The house was built in the 1830s for Sir Robert Gore-Booth, 4th Baronet MP by London architect Francis Goodwin. In 1876, Sir Robert left the house and surrounding estate to his son, Sir Henry Gore-Booth, 5th Baronet.
The house was the childhood home of Irish revolutionary, Constance Gore-Booth, her sister the poet and suffragist, Eva Gore-Booth, and their siblings, Mabel Gore-Booth, Mordaunt Gore-Booth and Josslyn Gore-Booth. It was also the sometime holiday retreat of the world-renowned poet, William Butler Yeats. He made the house famous with the opening lines of his poem:
The light of evening, Lissadell,
Great windows open to the south,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.
Sale and access dispute
In 2003, the house was put up for sale by the then owner, Sir Josslyn Gore-Booth (a grand-nephew of the original Josslyn Gore-Booth), for €3 million. Despite celebrities including U2 lead singer Bono, broadcaster Gerry Ryan and politician Mary O'Rourke showing an interest in the property, it was hoped that it would be purchased by the state. However, due to several stumbling blocks including Dáil (House of Representatives) holidays and an inaccurate cost report, the house was eventually sold to a private couple, Edward Walsh and Constance Cassidy. Over the course of seven years the new owners, independent of any monetary assistance from the state, restored the house and gardens, and continued public access to the house, while limiting claimed public rights of way.
On a motion put by Councillor Joe Leonard, in December 2008 Sligo County Council voted to preserve public rights of way that it contended existed on the estate. This motion was made without any notice of any kind to the owners. The house's closure was announced on 8 January 2009 due to this dispute with Sligo County Council. The owners instituted legal proceedings against the council to have it declared that there are no dedicated public rights of way over the estate and the council counterclaimed, asserting public rights of ways over the four main avenues. The owners have indicated that they would not be reopening Lissadell if the council won the court action. The 58-day-long hearings ended in June 2010, with legal costs for both sides estimated at €6 million.
- Westlife - Where We Are Tour: 30 July 2010
- Leonard Cohen - Leonard Cohen Tour 2008–2010: 31 July; 1 August 2010
- Yeats, William Butler (2000, originally in "The Winding Stair and other poems", 1933). The collected poems of W. B. Yeats. p. 197. ISBN 1-85326-454-7.
- Irish Times article, Jan 2010
- Owners to close Lissadell House estate. RTÉ News Report - 8 January 2009
- Legal proceedings over Lissadell House, RTÉ News Report - 14 January 2009
- http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/courts/court-rules-in-favour-of-lissadell-owners-in-right-of-way-case-1.1590985 Irish Times online, 11 November 2013
- "Sligo mayor urges talks to end Lissadell House dispute". The Irish Times. 7 July 2009.
- Irish Independent online, 19 June 2010