There are several manors and houses of note in Castlemagner. Here you will find details of the most prominent houses:

 

Assolas House
Assolas House
ASSOLAS HOUSE
Assolas House is the oldest known and perhaps the most historic residence in Duhallow. It was the focal point in the Battle of Knocknanuss in November 1647. Prior to the reformation (1558), it is generally accepted that Assolas was occupied by a community of Catholic monks.

The present stone out-offices with the still visible castings of closed-up windows, all in an excellent state of preservation, bear ample testimony to its monastic nature. A unique feature of this building is the presence of a "Leper's Peep", still visible, and which lends much weight to the theory of its religious origins. It notable that the "Leper's Peep" has been a source of much interest and controversy to historians during the past century.

The original house is today the centre of the present residence. The shape of the windows, the exterior of rough stone and mortar, strengthened by the addition of horse hair and ox blood, the great thickness of the walls, and the wood-panelled first floor rooms, are all in keeping with these monastic origins. The east wing would appear to have been added about a hundred years after the original building. Perhaps its most interesting features are the beautifully rounded frontage, the deep cantilever roof with windows just below, and the large old flagstone kitchen on the ground floor (the White dining room -- which incidentally was in use up to 1915).

Unfortunately, no records are available to tell us when precisely the front wing was built. One can only surmise that it was in the latter half of the 18th century. It is most certainly Queen Ann style with the added rounded gables giving a soft exterior and a beautifully proportioned interior. The windows, all the woodwork, in particular the fresco around the hall ceiling, and the carved doors are the work of skilled craftsmen, while most of the window panes throughout the house are the original hand blown glass with all its imperfections. For nearly seventy years after the Battle of Knocknanuss, the shrouded mists of time have veiled the secrets of Assolas in its four and a half foot thick walls until 1714 when Reverend Francis Gore took up residence. He was responsible for much of the present layout of the house and gardens. The residence and surrounds prospered under his management.

Reverend Gore seems to have been a man of means and influence. He was also a minister and a Protestant Rector of Castlemagner parish for 34 years. He died on May 10 1748 and is buried under the reading desk in the Church of Ireland Church, Castlemagner. During his life at Assolas, the road from Kanturk to Cecilstown had not been constructed. An old carriage way ran through Lisduggan and crossed the river at a ford, still visible today beside Assolas House, joining the present road at Lacken Leigh. Every night during his 34 years at Assolas, Reverend Gore hung a lantern high on the wall of the house shining its light on the waters of the ford to guide the travelers on their way. It is reported that, during this period, highwaymen often lurked at dangerous crossings for innocent victims. Assolas House was always open to receive the wounded should they fall prey to roaming bands. This warm friendly light became so well known that the house by the ford took its name in Gaelic, the spoken language of the time, as Atha Solas (the ford of the light, later adapted to its English version, Assolas). As a final tribute to Reverend Gore, the ruling Church of Ireland authorities granted the use of a private pew in Castlemagner Church of Ireland Church to the owner of Assolas.

The pages of history turn Assolas:

In 1749 Assolas passed from Mr Gore to Mr Phillip Oliver, J.P. for County Cork. Subsequent transfers were as follows:

Henry Wrixon, Sir William Beecher Bart 1794
William Harris J.P. 1814
William Beecher D.L. 1830 Hayden O'Brien 1850
Henry Smith Iron Founder, Cork 1880
Colonel O'Hare 1900
Sir John Beecher Bart 1902
Hon Alexis Roche 1904
Burke family (1915)

The Burkes are the first Catholic owners of Assolas since the far off days of the monks some 300 years earlier.

To the present day, Assolas has withstood the ravages of time, seen war, strife, prosperity, and famine. The grounds still have many ancient yew trees that were planted exclusively in the early days for a plentiful supply of good quality bows. What the future holds for Assolas no one knows but it will continue to stand as a silent monument to the skills and craftsmanship of the unknown people who built it many centuries ago.

