Sunday, 9 October 2016

Marble Hill House

THE BURKE BARONETS, OF MARBLE HILL, WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY GALWAY, WITH 25,258 ACRES


This branch of the Burkes claims to be a scion from the house of CLANRICARDE; but more immediately connected with the Barons Bourke of Brittas.

THOMAS BURKE, of Gortenacuppogue (now Marble Hill), died at an advanced age, in 1714.

During the civil wars, in the time of CHARLES I, and subsequently in the revolution of 1688, his predecessors and himself lost a considerable portion of their lands; but he still preserved the estate upon which he resided, and it became the seat of the Burke baronets.

He married into the family of TULLY, great landed proprietors in County Galway, and owners of the Garbally estate, in the possession of the Earl of Clancarty.

The son of this Thomas,

JOHN BURKE, wedded the daughter of Carroll of Killoran, who was nearly allied to the Donelans, County Galway, and to the Carrolls of King's County.

By this lady the family acquired the Killoran estate.

Mr Burke died in 1793, aged 80, and was succeeded by his son,

THOMAS BURKE, of Marble Hill, who was created a baronet in 1797.

He espoused Christian, daughter of ____ Browne, of Limerick, of the Browne family of Camus, and had issue,
JOHN, his successor;
James, d 1812;
Maria; Julia; Elizabeth; Anne; Eleanor.
Sir Thomas died in 1813, and was succeeded by his elder son,

SIR JOHN BURKE, 2nd Baronet (1782-1847), of Marble Hill, a colonel in the army, who married Elizabeth Mary, eldest daughter of the Rt Hon John Calcraft MP, and had issue,
THOMAS JOHN, his heir;
Charles Granby;
James Henry;
Edward Howe;
Maurice William Otway;
Henry Ulick;
Elizabeth Anne; Caroline Jane.
Sir John was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR THOMAS JOHN BURKE, 3rd Baronet (1813-75), DL, of Marble Hill, MP for County Galway, who wedded the Lady Mary Nugent, daughter of Anthony, 9th Earl of Westmeath, and had issue,
JOHN CHARLES, 4th Baronet;
HENRY GEORGE, 5th Baronet;
THOMAS MALACHY, 6th Baronet;
William Anthony;
Julia Catherine Anne; Mary Clare Theresa.
Sir Thomas was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JOHN CHARLES BURKE, 4th Baronet (1858-90), who died unmarried, and the title devolved upon his next brother,

SIR HENRY GEORGE BURKE, 5th Baronet (1859-1910), JP, DL, who died a bachelor, and the baronetcy devolved upon his brother,

SIR THOMAS MALACHY BURKE, 6th Baronet (1864-1913), JP, who married, in 1893, Catherine Mary Caroline, daughter of Major-General James Henry Burke, and had issue, an only child,

SIR GERALD HOWE BURKE, 7th Baronet (1893-1954), DL, who wedded firstly, in 1914, Elizabeth Mary, daughter of Patrick Mathews, and had issue,
THOMAS STANLEY, his successor.
He espoused secondly, in 1920, Merrial Alison, daughter of Edward Christie, and had issue,
Bridget Alison;
Elizabeth Anne.
Sir Gerald was succeeded by his only son,

SIR THOMAS STANLEY BURKE, 8th Baronet (1916-89), who married, in 1955, Suzanne Margarete, daughter of Otto Theodore Salvisberg, and had issue,
JAMES STANLEY GILBERT, his successor;
Caroline Elizabeth.
Sir Thomas was succeeded by his son,

SIR JAMES STANLEY GILBERT BURKE (1956-), who wedded, in 1980, Laura, daughter of Domingo Branzuela, and has issue.


MARBLE HILL HOUSE, near Loughrea, County Galway, was built ca 1775 for John Burke, and enlarged after 1813 by Sir John Burke, 2nd Baronet.

It was an exceptional country house prior to its malicious destruction by fire in 1921.

Architectural quality and refinement are apparent in the design and detailing.

The masonry was executed by skilled craftsmen, as is apparent in the detailing of the door-case.

It forms part of a group of demesne-related structures that includes the gate lodge, outbuildings, walled garden and ice-house.

Marble Hill (Photo credit: Dr Patrick Melvin & Eamonn de Burca)

The house is now an ivy-covered, roofless ruin.

It comprised three storeys over a raised basement, with a canted entrance bay to the front (east) elevation, and two-storey return to rear.

Four-bay side elevations, with bowed bay to north side elevation, and with rear two bays of south projecting; moulded cornice; rubble limestone walls, with evidence of weather-slating to the west gable wall.

