I got a short back’n’sides yesterday in Atlas Barbers, a Moroccan barber shop in Kilcolgan. Kilcolgan is in County Galway on the N18 road between the cities of Galway and Limerick.
After the fine cut, I started drifting home south along a minor road. Two miles west of the village, I came across the abandoned beauty of the 18th century Tyrone House.
The occupiers were the St Georges and they owned more than 50,000 acres in the region at one time. Aristocratic kingpins of large parts of south-east Galway when Ireland was under British rule.
The elevated setting is stunning. The house faces south towards the Atlantic Ocean and the limestone hills of the Burren. The rear of the dwelling looks north onto the estuary of the river Kilcolgan.
Tyrone House is three storeys over basement. The basement would have housed the kitchen, store rooms and very basic accommodation for the servants. It was an invariably dark and smoky space and did not enjoy exotic views! Rough vegetation and scrub are now thriving in the basement of the Tyrone ruin. (Image 3).
The I.R.A. burned the house in 1921 during the War of Independence (The house had already been abandoned by the St Georges in 1905). The I.R.A. suspected that Tyrone House was being used by the British military, the Black and Tans.
Some of the St Georges are interred in the St George mausoleum at the nearby St Sourney ecclesiastical site, Drumacoo: A House of Death in the West
The Irish Georgian Society (I.G.S.) is a membership-based organisation which aims to preserve and raise awareness of Ireland’s architectural heritage and decorative arts. Many fine houses have been saved through the excellent work of the society. I.G.S. tried to purchase Tyrone House in the early 1970s but regrettably the purchase did not come about.
The deserted dwelling is so many things. It is a monument to colonialism and inequality; it is compelling evidence of the greatness of 18th century Irish architecture; it is an intrinsic link to the modern history of Ireland…
Long may Tyrone House stand under the Irish skies.
© Text by Tony Kirby / Images by Carsten Krieger