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Home > New Search > Lyons House (Lyons) (Lyons Demesne) (Castle of the Aylmers), Co. Kildare

Lyons House (Lyons) (Lyons Demesne) (Castle of the Aylmers), Co. Kildare  Ireland 
Lyons Demesne, Celbridge, Hazlehatch, Co. Kildare, Ireland

Circa Date: 1785 w/1802-05 alterations

Status: Fully Extant

Special Info / Location/ Date

Special Info
Phonetic Pronunciation of House Name

District Today
Co. Kildare
 Historic County
 City / Town / Village
Lyons Demesne, Celbridge, Hazlehatch

Start Date
Completion Date
Circa Date
1785 w/1802-05 alterations

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Designed   House for Nicholas Lawless, 1st Lord Cloncurry
Date   1785

Designed   Remodeled House in classical style for 2nd Lord Cloncurry, including replacement of curved sweeps with straight colonnades
Date   1802-05

Extant / Listed / References

Extant Type
Fully Extant
Extant Details

House Listed As 
Gardens Listed As  
Country House:  Yes

Vitruvius Britannicus
Vitruvius Scoticus
J.B. Burke (Burke's Visitation of Seats)
2.S. Vol.I, p.81. 1854.
Country Life
J.P. Neale (Neale's Views of Seats)
2.S. Vol.II. 1825.
Access / Ownership / Seat

Open to Public Please note: Houses listed as being open "By Appointment" are usually country house hotels, B&Bs, or schools.
Historic Houses Association Member
Phone Number If calling from the U.S., delete the first "0" in British numbers.
Fax Number
Europa Nostra and Institut International des Chateaux Historiques joint award for refurbishment, 2001.

Current Ownership
Current Ownership Type
Individual / Family Trust
Primary Current Ownership Use
Private Home
Current Ownership Use / Details

Seat ("Seat" is loosely defined as any family that occupied the house for a period of 2 years or more)
Today Seat of
A Past Seat(s) of
Aylmer family, Norman invation until 1797. Nicholas Lawless, 1st Lord Cloncurry, late 18th century. Valentine Brown Lawless, 2nd Lord Cloncurry, early 19th century; Lawless family here until 1958. Mark Winn, 1958-62. Michael Smurfit, 1990-96. Tony Ryan and sons, 1996-2010.
Possible (Unsure) Seat of
History / Gardens & Park / Movies

Earlier House(s) / Building(s)
Castle of the Aylmers, a 17th century house built for Nicholas Lawless, 1st Lord Cloncurry, was originally on the site of the current house.
House Replaced By
Built / Designed For
House & Family History
Lyons was built to the designs of Oliver Grace in 1797 for Nicholas Lawless, 1st Lord Cloncurry, who purchased the Estate from the Aylmer family, who had owned it since the Norman invasion. Lord Cloncurry was a wool merchant and banker who was created a baronet in 1776 and elevated to the peerage as Baron Cloncurry in 1789. The most famous resident of Lyons was probably Valentine Brown Lawless, son of the 1st Lord Cloncurry and later 2nd Lord Cloncurry, who held advanced political views for his time, the most prominent result of which was his close association with the United Irishmen (who favored ending British rule over Ireland and the founding of an independent Irish republic). His close links with the United Irishmen resulted in Valentine being imprisoned in Jun 1798 and being held in the Tower of London until Mar 1801. After his release from the Tower Lord Cloncurry (his father had died in 1799 and Valentine had inherited the title) employed Richard Morrison to design an extensive remodeling of Lyons (the only major country house of this date to feature bow windows on the main façade), which cost the enormous sum of £200,000 (equivalent to approximately £14.1 million in 2008 inflation-adjusted values using the retail price index). Then Lord Cloncurry embarked on an especially extravagant Grand Tour, buying great quantities of antiquities (including a valuable collection of antique sculpture that was displayed at Lyons; a boat laden with more treasures on its way from Italy to Ireland sunk of the coast of Wicklow in 1804; though some sculpture was later recovered, most of the valuable cargo was lost). Lord Cloncurry settled in Rome, where he leased the Palazzo Accaioli and married Eliza Morgan. In 1804 he purchased four 12-foot granite columns, three of which came from Nero’s Golden House, and one of which came from the Baths of Titus. Lord Cloncurry had these four columns shipped to Ireland, where Morrison incorporated them into the new entrance portico, topped by the family’s coat of arms (in 1810 matching two-story wings were added). It was during his Grand Tour that Lord Cloncurry met Gaspare Gabrielli and brought him (in 1805) to Ireland, where he commissioned him to paint the famous Music Room at Lyons. In 1807 Lord Cloncurry brought a famous lawsuit against Sir John Piers, who had seduced Lady Georgiana Cloncurry for a bet (the seduction had been witnessed by the painter Gabrielli while he was at work at Lyons). The Lyons Estate remained in the Lawless family until the death in 1958 of the Hon. Kathleen Lawless, the last of the family. Kathleen left the Estate to her cousin, Mark Winn, who sold the House in 1962 to University College, Dublin, who used it for decades as a School of Agriculture (the University even installed the entrance gates, which were taken from Browne’s Hill, Co. Carlow). In 1990 University College sold the Estate to Michael Smurfit, who returned Lyons to a private residence. In 1996 Lyons was purchased for 4.4 million euros by Tony Ryan, founder of Ryanair and Guinness Peat Aviation, who reputedly spent 100 million euros restoring the Estate. After Ryan's death in Oct 2007, the 598-acre Lyons Estate was privately listed for sale in Jun 2009 for 80 million euros, reduced to 50 million in May 2010 for a public sale.
Collections This field lists art objects that are currently or were previously in the collection of the house.

For information on the history of British currency, click here.  To use a chart that allows you to compare the purchasing power of money In Great Britain from 1264 to any other year, including the present, click here.  To use a currency conversion to see the current value of the British pound, click here.
A Neoclassical design for a fan by Gaspare Gabrielli (1770-1828), originally at Lyons, was sold at the Christie's sale of some of the contents of Glin Castle, May 7, 2009 for £1,188, against an estimate of £1,000-1,500. The 2nd Lord Cloncurry met Gabrielli during his Grand Tour and, in 1805, brought him to Ireland and commissioned him to paint the famous Music Room at Lyons. Lord Cloncurry also formed at Lyons a large collection of antiquities, including a valuable collection of antique sculpture.

Gardens & Park
Garden, Park, Follies and Outbuildings
The pedimented Entrance Gate, complete with rusticated doorways and recumbent lions, was moved here from Browne's Hill, Co. Carlow by University College, Dublin.
Chapel & Church

Location for Movies / TV

Author   Holmes, Michael
Year Published   1986

Author   Guinness, Desmond and Ryan, William
Year Published   1971
Reference   pg. 19

Author   NA
Year Published   2009
Reference   pg. 100

Author   de Breffny, Brian; ffolliott, Rosemary; Mott, George
Year Published   1975
Reference   pg. 144

Author   Lehane, Brendan
Year Published   2001
Reference   pg. 141

Author   O'Brien, Jacqueline; Guinness, Desmond
Year Published   1992
Reference   pg. 188

There are no documents associated with this house.

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