Finally, after five years of legal wrangles between the owners of Lissadell House (co-ordinates 54.34690 -8.58050) and Sligo County Council, over legal rights of way within the grounds of the Lissadell estate, Lissadell House once again re-opened to the general public in 2015.
Lissadell House, which is situated about 12 kilometres north-west of Sligo Town, on the southern shore of the Maugherow peninsula in north county Sligo over-looking Drumcliff Bay, is a neo-classical Greek revivalist style country house, which was built between 1830 and 1835, for Sir Robert Gore-Booth, 4th Baronet (1784-1835) by London architect Francis Goodwin.
The house was the childhood home of Irish revolutionary, Constance Gore-Booth, her sister the poet and suffragist, Eva Gore-Booth , and their siblings, Mabel Gore-Booth, Mordaunt Gore-Booth and Josslyn Gore-Booth. The house was also the occasional holiday retreat of the world-renowned Sligo poet, William Butler Yeats.
Lissadell House is a detached, nine-bay two-storey over basement mansion, built of Ballysodare limestone with finely jointed ashlar walling. An entrance front is on the north with a three-bay pedimented central projection, originally open to east and west to form porte-cochere.
The house was once decribed as being “austere in the extreme”, and was in fact the last mansion in this style to be built in Ireland.
The estate, on which the house stands, was formed from land granted in the early 17th century to the Elizabethan soldier Sir Paul Gore for his services to the English crown, during the Nine Years War. The land was confiscated from ecclesiastical lands belonging to the monastery of Drumcliff and the Lords of O Conchobhair Sligigh and the O hAirt chiefs of the territory.
The Gore-Booth‘s were resident landowners, unlike many of their peers (Lord Palmerston at nearby Classiebawn being just one example), who lived on their property, and ploughed money into improvements. The third baronet (Robert Gore Booth) began an improvement and expansion of the Lissadell estate in the late 18th century, and this work was continued by the fourth Baronet (also Robert Gore Booth), when he reached adulthood.
Sir Robert Gore-Booth was noted in O Rourke’s History of Sligo, to be “..a Landlord who must be classed with the best; for he let his lands at their value and never pressed for rent… always allowing his tenants plenty of time to wait for, and sell in, the best market”.
The Lissadell estate was at one time 32,000 acres, but this has over the years diminished to less than 500 acres, the immediate demesne of the present day house.