it and that it was in poor condition.
They ignored suggestions that a religious community might be found for the building, and also
rejected its suitability as a forestry school.
In that year, Professor Denis Gwynn, wrote an article in the `Cork Examiner' in which he pleaded with the authorities to reverse their decision:
Shanbally Castle has been well known for years as one of the most graceful and original examples in Ireland of late Georgian architecture,' he said.`Its formal gardens, which have run wild, could easily be brought back to order."
The Professor pointed out that Shanbally Castle was designed by one of the most famous of all modern architects, who also planned all the well known terraces that surround Regent's Park in London, and so many other celebrated buildings in England, `What conceivable justification can
"All around the house, with its long avenues, the land has been admirably laid out and planted with fine trees in groups to enhance the views and to produce valuable timber,' he continued. `More recently there has been wholesale clearance of the timber. Last summer I saw cutting in progress at many places, and big gaps had been made in the boundary walls to assist removal of the felled trees.
Describing the order to demolish the castle as an `act of vandalism,' Professor Gwynn called for an inquiry into the circumstances of the decision. There is no sense whatever in squandering public money on the destruction of a beautiful house which is well known to students of Nash's domestic architecture,' he added.But Professor Gwynn's article was already too late: Despite some local opposition and widespread critical comment, the roof was removed and some of its impressive cut stones were being removed by hand and broken into smaller pieces for use in road building.
The house, with its twenty stately bedrooms, extensive drawing rooms, dining room, library, marble fireplaces and mahogany staircase was rapidly reduced to a state of ruin.
In 1960, The Nationalist newspaper 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.
In the weeks prior to the explosion, demolition workers bored 1,400 holes, 18 inches above ground, into the cut stone of the castle.
Each hole was then filled with explosives which were detonated on 21 March 1960. Almost all of this material was used for road building.
The protests against the demolition of Shanbally Castle came from some local sources, An Taisce and a few academics such as Professor Gwynn. Politically, the Fianna Fail Government had no love for houses of the Ascendancy.
However, remarkably, it was from within the ranks of Fianna Fail that the only political voices were raised against the demolition plans, albeit privately.
One was Senator Sean Moylan, the Irish Minister for Agriculture until his death in 1957, and the other was his close friend and TD from Mitchelstown, John W Moher.
They were over-ruled by the Cabinet and failed to get wider political support, even from opposition deputies.
When the explosion finally came, the Irish Government saw fit to issue a terse public statement 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,' said the statement.
First published in October, 2011.