Friday, 27 November 2015

Blarney Castle

THE COLTHURST BARONETS WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY CORK, WITH 31,260 ACRES.

The founder of this family in Ireland was Colonel John Colthurst, who was murdered by native Irish rebels in 1607.

His lineal descendant,

JOHN COLTHURST, of Ballyally, County Cork, married Eliza, daughter of Sir Nicholas Purdon.

In 1684, this gentleman was granted extensive land in County Cork. He had issue,
Nicholas, a colonel in the army, High Sheriff of Cork, 1736;
JOHN, of whom presently.
His younger son,

JOHN COLTHURST, of Ardrum, MP for Tallagh, 1734-57, High Sheriff of County Cork, 1738, who married firstly, Alice, daughter of James Conway; and secondly, Mahetabel, daughter of William Wallis.

Dying in 1756, he was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN CONWAY COLTHURST, who wedded, in 1741, Lady Charlotte FitzMaurice, daughter of Thomas, 1st Earl of Kerry, by whom he had five sons.

Mr Colthurst was created a baronet in 1774.

He died in 1775, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JOHN CONWAY COLTHURST, 2nd Baronet (c1743-87), who was killed in a duel by Dominick Trant; and dying unmarried, the title devolved upon his brother,

SIR NICHOLAS COLTHURST, 3rd Baronet, who wedded Harriet, second daughter of the Rt Hon David la Touche, by whom he had issue,
NICHOLAS CONWAY, his heir;
Elizabeth; Catherine.
Sir Nicholas died in 1795, and was succeeded by his only son,

SIR NICHOLAS CONWAY COLTURST, 4th Baronet (1789-1829), Colonel of the Cork Militia, trustee of the linen manufacture, MP for the city of Cork.
The heir apparent is the present holder's only son John la Touche Conway Colthurst (b 1988).

BLARNEY CASTLE, Blarney, County Cork, is an unusually large tower-house of 1446 which incorporates the famous Blarney Stone, high up beneath the battlements.

The 4th Earl of Clancarty had supported JAMES II, with the result that his forfeited estate was granted to the Hollow Swords Company at the end of the Williamite wars.

In 1704 the Mayor of Cork, Sir James St John Jefferyes, purchased the estate and built a new house attached to the original castle.

This was greatly enlarged by his descendants and developed into large Georgian Gothic building with a central bow, rows of lancet windows and pinnacled battlements.

In 1820 this house was destroyed by fire and not rebuilt, though its remains can still be seen today.

In 1846 Louisa Jane, the Jefferyes heiress, married a neighbour, Sir George Colthurst, of Ardrum near Inniscarra.

He was a man of property, with another large estate at Ballyvourney near the border with County Kerry, along with Lucan House in County Dublin.

He also inherited Blarney on his father-in-law’s death.

When her first children died, Lady Colthurst demanded a new house at Blarney on an elevated site.

This was built in the Scots Baronial style, to the designs of Sir Thomas Lanyon of Belfast who, rather surprisingly, incorporated a number of classical details from Ardrum into the design.

Their high quality shows that this must have been an important building.


BLARNEY HOUSE is typical of its type, with pinnacles, crow-stepped gables and a profusion of turrets with conical roofs.

The interior has a double height inner hall, lit from above, a pair of interconnecting drawing rooms and a massive oak staircase.


The style varies from faux Jacobean to Adam Revival, and the rooms have tall plate-glass windows which overlook the lake.

Nearby, the Jefferyes family created the unique Rock Close, an early 18th century druidic garden layout of large rocks, boulders and yew trees; with dolmens, a stone circle and a druid’s altar.

Today Blarney House is the home of Sir Charles Colthurst, 10th Baronet.

In 2009, Sir Charles donated the family papers of the Colthurst family to the Cork City and County Archives, adding to a previous legal collection relating to this family already in the Archives.

First published in November, 2011.

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