Carton House

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Carton House in 2005
Carton House in 2009, with boathouse
Carton House in 1824
Carton House in 1824

Carton House is an historic estate and great house that was the ancestral seat of the Earls of Kildare and Dukes of Leinster. Located 23 km west of Dublin, in Maynooth, County Kildare, the Carton demesne is 1,100 acres (4.5 km²). For two hundred years Carton House estate was the finest example in Ireland of a Georgian-created parkland landscape. In the 2000s much of the estate was redeveloped into two golf courses and the house into a hotel complex.

Carton House is located in Ireland
Carton House
Carton House
Location in Ireland


Beginning of the Carton Demesne[edit]

During a history spanning more than eight centuries, Carton Demesne has seen many changes. The estate first came into the ownership of the FitzGerald family shortly after Maurice FitzGerald played an active role in the capture of Dublin by the Normans in 1170 and was rewarded by being appointed Lord of Maynooth, an area covering townlands which include Carton.

His son became Baron Offaly in 1205 and his descendant John FitzGerald, became Earl of Kildare in 1315. Under the eighth earl, the FitzGerald family reached pre-eminence as the virtual rulers of Ireland between 1477 and 1513.

However, the eighth earl's grandson, the eloquently titled Silken Thomas was executed in 1537, with his five uncles, for leading an uprising against the English. Although the FitzGeralds subsequently regained their land and titles, they did not regain their position at the English Court until the 18th century when Robert, the 19th Earl of Kildare, became a noted statesman.

First house at Carton[edit]

The first record of a house at Carton was in the 17th century when William Talbot, Recorder of Dublin, was given a lease of the lands by the 14th Earl of Kildare and is thought to have built a house. The house and lands were forfeited to the crown in 1691 and in 1703 sold to Major General Richard Ingoldsby, Master General of the Ordnance.

Commencement of the current house[edit]

In 1739, the lease was sold back to the 19th Earl of Kildare, who employed Richard Cassels to build the existing house. This was the same year the FitzGerald family bought Frescati House. Castle (originally Cassels) was also responsible for some other grand Irish houses, including Summerhill House, Westport House, Powerscourt House and in 1745, Leinster House, which he also built for the FitzGeralds.

In 1747, James FitzGerald, 20th Earl of Kildare (from 1766 1st Duke of Leinster), married Lady Emily Lennox, daughter of the Duke of Richmond and great–granddaughter of Charles II. Lady Emily played an important role in the development of the house and estate as it is today. She created the Chinese room (bedroom to Queen Victoria) and decorated the famous Shell Cottage on the estate with shells from around the world. One of Emily's 23 children was the famous Irish Patriot Lord Edward FitzGerald, leader of the 1798 rebellion.

19th century[edit]

Carton remained unaltered until 1815, when the 3rd Duke decided to sell Leinster House to the Royal Dublin Society and make Carton his principal residence. He employed Richard Morrison to enlarge and re-model the house. Morrison replaced the curved colonnades with straight connecting links to obtain additional rooms, including the famous dining room. At this time, the entrance to the house was moved to the north side.

Sale and late history[edit]

Carton remained in the control of the FitzGeralds until the early 1920s when the 7th Duke sold his life interest to a moneylender,[citation needed] Sir Harry Mallaby-Deeley, to pay off gambling debts of £67,500.[1] He was third in line to succeed and so did not think he would ever inherit, but one of his brothers died in the war and another of a brain tumour and so Carton was lost to the FitzGeralds.

It is alleged that, In 1923, a local unit of the IRA went to Carton with the intention of burning it down. However, they were stopped when a member of the FitzGerald family brought a large painting of Lord Edward FitzGerald to the door and pointed out that they would be burning the house of a revered Irish patriot.[citation needed]

During World War 2, Carton House was occupied by the Irish Army who used the building as the headquarters of the 2nd Infantry Division.[2]

In 1949 the house was purchased by Ronald Nall-Cain, 2nd Baron Brocket (1904–1967), a member of the ancient Irish family of O'Cahan,[3] whose principal residence was Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire, England. He bequeathed Carton to his younger son, Hon. David Nall-Cain, who having moved to the Isle of Man, sold the house in 1977[4] to the Mallaghan family, its present owners.

