Farm Ireland

Sunday 22 April 2018

Ironic twist puts Lisheen in safe hands

Lisheen Castle was owned for much of its history by the Lloyd family. It was originally a three-storey Irish Palladian country house, to which the owners added castle-like structures in the early 1800s.

The first reference of the Lloyd connection to Lisheen was in the will of John Lloyd in 1770, which mentions that he owned a vast tract of land, including Lisheen and several adjoining townlands.

John's son, Frederick, became landlord of Lisheen and it is believed that it was he who embarked on the building of the present castle, which, according to tradition, was built in stages around the Georgian house.

The castle is a battlemented Tudor-style structure, with side turrets, and a central machicolated turret enclosing the main doorway.

Such castle-like structures in revivalist styles were in vogue during the Victorian era.


Lisheen is described as a more modest version of the impressive castellated residences built in the first half of the 19th century, such as Charleville, near Tullamore, Co Offaly, Castle Bernard, near Kinnity, Co Offaly, Blackrock Castle, Cork, and Glenstal Abbey, Co Limerick.

The Lloyds were heavily involved in the local Public Works Committees that attempted to create employment during the Great Famine. A combination of building costs and the effects of the famine left the Lloyds' estate impoverished, and many members of the family emigrated in the mid-1800s.

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Charles Lloyd took over as landlord of Lisheen between 1856 and 1887, and came into conflict with the Land League when he began to extort high rents and evicted several of his tenants.

One of the prominent local Land Leaguers was a man named Michael Everard, who was evicted by Charles.

Ironically, it would be Everard's great grandson, Michael, who would later buy the vindictive landlord's castle and restore it.

There was an attempt by the local workers to boycott Lisheen, and although it was mostly unsuccessful, they did finally gain fair rents with the Land Act of 1881.


In 1887, Lisheen was left to Charles Edward Lloyd, who emigrated to find his fortune in Australia and never returned. A Thurles agent gained the castle and began to rent it out.

Much of Lisheen's estate was sold off in 1905, although the Lloyds continued to rent the castle and a smaller amount of land until 1918 when William Bray O'Brien, husband of another Lloyd, bought it and he later passed the castle on to his only daughter, who married a John Francis O'Meara.

On 29 June 1921, the castle was burned by local IRA activists, who later claimed that they were worried that British forces would occupy the building. The O'Mearas were later compensated.

In 1960, the Land Commission seized much of the remaining land around Lisheen and divided it up, while the castle itself remained derelict until 1994, when current owners Michael and Joan Everard bought it.

Irish Independent