I was looking for something else and came across Thomas Conolly Papers from the National Library of Ireland.  I have excerpted out the references to Liexlip Castle.

Leabharlann Náisiúnta na hÉireann
National Library of Ireland

Collection List No. 115


(MSS: 41,341 /1-10)
(Accession No.: 5493 (part of))

Letters and papers relating to the estate, business, political and family concerns of Thomas Conolly (1738-1803) of Castletown, Co. Kildare, 1760-1822

Compiled by Dr A.P.W. Malcomson

Celbridge Bridge over the River Liffey Photo by Irishshagua

Celbridge Bridge over the River Liffey
Photo by Irishshagua

MS 41,341 /3


Letters to Thomas Conolly from Michael Clarke, his head agent and man of business, mainly about the letting of Leixlip Castle.

Present in the folder are modern transcripts of these letters by the late Mrs Lena Boylan. She notes that Clarke had been appointed in 1754 under the late William Conolly’s will (from which she quotes) to ‘… state and audit all accounts relating to my estates real or personal and that he shall from time to time and as often as he is requested by my other executors, guardians of my children, give an account of all matters and things relating to all or any of the said affairs under his care and management and shall from time to be time be accountable to my son and other executors and guardians for such sum or sums of money as he shall receive out of my real and personal estate’; in consideration of which £200 was to be paid to Clarke half yearly.

The letters are as follows:

MS 41,341 /3

1 Jan. 1765

Clarke to Thomas Conolly, then in England.

He is forwarding £500 to Lady Anne [Conolly, née Wentworth, daughter of the 1st Earl; of Strafford; Conolly’s mother] as requested. He has borrowed £1,300 and will pay several drafts that are due with the balance. ‘… As to Leixlip not one word about it since I wrote last; they have given possession of the land and Coane tells me your cattle are on it.’ [Coane was Conolly’s kinsman and agent, and lived in Kildrought House, Celbridge.] The letter also mentions Mr Fraigneau, [Conolly’s former tutor and companion on the Grand Tour].

Robert Clements, later First Earl of Leitrim

Robert Clements, later First Earl of Leitrim

19 Jan. 1765

Clarke to Conolly.

‘… Leixlip was advertised the Tuesday after you went away and to my great surprise nobody has bid for it since, or taken any notice about it except Sir Harry Cavendish, who I had some discourse with today, and by what I can find he is deterred from bidding anything for it, as he says your demand is so very large and he would not offer any rent that might have the appearance of undervaluing anything belonging to you, and as for Mr Trevor I am well assured that he has not the least thoughts of taking it on any terms. Sir Harry told me that he had spoke to Will Clements about it, and between you and me I make no doubt but he has undervalued the land and is in hopes of getting it for his brother [Robert Clements, later 1st Earl of Leitrim] for much less than you offered it to him for, though you paid him a compliment about it. I begin to despair of getting it off our hands so soon as we had reason to expect, yet I would not recommend it to you to be too hasty in parting with it except Clements should close with you for what you first proposed, as his father [Nathaniel Clements] told me that he had wrote to him, and that if he had any thoughts of matrimony, he would consent to his taking it, and that he would enable him to keep it.’

30 Mar. 1765

Clarke to Conolly.

‘I got your letter of the 14th two days ago about the things at Leixlip, and as I hear you intend being here before the Curragh races, you will then be best judge yourself of what things should be kept for your house use. As to what is out of doors, to be sure no body ought to buy them but you.’

The Curragh race course, County Kildare Ireland - 1867

The Curragh race course, County Kildare Ireland – 1867

The Curragh is a flat open plain of around 5,000 acres of common land in Newbridge, County Kildare. It is still the site of Ireland’s Premier Flat Racecourse. Every year five classic races are held here; the Irish Derby Stakes, the Irish Oaks, the Irish 1,000 Guineas, the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the St. Leger.

4 May 1765

Clarke to Conolly.

‘I am glad you have ordered Bowers [carpenter at Castletown] to be discharged, which Coane did yesterday; he is a good-for-nothing vain fellow. Mrs Stone and I have consented to Cooper Walker’s valuing such things as are to be paid for in the house by you, and I hope we shall settle it next week. Not a word of any bidding for Leixlip. I am afraid people are terrified at so great a rent. Yet I hope this summer will induce some of the great folks to offer something for it.’

Magnolia at Compton Castle Photo by Chris Gunns

Magnolia at Compton Castle
Photo by Chris Gunns

1 June 1765

Clarke to Conolly.

‘I hope in a few days I shall get the valuation of the fixtures, etc, at Leixlip which I am sorry to find there are no bidders for as yet. Mrs Stone (previous to your directions to have the flowers, shrubs, etc, bought for you) had made a present of five pots of the Magn’ola [sic – magnolia] to Lady Betty Ponsonby, but the Speaker [John Ponsonby, Lady Betty’s husband], hearing that I had said Lady Louisa would be much disappointed in not getting them, sent for me and told me that she should have three of the pots, and that Lady Betty was determined to keep but two of them. The Speaker begged I would let you know this and that you would acquaint Lady Louisa with it.

Pray are we to see you here this summer. Though Castletown is not habitable, Leixlip is and may very soon be fitted up for you.’

Castletown House Photo by D Pierce McDonnell

Castletown House
Photo by D Pierce McDonnell

6 July 1765

Clarke to Conolly.

‘I wish with all my heart you may let Leixlip to some of those people you mention. I am sorry Lord Kildare has resigned. I fear he has done a hasty thing, but he knows his own business best.

Castletown by all accounts will take more time to fit it up for your reception than you imagine, but since the work is begun, the best way is to complete it and have done with the expense at once, and I hope when that is over we shall see ourselves gaining ground and no distresses presenting to our view which is now daily the case and for which I can’t tell you how much I suffer, but no man will be more happy when I find your affairs mend, for I do solemnly declare, I have it as much at heart as if you were my own son to see you live in the world with the splendour that your fortune entitles you to.

I have in three covers sent to you the inventory of the furniture, etc, at Leixlip, and which Mrs Stone begged might be sent you, as I suppose she wants you to buy all the furniture as they are valued, but I think you will want nothing but the chimney pieces, locks, etc, and everything that is their property which might damage or deface the house by taking them away. All the fixtures and brewing utensils in the brew house will be necessary for you to keep.’

Front Hall, Leixlip Castle

Fireplace in the Front Hall of Leixlip Castle

8 Aug. 1765

Clarke, Castletown, to Conolly.

‘I must observe to you that what money I have directed to be paid to tradesmen that are now actually employed has been done in order to keep them going on with the work, which they declared they would leave if they had not some subsistence to pay their journeymen and maintain themselves .’

Leixlip Castle, Ireland

Leixlip Castle

MS 41,341 /10

N.D.: 1811: 1822

Three letters and papers about Leixlip Castle, demesne and estate. The second is a valuation of the estate made for Thomas Conolly’s executors and trustees on 18 July 1811. This mentions that the castle and demesne are let in perpetuity to the Hon. George Cavendish at a rent of £400 per annum, plus a fine of £50 for each renewal, and that part of Stacumny is let to Sir Michael Cromie on the same tenure at £40 and £19. The sale value of the whole property, calculated at 20 years’ purchase of the rent and 4 years’ purchase of the renewal fines, amounts to £10,897.

Featured image National Library of Ireland by Jean Housen

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