Following the success of Abandoned Mansions of Ireland, Tarquin Blake documents more forgotten stately homes. These include Elsinore in County Sligo, where William and Jack Butler Yeats spent many childhood summers, and Gortnamona House in County Offaly, built by the 'heir to the principality of Ofelia' in 1803. Auburn House in County Westmeath was named after the 'deserted village' immortalised by the poet Oliver Goldsmith, whose father was a tenant on the estate. The heyday of the Irish country house began in the early 1700s, when most farmland in Ireland was owned by Anglo-Irish Protestant landowners. The land, worked by tenant farmers, fi nanced the increasing opulence of landowners' mansion houses. The Great Famine triggered a change of fortune: starving, penniless tenants could not pay rent and the landowners' fi nances went into decline. Later, the Land Acts transferred land into the ownership of the tenant farmers and, with their rental income removed, many landlords locked up and left. Others frittered away the family fortune trying to maintain a luxurious lifestyle.
During the War of Independence and Irish Civil War, country houses became a target for the Irish Republican Army and many were burned. For the remainder of the twentieth century, the increasing expense of maintenance made these houses unviable and hundreds fell into hopeless dereliction. Beautiful, haunting images of these crumbling ruins accompany the histories of the houses and their occupants to tell again a fascinating story of troubled times and private hardships.
Publisher: The Collins Press