Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Victorian castle on medieval site draws international interest with €6.5m guide

Tulira Castle
Tulira Castle
Jim O'Brien

Jim O'Brien

Tulira Castle on 250ac at Ardrahan in Co Galway is attracting much international interest. The castle and its outbuildings, along with a gate lodge, stable house, butler's apartment and further staff apartments is renovated to the highest of standards and the entire property comes with a price tag of €6.5m.

Tulira is on a site that was inhabited back to the 12th century. It comprises three main buildings, a medieval tower, courtyard buildings and the Victorian castle.

The original structure, a medieval tower house built by the McHubert Burkes, rests on 12th century foundations. Edward Martyn, founder of the Palestrina Choir and a leading figure in the Irish literary and artistic revival, added a castellated house to the tower in 1882.


Martyn commissioned ecclesiastical architect George Ashlin to design Tulira. It is believed it is the only castle in Ireland that was never overrun, attacked or ransacked and the beautiful Gothic interior attests to this.

According to Charles Irwin of selling agents Ganly Walters, a Dutch executive working for the Mars Company acquired the castle in the mid-1990s. With his wife, he set about a meticulous renovation of the property that included such detail as handmade carpets and engaged medieval experts to advise in the renovation of the tower section.

The castle is approached by an immaculate three-quarter-mile avenue, lined with 95 lime trees and entered through impressive entrance gates brought from Dunsandle House in 1950.

The front facade of the castle is in the Gothic Revival style, while the monumental Great Hall with its 40ft high timber ceiling is the centre piece of the building. The hall features several fine Irish marble columns and a chimney piece designed by Pugin, who famously designed the Palace of Westminster and Maynooth College. The main hall window was first glazed in the year 2000, when the present 12-piece stained glass window was installed based on a design taken from Pugin's work.

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The series of reception rooms includes a drawing room, library and a morning room. The decor in these rooms includes handmade wallpaper to another design by Pugin and original stained glass panels, while the dining room features original wallpaper from the 1880s.

The East wing is home to a fully furnished and equipped kitchen, with an Aga cooker, marble-tiled floor and small Dutch wall tiles of varying colours. The wing also contains a family sitting room, a study, workroom and laundry room.

There are seven bedrooms on the first floor, six of which have private en suite bathrooms. On the second floor of the main castle, an oak stairway leads to a sitting room in the tower.

While the castle was under construction in the 1880s, Edward Martyn decided to make the tower habitable.

The stone spiral staircase leads to the first-floor room with timber floor and ceiling, five panels of stained glass made and signed by Edward Frampton, 1883.


The chapel on the second floor is furnished with an altar and a set of eight oak pews. On the top floor of the castle is the banqueting hall.

The walled garden, which was fully restored in 2006, extends to approximately 2ac featuring a greenhouse, a pergola, as well as herb and vegetable gardens. To the front of the castle is a large ornamental lake built in 1990, while manicured lawns surround the castle.

The estate extends to about 250ac of which approximately 160ac are arable, while 90ac are in mature woodland.

The land was let in recent years and aside from the woodlands, it is all in grass and used for grazing drystock. Farming outbuildings include a haybarn and lean to and a series of renovated stables.

Other outbuildings are converted or are earmarked for apartment accommodation. There are extensive road/ pathways through the woodland and an ornamental summerhouse.

There are also extensive original staff quarters in the courtyard that could be converted to further accommodation if required.

Tulira ranks as one of the finest properties in the country in terms of size, style and finish, according to Charles Irwin.

However, he added that the property is not so imposing as to preclude it's acquisition as a comfortable and manageable family home.

Irish Independent