A magnificent mansion and parkland – with meadows, waterways and woodlands to explore and enjoy.
A visit Castletown House and Parklands is a wonderful experience. The house is the most celebrated and magnificent Palladian style mansion in Ireland. The House was built in the 1720s by William Connolly who was later to become an important political figure in early 18th century Ireland, as Speaker of the Irish House of Commons.
His was Ireland’s first mansion built in the Palladian style – a central house with two pavilions, connected by Ionic colonnades – and Castletown became synonymous with architectural excellence, fine style and lavish entertaining that rivalled the viceregal court in Dublin. His architectural legacy, Castletown was re-invigorated in the mid to late 18th Century by his grandnephew Tom and his wife Lady Louisa Lennox. The extraordinary scale, decoration, plasterwork and collections at Castletown as presented today, continue to bring to life this unique period in Ireland’s history.
The Parkland and River Walks
The wonderful Parkland and River Walks are open every day throughout the year.
The Castletown Demesne
Lady Louisa’s influence at Castletown can be seen not only inside the house, but also in the carefully laid out parkland that surrounds the house. Alterations to the landscape at Castletown began during Katherine Conolly’s stewardship of the estate and included the creation of vistas from the house to the Wonderful Barn and the Conolly Folly in the early 1740.
Influenced by the improvements made by her sister Emily at Carton, Lady Louisa turned to the Castletown parkland south of the house towards the River Liffey and created a designed landscape in the ‘natural’ style championed by Capability Brown. The parkland includes meadows, waterways and woodlands with man-made accents carefully inserted into nature for the walker to discover and enjoy. A classical temple, a gothic lodge, clusters of once rare imported trees dotting wide open spaces, still ponds, cascades and watercourses, all enhance the pleasure of outdoor activities around an extensive network of paths which were restored in 2011–13 by the OPW with support from Fáilte Ireland. In addition to this wonderful amenity for outdoor recreation, the Pleasure Grounds beside the house were restored in 2016, creating a tranquil haven in between the house and eighteenth-century Farmyard. The Farmyard, another landmark owed to Lady Louisa’s indefatigable entrepreneurial spirit, is itself undergoing restoration and is being opened, bit by bit, to visitors.
The Batty Langley Lodge
Gate lodges marked the end of each avenue at Castletown. The most interesting of these lodges is the Batty Langley Lodge which marked the entrance to the estate from the Dublin Road. The present lodge, which was influenced by the published designs of English architect and gardener Batty Langley (1696–1751), was completed in 1785. The gothic façade reflected the contemporary vogue for the gothic in garden design.
In Lady Louisa’s time, the lodge served as a cottage where she could take tea in the summer. The planting of a shrubbery and fruit trees around the lodge reflected her ideal of rustic simplicity.
The Conolly Folly or Obelisk
Visible from the windows in the Long Gallery, the Conolly Folly (or Obelisk) closes the two mile vista at the rear of the house. Designed by the German architect Richard Castle (1695-1751), who was working at nearby Carton for the Earl of Kildare, this singular piece of Irish architecture stands 140 feet tall with a soaring obelisk supported by a series of arches beneath. It was commissioned in 1740 by Katherine Conolly to mark the boundary of the Castletown demesne, but it actually stood on part of the Carton estate. In 1960, then in a ruinous state, it was acquired, thanks to the generosity of Mrs Rose Saul-Zalles, by the recently reconstituted Irish Georgian Society and its restoration was their first major project.
The OPW, who manage property and parklands, are collaborating with a number of organisations to ensure that a wide public audience can share in the future of Castletown. This list is not exhaustive and includes the Castletown Foundation, OPW/ Maynooth University Archive and Research Centre and the UCD Architecture and Landscape Research Unit.
Parklands Open Year Round. House Mid-March to Early November
Open March 16 to November 4
Daily 10:00 – 18:00
Guided Tours only March and October
Guided and Self-guided Tours April to September
Open year round (free of charge)
Closed: November to mid-March
Last admission: last house tour 17:00
Visit duration: approx 2.5 hours
Senior (aged 65+): €5.00/€8.00
Student (with valid ID)/Child: €3.50/€5.00
Child (under 12): Free
Family (2 adults & 3 children): €15.00/€25.00
Free admission to the House on the first Wednesday of every month
Parklands: Free admission
LANGUAGES: Free leaflet available in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Polish and Irish. Audio guide available in English (fee may apply).
DINING / REFRESHMENTS: Courtyard Cafe on-site. Fittingly set in the original 18th Century Kitchen Wing of Castletown.
SHOPPING: Gift shop selling souvenirs, books and gift items.
PARKING: Free car and coach parking on-site.
ACCESSIBILITY: Partially accessible with accessible toilets.
GROUPS: Group rates available (minimum 20 people). Pre-booking required.
Guided Tours only March and October. Guided and Self-guided Tours April to September.
WI-FI: Free Wi-Fi available.
Bus: 67 from Merrion Sq to Main Street Celbridge. Note the house is approx a 10 minute walk from Main Street through the 18th century parklands
Celbridge, Co. Kildare, Ireland
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