Ok thought I would start a thread to answer that "question" about Ardgillan and some history about the place in general.


History of Ardgillan Castle
A Brief history

The demesne consists of the ancient townlands of Kilmainham, Ardgillan and Baltray. The district was originally controlled by the Gaelic O'Casey family and later the Earl of Tyrconnell. However, the period 1600 - 1700 saw great changes in the pattern of land ownership in Ireland due to the confiscation and redistribution of land after the Cromwellian and Williamite wars (1640's and 1680's respectively).

In 1658 the "Down Survey" records that Ardgillan was owned by a wine merchant, Robert Usher of Crumlin, Dublin and by 1737, the property had been acquired by the Reverend Robert Taylor, one of the Headfort Taylors, whose grand-farther had collaborated with Sir William Petty on the mid 17th Century "Down Survey of Ireland". Ardgillan remained the family home of the Taylors (later changed to Taylour) for more two hundred years until 1962 when the estate was sold to Heinrick Pott of Westphalia, Germany. In 1982 Dublin County Council purchased Ardgillan Demesne and it is now managed by Fingal Council.

The Castle

Although referred to as a Castle, the residence at Ardgillan is a large country-style house with castellated embellishments. Originally named "Prospect", the central section was built in 1738 by Robert Taylor, with the west and east wings added in the late 1700's.

Initially the site was heavily wooded, the name Ardgillan being derived from the Irish "Ard Choill" meaning High Wood. It was cleared by out-of-service soldiers and itinerant workers in return for one penny a day, sleeping accommodation and one meal.

The house consists of two storeys over a basement which extends out under the lawns on the southern side of the building. When occupied, the ground and first floors were the living accommodation while the west and east wings were servants quarters and estate offices. The basement was the service floor, the kitchen and stores. The castle has now been restored and the ground floor rooms and kitchens are open to visitors for guided tours. Tea-rooms are located off the main reception area and serving light snacks are open in conjunction with the Castle opening times. Upstairs, the former bedrooms are used for classes and exhibitions including a permanent and unique exhibition of the "Down Survey" colour maps and text. Rooms are also available form small group meetings and workshops.

What is the Griffith Valuation?
From Askaboutireland.com

Griffith ’s Valuation is the name widely given to the Primary Valuation of Ireland, a property tax survey carried out in the mid-nineteenth century under the supervision of Sir Richard Griffith. The survey involved the detailed valuation of every taxable piece of agricultural or built property on the island of Ireland and was published county-by-county between the years 1847 and 1864.

The process of valuation was painstakingly thorough, involving multiple visits by valuation teams to analyse all of the factors influencing the economic status of the property: the chemical and geological properties of the land; average rents paid in the area; distance from the nearest market town. The aim was to get as accurate as possible an estimate of the annual income that each property should produce. This is the “Net Annual Value” figure (in £ s d, pounds sterling, shillings and pence) in the far right column of each valuation record. This was then used as the basis for local taxation, and continued up to the 1970s. The local authorities decided on a percentage of the Annual Value to be paid every year and usually expressed as “pennies to the pound”. For example a rate of 3 pennies to the pound meant that someone in possession of property valued as £10 would have to pay 30 pence, or 2/6.

The individual in economic occupation of the property was responsible for payment of the local taxation based on Griffith’s, with one exception: tenants with a holding valued at less than £5 annually were exempt, but their landlord was liable for the tax. This liability was a powerful incentive for landlords to get rid of smaller tenants in any way they could and certainly contributed to the wave of evictions that took place throughout the second half of the nineteenth century.

First of all most of North Co Dublin falls under the Barony of Balrothery which is sub-divided into the Barony of West and East Balrothery. If you check the post about Baldungan castle and knight templers on the history of rush thread for further reading on the barony.

