Castlecoote House Restoration Co Roscommon
Castlecoote House was built c. 1750 as a Palladian House incorporating the ruins of a fortified House destroyed in 1641. It was the birthplace and home of the Gunning sisters who led the Court of George III in the mid 18th century, renowned for their beauty they became the Duchesses of Hamilton, Argyle and Coventry: it was also the home of Gerard Gunning, who won distinction at the Battle of Bunker Hall, the first significant battle of the American war of Independence. The house fell into disuse at the end of the 19th century and was later apportioned by the Land Commission and occupied as a farm house. It was destroyed by fire in 1989.
The house and curtailage were acquired in 1996 by Kevin Finnerty, who undertook its restoration.
A careful salvage from rubble in the basement resulted in the retrieval of parts of the original balcony trim, a limited number of family photographs from previous occupiers and an etching by Gross on the Antiquaries of Ireland from 1799. These informed the reconstruction.
No evidence of the ceilings was extant. It was decided to revert to Adams design for domestic interiors, to inform their design; Elizabeth Gunning’s husband was Adams’ Godfather, and the noble proportions and fenestrations of the original spaces were those within Adams’ contemplation. The building had been generated form the original bastion of aTudor Castle an artillery-resistant structure (i.e. non-rectilinear in plan). Adams designs are based on a strict geometry, and it proved necessary to analyse and re-apply the ceiling geometry to the spaces. Drawings were printed full size to act as templates for the moulding of the plasterwork.
Doors, windows and stairs were reconstructed from fragments; a limited number of photographs, and contemporary comparators.
The works, carried out by local craftsmen under the direction of M Tuohy foreman, achieved a high degree of perfection and reflect the skills from which the original building must have been built.
Projects to reinstate the adjacent bridge and to restore the Ballroom are ongoing.