Historical Note:
Sir William Beecher of Assolas House was the first master of the Duhallow Hounds. The hounds were kennelled at Assolas.

Honourable Alexis Roche, the last Beecher tenant before the present owners, died 18 December 1914 and is buried in a small grave in Castlemagner cemetery. He was a great uncle of the deceased Princess of Wales, Lady Diana Spencer. Mr Roche's great granddaughter is married to Patrick Mayhew, the former Tory Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. He was a recognised judge of horses and built 12 stables at Assolas. He derived a considerable portion of his income from the sale of horses.

His daughter was married to Lord Goucham who, at the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, was Chancellor of the Exchequer. As such he was responsible for the first wartime budget. It is said of him that to get this correct, he came to Ireland with his wife for quietness. This budget, which had much to do with influencing European history, was drafted in the drawing room of Assolas.

GUESTHOUSE DETAILS
Assolas Country House
Grade A (Reg. I T. B.)

Tel: +353 (29) 50015
Fax: +353 (29) 50795

Over the past 30 years Assolas Country House & Restaurant has earned itself an enviable international reputation for its food, grounds, and hospitality. Assolas House has been featured in many American, British and Irish Television programmes and also many international magazines and newspapers including:

Gourmet & Bon Appetite
Home & Gardens
The Times
The Telegraph
The Mail on Sunday
Gault Milieu (France)
Country Living (American)
Country Living (British)

Assolas House has received many awards including:

Two Red Symbols
The Michelin Guide
Caesar Award
Good Hotel Guide (1995) judging Assolas the best small hotel in Ireland
Egon Ronay Star
Two Galtee Breakfast Awards
AA Rosette for high standard of food served
Irish Cheese of the year (1995)
Egon Ronay Regional Meat Restaurant of the year (1994)
Egon Ronay Gilby's Gold Medal Award for excellence in Catering (1994)
Bridgestone Guide Star (1995)

Assolas has also received the 5 Qs top award from the AA as a premium quality Guesthouse (1993) (1994) and (1995). It has been selected their top choice in Ireland. The Grounds & Gardens of Assolas have also received high praise and many awards including the All Ireland National Bord Failte Garden Award. This is reflected also in the two awards received from Bord Failte Environmental Development Department.

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Glenlohane House
GLENLOHANE HOUSE
John Sharp, of a prominent Quaker family living at Mount Conway outside Cork City, built Glenlohane in 1741. The Sharp and Bolster families intermarried in the early 1800's and the house was enlarged in 1836 to about its present size. Now, in the 1990's, the present generation of the family have again made Glenlohane a most comfortable house while still attempting to keep obvious signs of the 20th Century as unobtrusive as possible.

Desmond and Melanie Sharp Bolster represent the 10th generation of the family to live at Glenlohane.

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Ruskeen House
Ruskeen House
RUSKEEN HOUSE
Ruskeen house gets its name from the old parish of Ballyruskeen (town of the beautiful wood) It was a small parish, 1674 acres and 38 perches. In 1881 it had a population of only 260. It was part of the parish of Clonmeen (Down Survey Map 1656). Conor O'Callaghan of Dromineen County Cork surrendered his property to Queen Elizabeth for the purpose of a regrant with a secure title.

Tadgh Roe O'Callaghan lost 370 acres in Ruskeen parish for his part in the 1641 rebellion. This land was then granted to Elizabeth Fenton who later married Sir William Petty in 1669.

In 1840 Ruskeen house was owned by Mrs. A.L. Irwin. She rented 99 acres to Mr. James McKessy. Ruskeen house was built by Pierce Power in 1837 on a demesne of 200 acres. It was given to the Powers in 1705 as a dowry for Mary O'Callaghan of Dromineen on her marriage to Francis Power (This couple were the parents of Mrs. A.L Irwin). Their son John was a founder member of the Duhallow hunt. Pierce Power, their son, assumed ownership of Ruskeen house from 1837. In 1867, John Power of Ruskeen married Elizabeth Longfield of Longueville. His brother, Francis H. Power, lived in and owned Ruskeen house until 1893. The house has been refurbished by the present owners, the Murphy family, who purchased it in 1940.

