Monday 19 February 2018

Incredible footage shows eerie aftermath of blaze at one of Ireland's 'most haunted houses'

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

This video shows the eerie aftermath of a fire at one of the country's most treasured historic mansions.

A suspected arson attack which destroyed an historic 18th Century Irish mansion has been described as “a cultural tragedy.”

Massive damage was caused to Vernon Mount House in Cork after a blaze, suspected to be caused by vandals, erupted shortly before 10pm on Sunday night.

At its height, seven units of Cork fire brigade were battling the fire which spread quickly throughout the interior of the property which has been empty for some time.

Brigade units from Macroom and Carrigaline also rushed to Cork to assist city units.

Prophetically, residents feared the structure, ranked as one of the World’s 100 Most Endangered Buildings, was at imminent risk of loss.

The Irish Georgian Society (IGS) placed it on its watch list in 2007 after it expressed concerns it was in “a desperate state of neglect”.

Vernon Mount was built in 1784 and was a protected structure.

The Georgian mansion was built for Cork merchant, Atwell Hayes, who named it after George Washington’s famous Virginia home as a mark of admiration for the American Revolution.

However, far from emulating the scrupulously correct General Washington, the merchant’s son, Sir Henry Browne-Hayes, later abducted a young heiress, Mary Pike, to secure her £20,000 dowry.

Browne-Hayes was eventually arrested and the young woman freed though she was so traumatised she suffered from mental illness for the rest of her life.

The merchant was convicted, sentenced to death but then commuted to transportation to Australia.

Legend has it that the Cork mansion has since been haunted by the spirit of the deranged young woman and it ranks alongside Loftus Hall in Wexford as one of the most haunted structures in the country.

The Irish Georgian Society has described Vernon Mount as “a neoclassical gem” and “an extraordinary suburban villa”.

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