Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Clonfert Palace

THE SEE of Clonfert was founded near the end of the 6th century.

It lies chiefly in County Galway; a small part of County Roscommon belongs to it; with a single parish, on the east of the River Shannon, in County Offaly.

The greatest length of this diocese is twenty-nine miles, and the greatest breadth twenty-five miles.


CLONFERT HOUSE or Palace, near Eyrecourt, County Galway, stands close to the small medieval cathedral.

It is a long, low, narrow building of two storeys with an attic of dormer gables.

Clonfert House was built ca 1635 and extended in the late 18th century.

The entrance front comprises eight bays.

There were Venetian windows set in arched openings; 17th century oak beams and joists; and the roof might also have dated from this time.

When the diocese of Cashel was united with those of Killaloe and Kilfenora in 1833, the episcopal palace and See lands were purchased by John Eyre Trench, a distant kinsman of the Earls of Clancarty.

Thereafter the Trenches of Clonfert owned 5,409 acres of land in the county.


In 1951, John Arthur Burdett Trench sold Clonfert House to Sir Oswald Mosley Bt, who proceeded to renovate Clonfert with his wife Diana, Lady Mosley, and their two sons.

The building was largely destroyed by an accidental fire in December, 1954, and has remained ruinous since then.

THE FIRST Church of Ireland prelate to reside at Clonfert House was probably the Rt Rev Robert Dawson, Lord Bishop of Clonfert and Kilmacduagh, 1627-43.

Bishop Dawson, who succeeded to the prelacy in 1627, repaired or rebuilt and beautified Clonfert Palace.

A further twenty-two bishops followed, including the Right Rev Christopher Butson, in office from 1804-34, when the diocese merged with that of Killaloe and Kilfenora.

First published in September, 2015.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Dear Belmont, I am enjoying your series on Irish bishops' palaces very much. Keep up the good work. VC