Open to individuals Open only to pre-booked groups (minimum 6) Available as a film location

Kilshannig, Rathcormack, Fermoy, Cork, Ireland

t: +353 25 36124

The House

Kilshannig was built between 1765 and 1766 for Abraham Devonsher, a wealthy Cork burgher, on the summit of a gentle hill about six miles south of Fermoy. His architect was a Sardinian, Davisco de Arcort, known in Ireland as Davis Ducart, whose Irish career began in the 1760s and continued until his death in about 1785. 

Ducart balanced his career as a canal and mining engineer with some of the second half of the eighteenth century’s most innovative Irish houses. He was arguably the most accomplished architect working in Ireland between the death of Richard Cassels and arrival of James Gandon. As a southern European, he remained completely loyal to the Baroque and never ventured into the new neo-Classisical style.

Kilshannig has four formal fronts. The entrance is of rose red brick while the other fronts are of cut sandstone with limestone dressings. The brick facade has a mezzanine floor, segmental headed windows, a fine tripartite stone centerpiece with blind occuli and a round-headed niche on the upper floor. The other fronts have more regular fenestration although they incorporate several unusual details.

This seven-bay block is attached to a pair of square pavilions by straight narrow links, single storied and elaborately arcaded on the garden front. From the pavilions the wings extend back towards the entrance in an L-shape and reconnect to the main block by curved walls to form a pair of enclosed courtyards.

Kilshannig contains a splendid series of rich 18th century rooms with perhaps Ireland’s finest decorative plasterwork, executed by the Lafrancini brothers during their second visit. These have noble proportions, magnificent chimneypieces and joinery, and deeply coved Rococo ceilings. Most notable are the columnar hall, the double height saloon, which occupies the centre of the garden front, and the superb stone spiral staircase.

Mr. Devonsher was childless and left his estate to his nephew, after whom the house changed hands with monotonous regularity, deteriorating continuously with each passing year until Commander Douglas Merry and his wife purchased it in 1960.

At that stage Kilshannig was in a pretty sorry state. The cupolas had disappeared, one wing was ruinous and the whole house badly needed attention. Fortunately Commander Merry possessed a rare combination of engineering know-how and aesthetic sensitivity with considerable DIY skills, and it is entirely due to his efforts that the house survived the twentieth century. 

His son Hugo, a successful bloodstock agent, now lives at Kilshannig with his wife Elaine and their family. They have continued the good work and have recently given the whole house a new roof, reinstated the cupolas and clad them in copper and a great deal of other work. This has all been executed to the highest possible standards, to make the house secure for the next hundred years.   


Open to individuals

Open only to pre-booked groups (minimum 6)

Available as a film location

Opening Hours

September 12-14, 16-17, 19-21, 23-24

10.00 am - 2.00 pm.

Adults €8.00

Concessions €5.00