"Ardrey House was built in 1770 by by Joseph Blake, who later gained the title of Lord Wallscourt. This title became synonymous with the house that has now fallen to ruins. The Wallscourts lived there until the second wife of the fourth Earl frittered away all the family money on gambling. She even sold the lead of every roof on the estate. The mansion was left empty and much of the contents stolen - a grand piano was later rescued from a barber's shop. In 1922 the Walscourt title became extinct, but in 1950 the three granddaughters of the fourth Earl succeeded in legally reclaiming the house and 33 acres of the family estate. These three Blake sisters, known locally as the three gay mice lived in an outhouse close to the ruin. The family coat of arms, rescued from the ruin reads VIRTUS SOLA NOBILITAT, Virtue Alone Enobles.
Ardfry was designed as a two-storey house with nine bays, a central pediment to the front and a raised roofed pavilion at either end. It was renovated in 1826 and updated with some gothic features including a pointed entrance doorway with pinnacles, battlements on the end pavilions and a gothic conservatory with stone piers.
Ardfry (which means The Height of the Heather) has had a colourful past, thanks to many of its eccentric owners, one of whom was known to walk around the house naked carrying a cowbell to forewarn the maids.
At the time of Griffith's Valuation it was being leased by the trustees of Lord Wallscourt's estate to Pierce Joyce when it was valued at £60.
Ardfry House was used in the Paul Newman film, The Mackintosh Man, when the house was re-roofed and re-windowed, and then burnt - destroying many remnants of the internal features.
The lands also contain the ruins of an earlier castle, previously home to the Blakes, one of the 14 `tribes' of Galway.
In September 2001 the property and land was for sale in the region of £1.6 million
The estate was again for sale in 2004, and also in 2006 with planning permission.
An Bord Pleanala granted planning permission for redevelopment of the site - the development can only be used for the purpose of holiday apartments.
Thankfully it appears changes to the original development plans have been made to ensure that the aesthetics of the original building are maintained. Other conditions include having an archaeologist and conservationist on site during the works and liaising with the local authority on materials used in the project.
In August 2008 it appears no work has commenced on the proposed redevelopment of the site."
- Ardfry House, Oranmore
- The Three Beautiful Abandoned Mansions in County Galway
- Abandoned Ireland
- Buildings of Ireland
- Ciaran McHugh
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