One of the most iconic buildings in Wexford was burned to the ground 100 years ago

The building was one of many stately homes that were burned during a turbulent period in Irish history

Castleboro House was burned 100 years ago.

Castleboro House was a stately landmark on the Wexford landscape

Castleboro House was an imposing building

Enniscorthy Guardian

AMONG the most notable events of the Irish Civil War was the destruction of many fine stately homes that dotted the Irish countryside.

The motives behind their destruction are varied and in some cases related to agrarian disputes or the billeting of Free State soldiers.

In County Wexford at least seven ‘big houses’ fell victim to the conflict in early 1923. These included mansions such as Wilton Castle and Upton house, however what may be considered the largest and finest of them all was at Castleboro.

Situated north of Clonroche village this once fine mansion was completed in 1858 for the first Lord Carew, at a cost of £84,000.

The building formed part of a large demense of over 1,000 acres of land and such was the expanse of this two-storey structure, with a basement, there were 39 windows in the front alone, while the rear of the property contained by a fine ornate garden with a fish pond.

By 1923, Castleboro House had passed onto the third Lord Carew but was unoccupied for the previous three years, with both he and his wife residing in London due to the unsettled political situation in Ireland at the time.

On Monday night, February 5, 1923, Castleboro House was burned to the ground. Newspaper reports stated that shortly before 10 p.m. armed men visited the nearby farmyard where they demanded the keys to the mansion from the farm steward, Robert Richardson.

While some of the intruders kept him and other workmen under guard the remainder gathered hay and paraffin oil from nearby, which was used to set the beautiful mansion ablaze. The residence of the head gardener, a Mr Coppem, was also visited that night by two men who demanded a lamp.

After giving in to the intruders he went outside and ‘ …saw the sky red with the reflection of the flames.’

Despite the best intentions of some to save the building it was too late. Fires had been started in several locations inside by the intruders while a high wind fanned the flames. Most of the furniture inside the building had been sold off previously, at auction, in 1921, however, anything that remained inside became a victim of the fire.

The caretaker’s apartments and three rooms in the west wing were all that remained furnished; the latter in case lord Carew ever decided to visit.

Occasionally, Carew’s agent, George Stopford, would frequent the building. Some of the remaining furniture inside the building also belonged to the caretaker’s wife and an attempt was made to save some of this but it was deemed too risky.

After the flames had setttled, it was described how all that remained of this once fine mansion were the buildings blackened walls.

A claim for £200,000 compensation was later lodged but the beautiful Castleboro House would forever more remain a ruin, which is still visible on the Wexford landscape today.

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