One of the most intriguing ruins that I have seen in several years is Monksfield, found in the countryside of Galway outside Loughrea. Very little is known about this house and despite days spent pouring over reference material, few facts have presented themselves in relation to the history of this house that is 235 years old. I am writing this post in the hope that others, may know and share more about this history of this unique structure. Also possibly because of its size, its apparent structural stability and the number of surviving details – a restoration could be contemplated. Please note that this house is located on private property and is not accessible to the public.
|Monksfield House in Galway dates from 1788|
The Morgan family acquired the Monksfield estate during the 17th century and were Cromwellian settlers of Welsh origin. Monksfield eventually came into the ownership of the Shawe-Taylor family in the 1850’s after they had acquired an interest in the property from the Morgans. The Shawe Taylor Fmaily owned the nearby Castle Taylor Estate located near Ardrahan. Monksfield was noted as being the seat of the Reverend Henry Morgan when the house being built in 1788. A three storey over basement house, described as having neat offices and a handsome garden with orchard. Architecturally Monksfield bears a similarity in scale and style to Longfield in Co. Tipperary, a house constructed around the same period which is still in use as a private home. Another house that shared architectural similarities with Monksfield is New Park in Co. Kilkenny which burnt down in the 1930’s. It is the central projecting bay and the arrangement of the upper section that is strikingly similar. In my opinion the detailing of the door surround and windows on the central bay of Monksfield indicates the hand of a talented architect.
Longfield House in Co. Tipperary, shown left, and New Park House, which once stood in Kilkenny, shown right, both share several similarities with Monksfield in Galway
In June 1820, the wife of Charles Morgan of Monksfield died and in May 1833, Francis Morgan of Monksfield is recorded as having passed away. In 1837, it is stated that Monksfield is the seat of Captain. Morgan. In June 1854, James P. Byrne, a solicitor, married Minnie, daughter of the late Rev. Henry Morgan of Monksfield. In 1852, the estate at Monksfield appeared for sale as an Incumbered Estate by the Court of Commissioners. The sale included the house and demesne lands extending to nearly 520 acres which the Morgans were obliged to sell due to indebtedness. In July 1852, it is recorded in ‘The Galway Vindicator’ that the lands of Monksfield and the mansion house which cost £3,000 to build were to be sold. The lands of the demesne were offered with the house and a further 159 acres were offered in a second lot. The sale of both lots realised a price of £11,335 and the estate now became the residence of Thomas Shawe-Taylor. At the time of the 1901 census, the house is being lived in by Michael Tarpy and is listed as having fourteen windows in its entrance front. The house is listed as having six outbuildings and is owned by W.S. Taylor. What is interesting to note is that seven people are listed as living in only two rooms of this large house. The household consists of Michael aged 55, who is living in the house with his wife Sara, three daughters, a son, and a servant. Unfortunately, Michael Tarpy, a farmer, late of Monksfield died on the 10th July 1910 and left an estate valued at £56.
|Monksfield House in Galway dates from 1788|
In 1906, it is recorded that Monksfield was owned by Walter Shawe Taylor and was valued at £14.The estate was sold to the tenants around 1908 and its lands divided. The house continued to be occupied well into the twentieth century but is now a ruin surrounded by farmland.
|Monksfield House shown on the 1829 to 1841 Map|
Some information can be gleamed from old maps in the collection of the OSI. On the 1829 to 1841 Map, the house, its outbuildings and walled gardens appear to be in good repair and there is a carriage way leading to the front door. However, by the time of the 1897 to 1913 Map, the carriageway to the front of the house is not illustrated and the outbuildings to the rear no longer have roofs. Is this an indication that the fortunes of the house had changed, and its decline had begun ?. Looking at current aerial photographs, some of the walls belonging to the walled garden have survived together with the remains of some of the outbuildings. Along the main road, a single solitary cut stone gatepost survives indicating the presence of a once grand house. In April 1986, Monksfield House, described as an 18th century ruin appeared on the market with 55 acres.
|Monksfield House shown on the 1897 to 1913 Map|
As I have stated at the beginning of this piece, this is a fascinating house that I would be interested in learning more about, so if you wish to get in touch, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org