Flights of Fancy, Offaly Follies and their Demesnes – Rachel McKenna
December 7 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Dec. 7th, 8PM, Offaly History, Bury Quay, Tullamore
Members €2 non members €5
At the Tullamore launch of Flights of Fancy: Follies, Families and Demesnes in Offaly, the author, Rachel
McKenna (Architect, Offaly County Council), will discuss the premise of the book which seeks to describe
and illustrate the built heritage contained within the country house demesnes of county Offaly. It will
look at the remarkable range of follies within the county including towers, eye catchers and gazebos.
From the grotto at Charleville, designed by Hester the 1st Countess of Charleville in the 1740s and
‘built… (in the words of Sir Charles Coote) to give employment to the poor… in a season of scarcity’. To
the first monumental column in Ireland designed by Samuel Chearnley a protégé of Sir Laurence Parsons
of Birr Castle (3rd baronet), and erected in Emmet Square in 1746. It will include the three follies on
adjoining estates in Ballycumber along with Offaly’s oldest remaining folly the classical arch at Gloster
designed by Sir Edward Lovett Pearce around 1730.
The lecture will also cover the families who were responsible for their creation based on memoirs,
diaries and publications, touching on John Warneford Armstrong of Ballycumber House, Rev Franc
Sadleir of Mullagh Hill and Count Louis le Warner de Hamon of Prospect House. It will be illustrated with
contemporary and archive photographs, dwelling on historic maps to gain an understanding of the
landscaped demesnes into which the follies were set.
This collection of follies provides group of architecturally rich demesnes within Offaly while highlighting
the importance of such structures. These structures, sometimes overlooked, provide a vital, tangible link
back to the demesnes and families which created them.