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A romantic steal: The Tipperary castle bought by a man imprisoned for the attempted abduction of his beloved

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The exterior of Killoskehane Castle in Co Tipperary

The exterior of Killoskehane Castle in Co Tipperary

The exterior of Killoskehane Castle in Co Tipperary

Killoskehane Castle

Borrisoleigh, Co Tipperary

Asking price: €1.575m

Agent: Premier Properties (087) 2463748


Having celebrated the smugly matched on Valentine’s Day, let’s now wallow for a while in the sometime sanguine realm of the romantically rejected — those whose hearts are in vain filled with love for one who has dealt them the sharpened elbow.

In this Cupid’s limbo languished Sir John Rutter Carden, a 41-year-old inheritor of estates in Ireland, including Barnane Castle in Templemore. In 1854 he fell head over heels for the Lady Eleanor Louisa Arbuthnot, 23 years his junior.

At first the Clonmel-based Lady Eleanor seemed to welcome his attentions. But after their second chaperoned meet, she let it be known that she didn’t want to see Carden ever again. Successively spurned approaches through Arbuthnot family members finally convinced Sir John that the only path left open in his pursuit of Eleanor’s affections, was that of abduction.

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Sir John Rutter Carden

Sir John Rutter Carden

Sir John Rutter Carden

So Carden hatched a cunning kidnap plan. He bought a yacht, kitted it out with her favourite furnishings and moored it in Galway. He then gathered a squad of Carden estate workers and drilled them in a military style operation designed to nab Lady Eleanor, to spirit her away to his boat and then sail for Scotland; just the two of them. En route and alone together, she would certainly realise what sort of man he really was and therefore agree to marry him.

Simples? Best made plans and all that.

The Carden kidnap crew pounced on Lady Eleanor’s carriage in woodlands. His men slowed the horses and used knives to cut the reins and threaten her driver. At this point Sir John rode up, dismounted and with much aplomb, entered the carriage. There he found Lady Eleanor and her governess.

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A photo purportedly of Eleanor Arbuthnot

A photo purportedly of Eleanor Arbuthnot

A photo purportedly of Eleanor Arbuthnot

But as Sir John attempted to remove his startled beloved, the governess began repeatedly and aggressively punching him in the face, causing blood to spurt everywhere. Carden then seized his assailant by the wrist and pulled her from the carriage before turning back to capture Lady Eleanor.

Carden’s men now mistakenly believed the removed governess was the subject of their mission and without ado, bundled her into the carriage they had nearby to steal their quarry away.

At this point Arbuthnot estate workers arrived on the scene and attacked the Carden kidnap detail. Sir John was struck on the head so hard with a stick, that he staggered dazed, back to the escape carriage and called a retreat.

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A contemporary newspaper illustration of Eleanor rejecting Sir John

A contemporary newspaper illustration of Eleanor rejecting Sir John

A contemporary newspaper illustration of Eleanor rejecting Sir John

A chase ensued over 20 miles with the Arbuthnots and later, also the police, in hot pursuit. It must have been a long road for Sir John, now unexpectedly confined in the getaway cab with the mistakenly abducted grappling governess. A bruised and battered Carden was captured and his trial at Cashel would prove a sensation.

But the public, the press and indeed the jury, were on Carden’s side. Given that Lady Eleanor was not actually removed from her carriage, the charge of abduction was dropped in favour of a reduced two-year sentence for the attempt. It was while in prison that Sir John bought Killoskehane Castle at Borrisoleigh in Co Tipperary.

He might have acquired it to impress Lady Eleanor upon his release (he turned down an offer to commute his term if he pledged to leave her alone) or else he purchased it as a home-from-home to hide from his embarrassment locally.

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A bedroom at Killoskehane Castle

A bedroom at Killoskehane Castle

A bedroom at Killoskehane Castle

Given that he continued to pursue Lady Eleanor to the end of his days (she never married), Sir John is unlikely to have spent much time here.

The original was built in 1600 by Theobald Walter Butler of Ormond. Later Cromwell captured it for his own use. His bedroom includes a secret escape tunnel, still there today.

Owners since have included the Willington family and Edward Downs-Martin, who added to the castle and crafted it to its current form in 1865. He likely bought it from Sir John, who died broken-hearted the following year.

In the late 1970s it was acquired as a near ruin by the Browne family who had the roof and chimney stacks redone and much work carried out. Their guests included the American Broomhall family who then acquired it and lived here for decades.

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A reception room

A reception room

A reception room

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In 2015 Netherlands-based businessman René Mogge and his partner Stephanie bought it quietly and conducted further restoration work. Using local craftsmen they finished five bedrooms and the main receptions. More work is required for additional bedrooms, the castle’s original chapel as well as the gate lodge.

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The grand dining room at Killoskehane Castle

The grand dining room at Killoskehane Castle

The grand dining room at Killoskehane Castle

Now Killoskehane is for sale again through Premier Properties for €1.575m. Located at the foot of the Devil’s Bit Mountain, its showcase is its dramatic timber-panelled grand dining room with elaborately carved period chimney piece adorned with family crests.

There’s a large wood-panelled hall with staircase, a formal drawing room, a kitchen, games room, and assorted ancillary rooms all on the entrance floor.

Upstairs is a gallery, a lounge and four formal bedrooms with three bathrooms. On top, the second floor has five more bedrooms and two bathrooms. There are formal gardens, paddocks, a barbecue area and period outbuildings.

The neo-gothic style gate lodge is also a prospect for letting but requires work. It’s for sale with furniture worth €150k. As a boutique hotel project, this castle is surely a romantic steal?

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