The Powers arrived in Ireland in 1177 through Sir Robert Power, Knight Marshall to Henry I. In 1591, Ruskeen, like Castlemagner, became a Protestant parish and was joined to Clonmeen. The vicar was Cornelius O'Brien. In 1610, Ruskeen was granted to Sir John Jepson K T of Mallow. In 1731 Ruskeen had no mass house, no priest or no school (Roman Catholic Diocese of Cloyne). In 1837 Roskeen Roman Catholic parish was amalgamated with Castlemagner Roman Catholic parish. An incomplete list of Roman Catholic priests for Ruskeen church is as follows:

Fr. Maurice Collins 1394 -

Fr. Cornelius Sheehan 1460 -

The old Roman Catholic church is situated adjacent to the present day Ruskeen House.

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BALLYGIBLIN HOUSE

Ballygiblin House
Ballygiblin House

Ballygiblin, the seat of the
Wrixon-Beecher family was of ancient origin. It was later extended by Sir William Wrixon-Beecher and completed in 1839. Sir William Wrixon-Beecher was a local landlord with approximately 20,000 acres of land. The house was called after Ballygiblin near Fermoy, where the Wrixons originated from. The last Sir William married Lady Emily Hare. They had thirteen children. The house and land was bought by Mr. Jack Lombard in 1935. He farmed the estate and kept a successful racing and training stable. The Lombard family sold it to Mr. Hornsby of Mallow in 1955. He demolished this beautiful house in 1960.

Several contemporary descriptions of the Ballygiblin estate are available and are quoted below. They give an interesting insight into the quality of the estate.

Townsend (1815)
"A little beyond Lohort Castle is Ballygiblin, the seat of William Wrixon, Esq., on which the hand of judicious improvement has within the last twenty-five years been happily employed. Nature, indeed, has lavished her gifts with no common liberality, but art had contributed little to their embellishment before that period. The grounds, beautiful in form and admirable fertility, were open and undressed, the plantation consisting only of some hedgerow ash. In some places, too, they were disfigured by naked and ill-placed walls. The alteration produced by neat culture and a judicious extent of varied plantation, rapidly brought forward by the richness of the soil, may be easily conceived. The situation of the house was fortunately well chosen; it looks to the south, the best aspect of the climate, and besides some of the handsomest grounds of the demesne, commands a fine view of Lohort Castle, towering over a surrounding grove, at a distance from which Mount Hilary raises its majestic head."

An interesting comment is also made on the mode of agriculture employed.

"Mr. Wrixon has also adopted a style of farming very different from the old and unskillful mode that formerly prevailed, when little more than the grazing system was known or practiced. He cultivates potatoes in the drill method, and occasionally raises turnips and rape for winter and spring feeding. Part of his land is admirably adapted for sheep, of which he has a fine flock, bred by himself. They are of the Leicester kind, now common in many parts of the country, and a great improvement on the old and large-legged breed. Mr. Wrixon makes much use of lime, which is abundantly furnished from the stone on his grounds. He has also culm on a part of his estate, about a mile-and-a-half to the southward of Ballygiblin."

Lewis (1837)
"Ballygiblin, the seat of Sir W. W. Becher, Bart., is an elegant mansion of some antiquity, but recently modernised with great taste. In its beautiful demesne are the ivy-clad ruins of a church, which tradition states was intended to be the parish church, but was not completed."

Gibson (1867)
"Ballygiblin is the modern and beautiful castellated mansion of Sir Henry Becher. The Becher family came to Ireland in the time of Elizabeth. Colonel Becher was aide-de-camp to William III at the Battle of the Boyne, who presented him with a watch, which is now in the possession of Mr Becher of Lakelands, near Skibbereen. [In 1907 the watch was held by the Rev. H. Becher, Rector of Castlehaven, Co. Cork.]"

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