Burleigh House, Castlebar

Burleigh House Castlebar

Burleigh House on Ellison Street in Castlebar, Co. Mayo is dated from 1700 to 1838.  The Building had historic connections to Major General George O ‘Malley Commander of the 2nd Battalion of the 44th Regiment at Waterloo & Commander of the 88th Regiment of the Connaught Rangers.  This townhouse was described as a terraced 4-bay, 3-story building over part basement, on a rectangular plan in a symmetrical plan.  Allotments existed within the building during 1995.  It was disused during 2008.  Burnt during 2010 then restored during 2011.  Details of the building included replaced pitched state roof on collared timber construction with trefoil-perforated crested terracotta perforated ridge tiles with concrete coping to gables.  Rendered chimney stacks to apexes had been corbelled stepped stringcourses below capping that supported terracotta octagonal pots & uPVC goods on rendered stepped eaves.  It was street fronted with wrought iron railings to perimeter.  The classically-detailed doorcase had a radial fanlight that had three quarter – engaged columns on plinths that supported cornice on ‘Patera’-detailed frieze with moulded surround that centred on portrait-detailed keystone framed timber panelled double doors with sidelights below the fanlight.  The rendered, ruled, lined walls above rendered channelled base monolithic plasters to ends also included support to cornice on blind frieze.  A hipped segmental-headed central door was approached by a flight of eight tooled cut-limestone steps.  Bow-ended central entrance hall retained carved timber surrounds to door openings that framed timber panelled doors, an egg & dart detailed timber dado rail & run moulded plasterwork cornice to ceiling.  Square-headed window openings on upper floors had sill courses on ‘cavetto’-detailed consoles with rendered surrounds of monolithic pilasters that supported one-over-one timber sash windows.  On the house’s north side a full-height staircase hall retained carved timber surrounds to door openings that framed timber panelled doors with a cantilevered staircase on an elliptical plan with balusters that supported carved timber banister that also terminated in volute, carved timber surrounds to door openings to landings.  At the west & east of the building reception rooms retained carved timber surrounds to door openings that framed timber surrounds to window openings that also framed timber panelled shutters on panelled risers. [i]

Keith Bourke referenced the building as one of the most iconic or historical buildings in Castlebar Castlebar’s House of History.  It survived a dramatic fire in 2010, a civil war also the great famine period.  It was constructed during 1810.  It underwent a renovation by local owner Seamus Regan.  The building is a listed structure: it is a terraced 4-bay 3-story house over a basement that borrows its style from the classical or Georgian period.  Originally a walled-garden with a brewery was located at the rear.  The first name on the house deeds was the 4th Earl of Lucan.  It later passed through several Influential or prominent owners i. e. the nationalist / proprietor of The Connaught Telegraph James Daly.  During the 1900’s the house transferred from the 5th Earl of Lucan to Thomas Murphy.  He renovated the building; it was believed that there were thirty-seven rooms with a granary store at rear later transformed into a workshop.  In 1922 Michael Collins stayed at that house as he addressed a Pro-Treaty rally in the town.  During the 1920’s it was reported Congested District Board members stayed at the residence.  Several rooms were later rented out & a flower shop was established within basement during 1952.  Dentist Francis O ‘Brien practiced within the building while he lived there with his wife.  Following his demise his wife sold part of the rear to supermarket chain D. H. Burke Ltd.  Seamus Regan with his wife Joan purchased the premises during 1993: they have continued with renovations over time. (Keith Bourke pages 56 /57) [ii]

Burleigh House was an iconic townhouse on Ellison Street in Castlebar that dated from circa 1800’s.  It was one of the largest in the town in the classic & Georgian style of a terraced-four-bay 3-story building over a basement.  The name is believed to refer to the chief advisor to Queen Elizabeth 1 Sir William the 1st Baron Burleigh.  (Sir Richard Bingham (1528-1500) later appointed Lord President of Connaught gathered supportive intelligence on his behalf)  Prior to the great famine of the 1800’s the building was established as ‘Fey’s Hotel’  by Thomas Gildea, Clerk of the Peace of Clooagashel, Ballinrobe.  Due to overcrowding of the Castlebar Workhouse the building became an Auxiliary Workhouse.  Several residents included the following: Major General George O ‘Malley (1780-1843) Commander of the 2nd Battalion of the 44th Regiment at the Battle of Waterloo, Dr. Myles D’ Exter Jordan (1805-1903) Co. Mayo coroner & medical officer of Castlebar Poor Law Union for over forty years, James Daly nationalist & vice-president of the United Irish League.  Under the ownership of Thomas Murphy master carpenter (1876-1952) several meetings were held at rear of premises & on the front steps; he also converted the store to a workshop with an addition of a large house extension. During 1822 the Irish revolutionary Michael Collins spent a night in residence prior to his address in the town.  The Congested District Board members operated from the building during the 1920’s.  In 1947 the building was purchased by Galwegians Francis O ‘Brien with wife Nancy: they provided a dental practice there.  Following his demise his wife sold part of the rear to D. H. Burke supermarket chain.  Present owners are Seamus & Joan Regan who have continued to renovate it over the years. (Alan King ) [iii]

The expansive doorway of Burleigh House on Ellison Street in Castlebar is described on this site as ‘a simple spoked elliptical fantastic fanlight of cobwebs just above visible from the street that is worth mentioning.’  [iv]

The Mayo News  reported on the extensive fire damage to a Castlebar roof with considerable smoke damage at the premises that resulted in the evacuation of five people on 18th May 2010. (Edwin Mc Greal)  [v]

Additional Information

On a Facebook page of Doors of Castlebar  is an article that may be viewed at this site: https://www.facebook.com/ConnaughtTelegraph/posts/doors-of-castlebar-no-4-burleigh-house/10155922555548262/

Johnny Mee referenced Burleigh House in his column Auld Stock  in The Connaught Telegraph 15thJune 2021 as an impressive building with its front door’s fantastic fanlight.  He stated that Frank O ‘Brien had his dental practice there with his dentist wife Nancy Mc Intyre from Westport.


[i] Burleigh House (https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/31209012/burleigh-house-ellison-street-knockacroghery-castlebar-county-mayo)  [Assessed 5th January 2021]

[ii] Western Star Annual 2020 [Assessed 3rd January 2021]

[iii] One of Ireland’s Foremost Buildings (https://www.con-telegraph.ie/2020/11/20/one-of-castlebars-foremost-buildings-a-pre-famine-hotel-has-received-a-facelift/) [Assessed 5th January 2021]

[iv] Fantastic Fanlight (https://www.architectureattheedge.com/fantastic-fanlights) [Assessed 5th January 2021]

[v] Extensive Damage (https://www.mayonews.ie/news/9803-extensive-damage-in-castlebar) Assessed 5th January 2021]


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