Stradbally Hall sits in splendid isolation on the border of counties Laois and Kildare, just south of the road from Portlaoise to Carlow and beyond the Rock of Dunamase. The hall is surrounded by a tree-studded demesne adjoining Stradbally village, with a circle of hills as a dramatic backdrop. While appearances might suggest that it is a very large classical house of the Victorian period it is actually a substantial enlargement of an important Georgian house, of nine bays on two stories, which can still be identified within the present building.
Sir Francis Cosby, appointed General of the Kern by Mary Tudor, acquired the abbey of Stradbally and was killed at the battle of Glenmalure in 1580. His son and grandson lost control of their estates, and they subsequently lost their lives fighting the O’Mores at Stradbally Bridge.
In 1608 Richard Cosby took revenge, slaughtering the O’Mores near the Rock of Dunamase and securing Stradbally for his family once again. His descendants laid out the town very much as it is today. Their house, built in the 1690s, evolved into a very large structure, with a vast formal layout in the Dutch manner.
The Cosby family produced a succession of admirals, soldiers, politicians, colonial administrators and diplomats. In 1772 the diplomat Dudley Cosby, 1st and last Lord Sydney and Stradbally, began a new house on a ‘healthier’ site but promptly died, so that his successor had to sell 5000 acres to complete the project.
A century later Robert Cosby inherited a fortune, built even more houses in Stradbally village and employed Sir Charles Lanyon, the Belfast architect, to remodel and enlarge the hall in the Italianate style. The North front, with its massive pillared porch, faces a broad swathe of parkland, while the garden front overlooks the terraces and lake at the rear.
The interior is very fine, with a largely unaltered suite of rooms from the 18th century building on the garden front, while the library or ballroom, notable for a ceiling of grisaille panels, is the largest room on the ground floor. Above, at the head of the great oak staircase, is the picture gallery, a splendidly grand apartment, sixty feet long and twenty wide, with a barrel-vaulted ceiling largely of glass.
Stradbally lost a further 9,000 acres in the twentieth century but, in the words of Thomas Cosby who lives their today with his wife Gesa and their family, ‘the estate is blending into the 21st century as best it can’.
Address & ContactStradbally Hall, Stradbally, Laois
t: +353 86 851 9272
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May 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31.
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