From Chapters of Ireland
This maritime district, according to the survey and valuation of 1824, comprises 14 parishes subdivided into 174 townlands, and has been assessed to the ancient subsidies as extending over 30,370 arable acres, and 1,699 acres then deemed unprofitable. The [408] parishes there assigned to it are Lusk, Holmpatrick, Baldungan, Balrothery, Balscadden, Naul, Hollywood, Grallagh, Garristown, Ballymadun, Palmerstown, Westpalstown, Ballyboghill, and Dunabate. In this scope are 12 small towns and 16 villages. The surface of the barony is for the most part level, and the soil productive, resting almost entirely on limestone. it is, however, badly supplied with rivers, and its harbours have not been much improved. Being the most remote from the metropolis it is principally used in tillage.

Ok well parishes existed before the Reformation and after.

Civil Parish
A civil parish is an administrative area of civil government in some countries. In general they originate from an ecclesiastical parish of the same name perhaps, in the course of time, to better suit local government, with modified boundaries and, responding to population growth further subdivisions into new civil parishes. Civil parishes are now found in England, Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Sweden, the U.S. state of Louisiana, and a number of island nations in the region of the Caribbean

So if we search the Griffith Valuation for Taylor, Barony of East Balrothery and parish of Balrothery we get the below.

Family Name 1 TAYLOR
Forename 1 AND REV. E.
Prefix HON
Family Name 2 In Fee
Forename 2

Search Link

A map is provided on the link too.

At the end of the day Ardgillan is still in Fingal.

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Ok behind the formal Victorian Walled Garden is a building buried at the edge of woods called the Ice House.

Source: Wikipedia

Ice houses originally invented in Persia were buildings used to store ice throughout the year, prior to the invention of the refrigerator. The most common designs involved underground chambers, usually man-made, which were built close to natural sources of winter ice such as freshwater lakes.

During the winter, ice and snow would be taken into the ice house and packed with insulation, often straw or sawdust. It would remain frozen for many months, often until the following winter, and could be used as a source of ice during summer months. The main application of the ice was the storage of perishable foods, but it could also be used simply to cool drinks, or allow ice-cream and sorbet desserts to be prepared

Ice was often imported into the UK from Scandinavia up until the 1950s. Usually only large manor houses had purpose-built buildings to store ice. Many examples of ice houses exist in the UK some of which have fallen into disrepair. The ice house was introduced to Britain around 1660. British ice houses were commonly brick lined, domed structures, with most of their volume underground. Ice houses varied in design depending on the date and builder, but were mainly conical or rounded at the bottom to hold melted ice. They usually had a drain to take away any water. It is recorded that the idea for ice houses was brought to Britain by travellers who had seen similar arrangements in Italy, where peasants collected ice from the mountains and used it to keep food fresh inside caves

Victorian winters were much harsher than in modern times. From 1600-1875 the global climate is known to have experienced a 'little ice-age'. Historical paintings of winter scenery in this period, depict people skating on lakes and ponds, there are even records of the Thames at Tower Bridge freezing over, such that it could be crossed on foot.

Large country estates, before the advent of refridgeration in the early 1900's, preserved their fish & meat by having a supply of ice all year round. It was stored in highly efficient, underground, domed constructions, covered by tons of insulating earth. Ice was also stored for medical purposes. The availability of ice was essential to cool anyone fighting a high fever, which was not uncommon before the discovery of penicillin. The ice would be chipped out and transported in lead lined cases to wherever it was needed.

Victorian Food Storage

In the days before refrigeration, food was carefully stored in cellars or larders in the cool basement. As food could not be kept for long, a lot of preserving and pickling took place. Fresh fruit and vegetables which would not keep were made into jams and pickles, so that nothing went to waste. Many large houses had their own ice-house, which meant that fresh fish, sorbets, ice-creams and iced puddings could be served up at dinner parties.

At rich houses which were not so well equipped, the ice-man was called upon to bring a large dripping block of ice before a party. The blocks were imported from Norway or America. In 1887, McManus’ on Capel St. in Dublin provided imported blocks for 15s a ton or 18s delivered. However, as ice was expensive, it was not considered practical to store meat in bulk in this way.