Government decision not to buy the estate[edit]

Since 1977, Carton estate has been the property of the Mallaghan family and in the 1980s and 1990s the Irish government came under public and political pressure to buy the house and its grounds but decided not to do so.

House as film set[edit]

The house was used as a film location by many film-makers and broadcasters.[5] Two of the films made there were Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon in 1975 and The Big Red One in 1980. They starred Ryan O'Neal (as an 18th-century Irish adventurer, with a soundtrack by The Chieftains) and Lee Marvin respectively. The film Leap Year, starring Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, and Adam Scott, shot some scenes at Carton during 2009.[6]

Director Blake Edwards and wife actress, Julie Andrews, lived in the Carton House over the summer and fall of 1969 while filming the movie Darling Lili (1970). Rock Hudson, Andrews costar also lived on the grounds during filming. The actual house was used in the movie in several interior and exterior scenes.

Recently Carton House was used as a prime location for the filming of the Irish drama Love/Hate.

Conversion into a hotel with golf courses[edit]

In 2000, Carton was redeveloped as a "premier golf resort and hotel", an action condemned by heritage groups, including An Taisce, and criticised in Seanad Éireann (the Irish Senate) by Senator David Norris. A hotel was added to the main house, altering it drastically, while the estate's eighteenth-century grounds were converted into two golf courses.

Tyrconnell Tower, Carton Estate.


Tyrconnell Tower[edit]

Allegedly originally built by Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell and intended for his mausoleum. Its official name is The Prospect Tower.[7]

Shell Cottage[edit]

The famous Shell Cottage is a quaint cottage which once had a thatched roof and is decorated outside and inside with seashells. It was built for Emily FitzGerald, Duchess of Leinster[8]



Carton House Golf Club has two courses, one designed by Mark O'Meara and opened in 2002, the other designed by Colin Montgomerie and opened in 2003. The former is a parkland course, utilising the rolling land of the estate as well as the waters of the River Rye, while the latter features head high pot bunkers, "fast-running" greens and narrow fairways.

Carton House was the venue for the European Tour's Nissan Irish Open in 2005 and 2006, having previously hosted the 2004 and 2005 AIB Amateur Open Championship. In 2006, Carton House was the first Irish golf club to be awarded the 'Committed to Green' environmental award by the International Committed to Green Foundation, and the International Association of Golf Tour Operators, European Golf Resort of the Year 2008. The 2013 Irish Open was held on the Montgomerie Course at Carton House (27–30 June). The worthy winner was England's Paul Casey with an outstanding −5 (67) on the final day including an eagle on the last for a total of −14 to win by 3.

Golfing Union of Ireland[edit]

The Golfing Union of Ireland, the longest established golf union in the world, have their national headquarters on the estate. This facility also comprises the GUI National Academy, a 22-acre (89,000 m2) teaching facility for up and coming golfers, as well as being a facility available to all golfers in Ireland.


The IRFU have used the house for training and a team base since 2010


A range of soccer teams come to Carton House for pre-season training. Newcastle United F.C. became the first team to train at the Platinum One group facility. Real Madrid became the second team to go to Carton House in 2009.[9] Shamrock Rovers F.C. also trained there ahead of the 2010 season. Chelsea F.C. and Birmingham City F.C. have trained at the facility.[10] It was visited by the Brazil national team during 2008. In July 2010, Wolverhampton Wanderers held a week-long training camp. During an interview for Irish TV, Wolves manager Mick McCarthy stated that Middlesbrough FC would be there later.[11] In July 2013 Birmingham City F.C. held a week long training camp.[12] In 2016 Newcastle United F.C. spent a week at Carton House during pre season, and returned for another week long stay in pre season 2017. Burnley FC also visited during pre season 2017.


Dublin GAA used Carton House for training during the summer of 2009.


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°23′24″N 6°33′58″W / 53.390°N 6.566°W / 53.390; -6.566