I came upon an article about the family that lives at Tullynally Castle in Westmeath.
Thomas Pakenham inherited the castle from “his rather eccentric uncle Edward, the then Earl of Longford, founder of the Gate Theatre, a Gaelic speaker and a senator nominated by de Valera. The 80-room family seat at Castlepollard, a Gothic revival castle called Pakenham Hall, with its vast demesne but without electricity…”
After death duties, Pakenham Hall still had 1,500 surrounding acres. Thomas Pakenham changed the name back to the Gaelic, Tullynally.
He has been able to transform “the 1,000 acre farm into an intensive dairy operation, funds were generated to maintain the house and the demesne lands intact.”
Tullynally Castle is the largest house in private hands in Ireland. It was never really a defensive castle. It was originally Pakenham Hall, built some time around 1730. A third floor was added around 1780.
Pakenham Hall had one of the earliest recorded central heating systems in the British Isles, designed by inventor Richard Lovel Edgeworth. Heat came through floor grills to warm the enormous hall. By 1794, a telegraph line was run from Pakenham Hall 25 miles to Edgeworthstown.
The house was turned into a castle with Gothic Revival crenelation and towers added after 1800. The house has three and four-storey Gothic Revival and Tudoresque towers added.
Crenellations were added to the parapets.
The change from Pakenham Hall to Tullynully Castle was gradual, with at least four architects involved. Above is a drawing from 1820 by James Sheil, one of the architects.
Tullynally is Gaelic. It means “the mound of the swans.” The castle is near Lake Derravaragh, where legend tells that the Children of Lir were turned into swans by their stepmother.
This is the ground plan of the castle as it is now. The lighter color was by Morrison. The darker colors were additions by Sheil and Johnston.
Tullynally Castle is approached through expansive gardens.
Tullynally is reached from “a long tree-lined approach avenue” through a “castellated gate lodge castle.”
The Pakenham family still lives at Tullynally Castle. The gardens are open to the public.
Tullynally Castle, Tullynally, County Westmeath
Five-bay three-storey country house with projecting end bays to each end of entrance façade (west), built c.1730. Originally a two-storey structure with third floor added c.1780. Extensive Gothic Revival and Tudoresque remodeling carried out on at least three separate occasions between c.1800 to c.1850 with three and four-storey towers and/or bartizans added to the corners, crenellations added to the parapets and the construction of a number of two storey wings (some over basement) containing kitchens, stables, laundry and staff and private accommodation arranged around two courtyards adjoining house to the north, generally in ashlar limestone, creating the present complex irregular plan. Possibly containing the fabric of a mid-to-late seventeenth century (fortified) house. Original house is roughcast rendered over coursed limestone masonry, exposed to east elevation. Square-headed openings to first and second floors on entrance front (west) with cut-stone sills, timber sliding sash windows and hoodmouldings over. Segmental-headed openings to ground floor with tripartite timber sliding sash windows with hoodmouldings over. Round-headed openings with timber tracery to centre three bays of first floor on west facade. Three-bay single-storey ashlar limestone entrance porch, with central segmental-headed carriage-arch/doorcase with studded timber doors, added to centre of main elevation (west), c.1805 and altered c.1845 with addition of bartizans to the corners. Full-height canted projection added to north end of the east elevation, c.1820. Gable-fronted projection with crow-stepped parapet and three graded round-headed openings to east elevation. Single-bay two-storey castellated gate house (on rectangular plan with integral Tudor-pointed carriage arch and a projecting polygonal tower rising a further storey above crenellated parapet over) to north end of complex gives access to outer courtyard. Inner courtyard accessed through two-storey block (on rectangular plan) having integral segmental-headed carriage with open belfry/clock tower (on hexagonal plan) over having sprocketed natural slate roof and cast-iron weather vane finial. Tullynally Castle is set in extensive parkland demesne with landscaped gardens to the west and southwest (having ornamental lake), walled garden to the west and landscaped terraces to the south. Extensive farmyard complex to the southwest having a number of estate and workers’ houses. Located to the west of Castlepollard with main castellated gate lodge castle and a long tree-lined approach avenue to the east.
Tullynally Castle has “a picturesque skyline of turrets, pinnacles, battlements and tall Tudoresque chimneystacks.”
