Call for move on Connolly Folly fence

John Barrett's atmospheric shot of Connolly's Folly

John Barrett's atmospheric shot of Connolly's Folly

A FENCE which surrounds one of Kildare most famous historical monument can only be a short term solution, one of the country’s leading conservationists has said.

Writing in the newsletter of the Irish Georgian Society, which is dedicated to conserving Ireland’s architectural heritage, Desmond Guinness said that “sadly” Connolly’s Folly, which lies between Celbridge and Maynooth, is encircled by a tall security fence to prevent vandals damaging its structure or polluters dumping rubbish in the vicinity.

He said that while there may be good reasons for this barrier, “it can only be a short term solution for problems which need to be resolved as soon as possible,” so that the wonderful 18th century structure can be admired by today’s visitors in the same way previous generations did so.

Visible from the Long Gallery of Castletown House, the Folly or Obelisk, was designed by the German architect, Richard Castle (1695-1751), who was working at nearby Carton at the time.

The 140 feet structure was built in 1740 at the request of Katherine Connolly.

The project led to Ms. Connolly’s sister, Mary Jones, wondering in march 1740, how the £300 or £400 costs “at least” was affordable. “ really wonder how she can dow so much and live as she duse,” wrote Ms. Jones in a document of the time.

Connolly built it to provide employment for the starving during the severe winter and the famine of 1739-40. It was intended to mark the boundary of Castletown estate but actually stood on Carton.

By 1962, he was in ruins and acquired by the IGS with the financial aid of Washington DC woman, Rose Saul Zalles.

Belfast steeplejacks, J Rainey and Co and Naas stonemason, Mr. Cullen, were involved in restoration, permission for which had been given by Lord Brocket, who bought Carton in 1949.

His son, David Nall- Cain sold the Folly and its “island” of five acres to the IGS for £1,000, paid for by Ms. Zalles.

In 1980, the IGS gave the Folly into the care of the Castletown Foundation and is now belongs to Castletown House from which it came.

For Desmond Guinness the Folly has a personal interest. In 1989, her former wife, Mariga von Urach died. Like Richard Castle, she too was German, coming from Stuttgart. “It was fitting,” he wrote, “that she was buried and commemorated beneath the western arch of the Folly, one of the many extraordinary Georgian structures whose preservation she championed.”

He told the Leader this week: “This horrible fence spoils the whole look of it.”

- Henry Bauress




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