Tollymore is a demesne in the Mourne Mountains noted for views and plantations since the 18th century. There are many garden buildings and structures by Thomas Wright and others, including the Barbican and Bryansford Gates, an ornamental stable block, a series of ornamental bridges across the River Shimna, a hermitage, a cascade and a series of decorative structures around the demesne boundary known as Lord Limerick's Follies. The house was demolished in 1952. The site has been a Forest Park since 1955.
The estate is first mentioned in 1611 as a property of the Magennis family. In 1685 the estate passed to the Hamilton family by marriage. A house was built on the site by 1730. In 1746-1747 Thomas Wright of Durham, tutor to James Hamilton, Lord Limerick, appears to have designed a number of ornamental buildings, including a new form for the house, intended for Tollymore. These structures were built on a range of sites in the demesne at intervals through the second half of the 18th century, all in Wright's distinctive style. In 1798 the estate passed to Robert Jocelyn, first Earl of Roden, by marriage. The house was twice remodelled in the 19th century. In the mid-20th century the estate was transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture. It became a Forest Park in 1955.
Visitor FacilitiesPublic amenity. This is a Forest Park.
The Bryansford Gate is a Georgian gothick arch with decorative flying buttresses, built of ashlar granite dressed with 'bapstones', a local found material. The spire of the stable block is viewed through the arch, with the Mourne Mountains rising behind.
The Barbican Gate is a roughcast-rendered Georgian gothick gatehouse with the arch flanked by twin round towers decorated with trefoils. A curving avenue of Deodar cedars lines the drive inside the gatehouse.
The stable block is built in stone in the manner of a church, with a spire at one end decorated with bapstones. The adjacent footgate also has a gothick arch decorated with bapstones.
The Limerick Follies along the park perimeter include a pyramid decorated with bapstones on a square stone base 'supported' by flying buttresses; another stone structure with a spire; and a field gate with the local style of low conical gatepier caps replaced by tall conical caps on massive gatepiers with blank arrowloops.
The River Shimna, a shallow stream flowing over shelves of mossy rock through picturesque woodland, is crossed by ornamental bridges including the Ivy Bridge, approached by pairs of square piers capped by rusticated pyramids and Foley's Bridge, a semicircular arch decorated with evenly-spaced hemispherical bapstones. Another crossing of stepping stones marks a cascade drop in level.
A rustic stone Hermitage overlooks the river, and incorporates a simple room with a stone seat.
The Horn Bridge, a stone footbridge decorated with blank trefoils, crosses a stream, above which there is a modern flower garden.
The former kitchen garden has been hard surfaced and is in use as a car park.
Most of the demesne is now covered with mature forestry plantations, and is in use as a Forest Park for public recreation.
- Tree Avenue
- Description: An avenue of Deodars (Cedrus deodara) lines the drive inside the Barbican Gate.
- Description: The Hermitage is a rough stone structure above the River Shimna, incorporating a simple room with a stone bench.
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- Kitchen Garden
- Description: The former kitchen garden at Tollymore is a rectangular space framed by stone walls. It is now surfaced with asphalt and used as a visitor car park.
- Description: There are two ornamental gates at Tollymore. The Bryansford Gate is an ashlar granite gothick arch decorated with bapstones and 'supported' by flying buttresses. The Barbican Gate is a roughcast gothick structure with a pointed arch flanked by a pair of round towers. The towers bear blank trefoils; the spandrels of the arch bear blank crossloops.
- Ornamental Bridge
- Description: There are several ornamental bridges at Tollymore. They include the Ivy Bridge across the Shimna, guarded by four rusticated pyramids on square bases; Foley's Bridge over the Shimna, a semicircular arch of stone decorated with hemispherical bapstones; and the Horn Bridge over a stream, a stone bridge decorated with blank trefoils.
- Stable Block
- Description: The stable block at Tollymore is built of dresed granite in the form of a church, with a spire decorated with bapstones at one end. Next to it is a gateway in the same manner, also decorated with bapstones.
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- Description: Lord Limerick's follies decorate the park wall at intervals. They include a pyramid decorated with bapstones on a square base 'supported' by flying buttresses; a tall spire; and a pair of tall field gatepiers with blank arrowloops, surmounted by tall conical spires.
- Access & Directions
Access Contact DetailsPublic amenity. This is a Forest Park.
DirectionsThree miles north-west of Newcastle off the B180.
The present layout dates from the 18th century, and appears to be the consequence of Thomas Wright of Durham's visit to Dundalk as the tutor of Lord Limerick, the heir to the Tollymore estate, in the winter of 1746-1747.
No convincing documentary evidence exists to demonstrate that Wright designed the house and garden buildings at Tollymore, but they are mostly in his distinctive style. Those which are dated fall within the lifetime of Lord Limerick, later first Earl of Clanbrassil of the second creation.
The Barbican Gate was built in about 1780 and the Bryansford Gate about 1786. Many other estate buildings, including the Limerick Follies along the demesne wall, the stable block, the Horn Bridge, the Ivy Bridge and Foley's Bridge over the Shimna, the Hermitage (1770, in memory of the Marquis of Monthermer) and the walled kitchen garden also date from the second half of the 18th century. 19th-century photographs show a thatched open pavilion with rustic timber columns, again in the manner of Thomas Wright.
In 1798 Lord Clanbrassil died without issue. The estate passed to his sister and thus to her husband, the first Earl of Roden, in whose family it continued.
The estate was noted for the quality of its tree plantations in the late 18th century. This characteristic has continued to the present day.
The house was twice extended and remodelled during the 19th century.
In 1930 part of the estate was transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture. The remainder of the estate was transferred in 1941. In 1955 Tollymore was declared a Forest Park, the first of its kind, with forestry operations kept in balance with public access.
The house was demolished in 1952.
- 18th Century
- Associated People