Thursday, April 01, 2010

Architectural Anomaly Part 2: Woodlawn House

Woodlawn House, Co Galway. Present Day

One of my most visited sites is Abandoned Ireland. It started as a personal project in June 2008 by Tarquin Blake. Blake, a software engineer and photographer based in Cork, wanted to document and record buildings that have been left to rot and fall into disrepair. They are an important part of our Irish heritage, have some historical, architectural or social importance and yet have been forgotten and neglected.

The site features circa 100 properties: homes, religious institutes, country manors and historical buildings. Blake even managed to gain access to Boland's Mill, an old flour mill building in the inner-city Grand Canal Dock area of Dublin. Boland's was one of the key locations in the 1916 Easter Rising (a defining moment in the struggle for Irish independence) and access is prohibited. Out of all the places featured, my favourite is Woodlawn House in Co Galway.

Woodlawn house: 30,000 Square foot of rapidly deteriorating architectural beauty and standing on 115 acres of land. Featuring 26 bedrooms, a walled garden, courtyard, gatehouse, gardeners house and a lake.

Woodlawn House, Co Galway. Circa 1890

"Built by the first Baron Ashtown, Frederick Trench an Irish politician who died 1st May 1840. The Trench family were of French descent. Frederick was elected to the Irish House of Commons for Portarlington from 1798 to 1800, he also served as the borough’s representative in the United Kindgdom Parliament in 1801. Later in that year he was raised to the Peerage of Ireland as Baron Ashtown, of Moate in County Galway, with remainder to the heirs male of his father Frederick Trench - a ‘Union peerage’, a reward for Trench’s support for the Union between Ireland and Great Britain, which he initially opposed. Lord Ashtown married Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Robinson in 1785. They had no children - Lord Ashtown was succeeded in the barony by his nephew, also a Frederic Ashtown (the second Baron Ashtown)

The second Baron Ashtown, Frederick Mason Trench married twice, first on 29 August 1831 to Harriet Georgiana Cosby, and secondly on 10th February 1852 to Elizabeth Oliver Gascoigne. Lord and Lady Ashtown lived much of the year at Castle Oliver, Co. Limerick, Ireland. Frederick Mason Trench died at Castle Oliver, but is buried in the Trench family mausoleum near Woodlawn.

Woodlawn railway station, built by the second Baron Ashtown, was opened on 1st August 1858, situated on the Intercity line from Galway to Dublin, this railway station was closed for goods traffic on 2 June 1978. The original station building, an imposing structure is still in existence in front of the modern station building.

The second Baron Ashtown had Woodlawn house enlarged in the 1860s by a J.F.Kempster of Ballinasloe. The house was sold to the Le Poer Trenches around 1950 when the then Lord of Ashtown went bankrupt. The house was again sold in 1978 after Derek Le Poer Trench shot himself, in the Arboretum at Lough Cutra Castle."

In an interview with The Sunday Tribune, Blake mentioned "I got an email from a woman in the States". Her grandfather was a servant at Woodlawn House in the '20s – one of the groundsmen. He used to work in the greenhouses. And she was saying that it was a rough time. Pretty grim. Being a servant, having to work long, hard hours." Her grandfather was moved to scratch his own graffiti into a greenhouse windowpane: "Gone to America".

One of the great things about the site is you can take a virtual tour on most of the locations, allowing a closer look at most of the properties . To see more beautiful and not so beautiful structures check out:

All images © AbandonedIreland


nursemyra said...

great website, fabulous photos. thanks for posting the link

Fred Trench said...

Such a shame to see these magnificent buildings going to ruin.

Green of Eye, Sharp of Claw said...

@NurseMyra: Spreading the word! Kudos to Tarquin for putting it together

@Fred: I know,it's heartbreaking to think that we let a part of our past just crumble and rot.Thanks for commenting

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