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Secrets and Shadows: Unveiling the Mysteries of Clonyn Castle

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Pen and watercolor painting of Clonyn Castle County Westmeath



In the heart of Ireland, nestled in the enchanting village of Delvin, lies a timeless treasure that has borne witness to centuries of history and intrigue. Clonyn Castle, with its symmetrical Victorian baronial architecture, is more than just a stunning architectural marvel. It's a place where the echoes of the past continue to reverberate in every stone, every corner, and every whispered story.

A Glimpse into History:

Constructed in 1639 for Richard Nugent, the 15th Baron Delvin and the 1st Earl of Westmeath, Clonyn Castle is a masterpiece in limestone. Its construction marked a new chapter in Irish history. As one of the last Victorian baronial castles ever built in Ireland, it's an architectural gem that commands admiration.

But Clonyn Castle's history is not just about bricks and mortar; it's about the people who lived within its walls and the choices they made. In 1649, when Cromwell and his armies marched through the woodlands of Clonyn, the castle was engulfed in flames. Richard Nugent, adamant not to offer hospitality to Cromwell and his men, chose to burn his home to the ground and flee to Galway to avoid any dealings with the notorious commander.

The present-day Clonyn Castle stands as a testament to resilience. Richard Nugent's grandson oversaw its reconstruction in 1680, and it continued to be a residence until 1860 when Lord and Lady Greville Nugent completed extensive renovations.

A Legacy of Nobility:

Clonyn Castle's story took a fascinating turn when Lady Rosa, the only surviving child of George Nugent, the 1st Marquess of Westmeath, inherited it upon her father's passing in 1871. She married Fulke Southwell Greville-Nugent, the 1st Baron Greville, who assumed the additional surname of Nugent by Royal License in 1866.

The castle remained a residence for the Nugent's until 1922 when Patrick Nugent sold it and relocated to Scotland. This marked a turning point in Clonyn Castle's history.

A Shelter in Turbulent Times:

During World War II, in a testament to the castle's enduring humanitarian spirit, Rabbi Solomen Schonfeld sought refuge for the children of Holocaust survivors. A Manchester businessman, Yankel Levy, answered the call and purchased Clonyn Castle and its estate for £30,000. It became a temporary home for up to one hundred children, offering them solace and safety as they rebuilt their lives in England, America, and Israel.

Shortly thereafter, Yankel Levy faced financial difficulties, and the castle was put on the market for sale. The structure remained unoccupied from 1948, the year the last Jewish child left.

From Abandonment to Renovation:

Clonyn Castle's narrative continued with a German entrepreneur who embarked on extensive renovations. The Dillon family later took ownership, and for the past twenty-five years, they have cherished this piece of history as a private residence. Today, the castle and its grounds remain hidden from the public eye.

Whispers in the Woods:

While Clonyn Castle is a testament to history, the whispers of the past extend to the surrounding woodlands. Within the grounds of the former Delvin Golf Club, situated at the back of Clonyn Castle, there's a woodland known as Cottages Hill.

The legend speaks of two ladies who once lived in the cottages, with one meeting a mysterious end, and suspicions pointing at the other. The cottages eventually fell into disrepair and abandonment, but the white lady, as the story goes, still wanders the woodland at night, shrouded in darkness.


Clonyn Castle, with its enigmatic past and the allure of the whispered stories that linger within its walls and the adjacent woodlands, is a testament to the enduring mystique of ancient structures. It stands as a testament to resilience, compassion, and the passage of time, and its secrets continue to captivate and intrigue.