Abandoned Mansions of Ireland II

Tarquin Blake

Regular price €27.99

2012, The Collins Press,                                                                                               Hardback, 348 pages

The heyday of the Irish country house began in the early 1700s, when almost all farmland in Ireland was owned by 5,000 Anglo-Irish Protestant landowners. The land was worked by tenant farmers, whose rents financed the landowners' mansion houses. The Great Famine signalled a change of fortune. Starving, penniless tenants could not pay rent and landowners finances declined. Later, the Land Acts saw farmland placed directly into the ownership of farmers. With rental income removed, many landlords locked up and left. Others frittered away the last of the family fortune to maintain a luxurious lifestyle. During the War of Independence and Civil War, country houses were a target for the Irish Republican Army and many were burnt. For the remainder of the twentieth century the increasing expenses made these houses unviable. Hundreds fell into hopeless dereliction. Policy and public opinion was that the country house was a symbol of English colonialism, entitled to no protection and preferably removed from the Irish landscape.

In Abandoned Mansions of Ireland (Volume 2), Tarquin Blake documents a further forty-seven lost houses. Mesmerising images of crumbling ruins accompanied by the history of the houses and their occupants tell a fascinating story of troubled times and private hardship.