Square-headed window openings with stone sills and red brick surrounds; square-headed entrance doorway within pedimented carved limestone door-case, having channelled pilasters with plinths and moulded capitals.

Wrought-iron railings to entrance avenue.


The well designed range of outbuildings originally served the adjacent Marble Hill House.

The high-quality stonework suggests that it was a significant part of the former demesne and was possibly by the same architect responsible for the house.

Some original sash windows and gates survive.

Marble Hill estate once incorporated a weigh station, forge and smokehouse that are no longer standing.

The ruin of the original house is an ivy-covered shell beside the remains of a courtyard which included a pigeon loft, carriage house, abattoir and worker accommodation.

The mansion house was equipped with running water and flushing toilets, which was the state of the art at the time.

The house also had a central heating system based on technology developed in Roman times, still visible today.

When the estate was in full operation, it had a full complement of blacksmiths, carpenters, painters, gardeners, an engineer, and a catholic priest who said mass in a specially-built private chapel in the house every morning.

Several generations of Burkes were raised at Marble Hill until the family departed in 1922 for their house in London due to the political climate in Ireland.

Several of the Burke gentry throughout the generations served at Westminster and government bodies up to the late 1800s, Ted Burke being the last to serve in political office.

At this point they concentrated solely on the land.

The downfall of the Burke family began at this point as the only source of income for the once wealthy family was now rates paid by tenants.
By the early 1900s the estate was in decline and in severe financial difficulties. Burnt down in 1922 by the local IRA, the house burned for 4 days and 4 nights. The only thing that remained was a complete window which had been bricked up in the blue room.
The blue room was a child’s nursery. After the tragic death of a young infant, the window was sealed as the residents believed the house to be haunted. It was locked and never opened until the house burned down.
Like most landowners, the Burkes were known to sympathise with HM Government, and Thomas Burke helped raise a military regiment, the Connaught Rangers, in 1793 to support Great Britain in its war with France.

Although the Burkes had already left for England, the house was burned during the time known as “The Troubles”.

Over the following years the estate was divided among tenants and families.

The original farmyard and store buildings were given to the estate’s herd (an unofficial vet who cured animal illnesses with natural remedies).

Some of the buildings in the courtyard were knocked and the stone sold by the land commission.

The main house itself was completely destroyed, but the servant’s quarters and gardens were intact, including a glasshouse that was operational until the 1970s.

The Rafferty family resided here until the 1990s. Kate Rafferty, the Burkes' former housekeeper, purchased the remaining estate, operating it as a guest-house for many years.

After her death, the house passed to her son and fell into disrepair.

With no heirs, the ruin was eventually sold to a developer, whose plans have been halted by the current recession in 2012.

First published in August, 2012.

6 comments :

Anonymous said...

Have been to the house several times. This was my Fathers family home...A beautiful place but eerie!

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to find/obtain a genealogy? My 4x great grandmother was Harriet Burke. She grew up at Marble Hill & married a James Thynne. Her sister Charlotte apparently married the Earl of Denbigh, but that's all I know about them. I'd very much like to know how Harriet & Charlotte fit into the Burke family tree.

Timothy Belmont said...

The public record offices in Belfast and Dublin may hold information relating to the Burkes and Thynnes.

Burke's Landed Gentry and peerages are also very useful.

Jacqui Shepherd said...

I have just come across this article, it is amazing to read. Sir John Burke was my Great Grandfather 4 x. Many of my family were born at Marble Hill.

I have never visited the house or the area, I am trying to trace burial records as i would very much like to find their final resting places.

Thank you for such a great article

Anonymous said...

On a visit to Ireland from Australia we came across marble hill by accident when I noticed the 'For Sale' sign. We ventured in for a look and were greatly surprised. Not being descended from the Burke family but from the Crosdale or Croasdaile family, the Burke name comes up a lot as friends of the family. My g great grandfather was born in Woodford in 1815. I don't know if you have any info on this line or the Croasdalie mansion that used to be on the road out of town from woodford. thanks for the story on Marble Hill, it's great.Lyndel

Martin Burke said...

My name is Martin Burke and I am British. My distant Irish ancestry is still a bit vague but apparently my great great grandfather, John Burke, was a younger son of the Burke household at Marble Hill born around 1810.I believe that the famous Thomas Burke,victim of the Pheonix Park murders was a cousin, (though he would seem to be connected to the Glinsk side of the family).
Obviously I would be interested to find out more if anybody is able to.