Instead bacon was cured, beef and mutton were salted, and fish was smoked, salted or pickled. The traditional way of curing bacon was to rub the pork fat with salt and water. The shelf-life of meat could be extended by curing it dry, by smoking it in the chimney over a wood or peat fire. Meat or fish could also be potted or baked in a pie, which could be kept for several weeks under an airtight sealing of clarified fat. Venison was stored in the game-house, where it might hang for several weeks til ‘gamey’.

The Victorian upper-class ate great quantities of meat and their dinner menus usually included a number of different hot and cold meat courses. While mutton was the main meat enjoyed by the poorer Irish, the rich enjoyed beef, lamb, veal and venison along with poultry and rabbit. Beef was a preserve of the upper classes and was consumed in great quantities. Veal was a little more expensive, but was still a favourite on the dinner table, where the head and brains might be served up as a delicacy.

Cheap mutton and poor veal may have served for ordinary dinners, when the family was not entertaining. Chicken and duck were served as savoury dishes along with pheasant, woodcock, lark and snipe. Meat was roasted on great spits in the kitchen, above large pans which caught the dripping. It was also boiled, broiled or made into pies. Cooked meat was served with rich gravy or sauces such as ramonade sauce (a hot pepper sauce for cold meat or game), sauce Robert (for pork), truffle sauce (for chicken and game) and chestnut sauce (for turkey).

Jugged meat was also popular, with jugged hare or pigeon often gracing the dinner table. The tradition of cooking and serving meat in jugs goes back to the medieval period, when several jugs would be economically placed together in a large cauldron of boiling water. The traditional method was to cook the meat in a tall closed pot without gravy, the natural juices ensuring that it cooked moist and even. By the Victorian period, wine and beef stock might also be added to the jug, with sauce poured over it before serving.

The Victorians had no qualms about eating parts of animals seldom eaten by the Irish today. Mrs Beeton’s book, for example, includes recipes for sheep’s brains with matelot sauce, stuffed bullock’s heart, ox-cheek soup, stewed calf’s ears and fricassee of calf’s feet, to name but a few. The upper-classes were also no strangers to strong-tasting meat - venison, for example, might be hung for several weeks til ‘gamey’ and ‘rescued’ with brine when turning rancid. Ox tongue was one of the few offal dishes eaten by the aristocracy; tripe, for example, was more commonly associated with the lower social classes. Cold tongue was served as a snack or picnic food, while ‘spiced tongue’ was a Christmas favourite, spiced with ginger, cloves, nutmeg and allspice and cooked with onions and carrots.


Fish mentioned on Irish country house menus include salmon, eels, oysters, lobster, cod, haddock and trout. On aristocratic dinner menus, fish was usually a supplement to meat, and was always greatly outnumbered by meat and poultry dishes. In the early period, much of the fish was salted, pickled or smoked for preservation. Salted cod and pickled salmon or oysters feature widely in early menus, along with the ubiquitous kipper. In large houses, vast quantities of herrings were traditionally salted for the winter and stored in barrels in between layers of salt. Smoked eel, one of the oldest foods in Ireland, was also popular. As eels could be kept fresh in barrels for long periods, they feature in numerous Victorian recipes: Mrs Beeton, for example, gives recipes for eel broth, eel pie, eel sauce, as well as jellied, fried and stewed eel dishes.

Imported anchovies were also very popular on the tables of the wealthy, favourite recipes being ‘anchovies and parmesan cheese’, ‘anchovy toast’ and ‘anchovy sauce’. Large quantities of kippers and oysters would also have been bought in. At Abbeyleix, for example, kippers and oysters were regularly bought by the 100, the former serving for breakfast or sometimes marked as ‘for servants’. Oysters generally appear as second courses, sometimes baked in the oven, sometimes marinated. In the 17th and 18th centuries, oysters were very cheap and were eaten by all social classes. They were still inexpensive by 1800, when 100 oysters cost 2s 2d. In the mid-19th century, however, oysters suddenly went from being a staple of the poor to a luxury of the rich, due to overfishing and pollution

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