Tullynally Castle, Tullynally, County Westmeath
A magnificent sprawling castle, with a picturesque skyline of turrets, pinnacles, battlements and tall Tudoresque chimneystacks, which has been the home of the Pakenham Family, later Earls of Longford, for over three hundred years. The attention to detail displayed throughout and the quality of the workmanship is outstanding and Tullynally Castle is, without question, a hugely significant structure of national importance. This fine house displays a number of different architectural styles and it is the physical embodiment of the various changes in the tastes and fashions of country house design from the mid-eighteenth through to the mid nineteenth-century. Tullynally Castle was worked on by many of the most important architects operating in Ireland during the early-to-mid nineteenth-century, including such luminaries as Francis Johnston, James Shiel and Sir Richard Morrison. The original construction date of the initial phase of Tullynally Castle is difficult to ascertain and it is possible that the fabric of the original house built by Henry Pakenham, c.1655, is contained within the existing edifice. The present house is maintained to a very high standard and is a hugely important historical and architectural document. It forms the centrepiece of one of the best surviving and most romantic demesnes in Ireland and is now one of the main tourist attractions in Westmeath, following its opening to the public in the 1960s.
The Pakenhams of Tullynally Castle
This exact sentence is on every site; “In 1665 Henry Pakenham, a captain in the Parliamentary Dragoons, was granted land in lieu of pay arrears that included Tullynally.”
The English Civil War was Royalists vs. Parliamentarians. Dragoons were mounted infantry. A dragon was a blunderbuss gun, short enough to handle from horseback. It looks kinda like a sawn-off shotgun. They were called dragons because the earliest versions were decorated with a carved dragon.
Evidently, Henry Pakenham received back-pay in land. He is likely who started building this castle. At this time it was called Pakenham Hall.
The Pakenham family was originally from Suffolk. They were related to Sir Henry Sidney, the Lord Deputy of Ireland and followed him to Ireland around 1575.
Henry Pakenham’s eldest son was Sir Thomas Pakenham. He sat in the Irish House of Commons.
Sir Thomas Pakenham’s grandson was made Thomas Pakenham, 1st Baron Longford in 1756. He represented Longford Borough in the Irish House of Commons. In this case, becoming Baron of Longford was actually related to granted lands. He was eventually given Annalye in County Longford, “including the Holy Island and lands of the O’Ferralls,” the Island and monastery of Inchemore, about half of County Longford including Castles Newton, Lisnovoa, and Monilagan. He later had to give a lot of it back for “compensation of 100 pounds per year and other lands.”
Baron Longford’s fourth son married Louisa Staples, niece of Squire Conolly of Castletown. Their son changed his name from Longford to Conolly when he inherited Castletown.
This part is a little confusing. There had already been an Earl of Longford when the Pakenhams were Barons of Longford. Elizabeth Cuffe was the great-great-niece of Francis Aungier, 1st Earl of Longford. She married Thomas Pakenham, 1st Baron Longford and her son was Edward Michael Pakenham, 2nd Baron Longford.
In 1785 Lady Longford was created Countess of Longford in the Irish peerage. The female equivalent of an earl is a countess. This is called the second creation of the title.
Her son died before Elizabeth Pakenham, 1st Countess of Longford, so her grandson was made Earl of Longford. She counted as the first, so he was the 2nd Earl of Longford.
Thomas Pakenham, 2nd Earl of Longford turned Pakenham Hall into a castle.
Gothic Revival was so in style then. The 2nd Earl added the towers and the other castle bits and even a moat.
He turned Pakenham Hall into the largest castellated house in Ireland.
The Pakenhams that live in the castle now write.
Thomas Pakenham’s Wikipedia entry begins; “Thomas Francis Dermot Pakenham, 8th Earl of Longford (born 14 August 1933), known simply as Thomas Pakenham, is an Anglo-Irish historian and arborist who has written several prize-winning books on the diverse subjects of African history, Victorian and post-Victorian British history, and trees.”
He wrote The Year of Liberty: The History of the Great Irish Rebellion and cowrote Dublin : A Travellers’ Companion along with his wife Valerie.
Thomas Pakenham has written a history of the Boer War and African Colonization.
He founded the Irish Tree Society and has written books about trees, which was made into a television series where he talked about trees
His wife, Valerie Pakenham wrote historical anthologies of Dublin and the Big Houses of the Irish Countryside. Her book Out in the Noonday Sun is about Edwardian colonial life in the tropics, “ivory hunters, missionaries and idealistic younger sons who set out to rule the British Empire’s vast new territories in the early years of the twentieth century.
Their daughter, Eliza Pakenham has written a series based on letters and family archive material.