Notable Building – Castletown HouseCastletown House was built in Celbridge, Kildare between 1722-29. It was constructed for William Conolly, Speaker of the House of Commons. It was the first mansion built in the palladian style (a central house with two pavilions connected by ionic colonnades). The style originated in Italy with the 16th century architect Andrea Palladio, it came to prominence in England in the early 18th century. The architect of this building is up for debate but the facade made from ardbraccan limestone was said to be designed by Alessandro Galilei (1691-1737). When construction began, Galilei had returned to Italy and it is unclear on whether his plans were followed. Instead, it seems likely that Conolly sought advice from a number of connoisseurs including the philosopher, George Berkeley as well as architect Thomas Burgh. The initial building seems to have been overseen by Irish master builder John Rothery. Edward Lovett Pearce, a leading architect of the early 18th century, arrived after his Grand Tour in Italy. The interior, wings and colonnades were added by Pearce who later designed the Irish House of Parliament. The interior was unfinished at the time of William Conolly’s death in 1729. The ionic colonnades are done in palladian style and the wings were influenced by other great houses such as Russborough in Wicklow. Castletown House had a huge transformation with the arrival of Lady Louisa Conolly, the wife of Tom Conolly (Williams great-nephew). She oversaw the luxurious interior design of the house that survives today. She came to the house in 1759 and went on to spend more than £25,000 over the next 40 years on improvements to the house and demesne. Guided by the designs of leading British architects William Chambers and Isaac Ware, she created one of the most ostentatious houses of the time. She altered the layout of the interior, remodeled the main reception rooms (dining room, the two drawing rooms and the long gallery). She also commissioned the great staircase as well as altering the front facade by lengthening the windows to fit in with contemporary fashion, giving the ground floor equal emphasis. The house has some signature palladian features such as rusticated basements, pedimented portico (a porch leading to an entrance of a building) with columns and a facade flanked by pedimented or sash windows. These examples are typically seen in structures built during the Renaissance in Italy. The Entrance HallUpon entrance into the house, you are met with the entrance hall. This is one of the most opulent areas of the house. Designed by Edward Lovett Pearce, it is one of the finest rooms in the house with a monochrome colour palette. With it being two stories high it gives an impression of the grandeur present throughout the entire house. The walls are decorated in plaster with intricate designs such as children, frames, lions and decorative works filling the area. They were all left in white to give the impression of stone. This work was inspired by the Lafranchini brothers work in the rococo style. The Staircase HallTo the right of the entrance hall is the famous staircase. The staircase, engraved with the words ‘A. King Dublin 1760’ as it was installed by Anthony King. It is one of the largest cantilevered or ‘floating’ staircases in Ireland. The gold balustrade stands out against the other stark shades in the hall. The Dining RoomTo the left of the entrance hall, it is another notable room in the house. Originally this was two smaller rooms but was reconstructed at the direction of Sir William Chambers. It was the style of the 18th century to have a large dining room separate to everything else. Two of the four doors in here are false, this was done to keep the symmetry of the rooms. This is present throughout the house. The mirrors in the room are framed with intricate artwork in the shape of grapes and leaves. They are a symbol of Bacchus, the God of wine. The Print RoomThis is one of the most important rooms in the house. Printing was a hobby of sorts for Lady Louisa, she would collect newspaper prints she liked and paste them onto the walls using flour and water. This was essentially a version of scrapbooking in the 18th century. The prints are done in complete symmetry. The Long GalleryThe far the most magnificent room in the house with its royal blue shade and extravagant decorations. The colour palette of the room is blue, red and gold. This is located on the first floor and is almost 80 by 23 feet. It was said to be the main room in the winter where all the family could use it as one. Men on one end and women on the other, playing cards or other activities. Originally the walls were paneled in stucco work like the entrance hall, there were also four doors. In 1776, this was removed but there are still traces of it left behind the painted canvas panels. This room is decorated in the Pompeian manner by Charles Ruben Riley and Thomas Ryder. Tom and Louisa’s portraits are at either end of the room with Greek philosophers down the length of the room. In the central niche stands a 17th century statue of Diana and above is a semi-circle painting of Aurora, the Goddess of dawn. The three 18th-century Venetian coloured chandeliers are standout pieces, made from Murano glass. These were imported from Venice. There is a diary entry from Lady Louisa that says the chandeliers didn’t match the blue of the room. (a picture taken from an article written when it was built)Castle town is one of the grandest houses in Ireland to this day, it is also a great example of palladianism. It was later rescued by Desmond Guinness in 1967 and restored for public viewing. Desmond set up the Georgian society which helped to save architecture in Ireland.