Featured image for Tullynally Castle

The Hill of The Swan – Tullynally Castle

Also known as Pakenham Hall, Tullynally Castle is a gorgeous country house situated around 2km from Castlepollard on the Coolie village road, County Westmeath, Ireland. The gorgeous Gothic style of the castle has over 120 rooms and has played home to the Pakenham family for over 350 years.

The history of Tullynally Castle

This gorgeous castle is surrounded by twelve stunning acres of parkland and fragrant gardens. The surrounding area is comprised of woodland gardens and walled gardens laid out in the early 19th century. Also featured is a lovely limestone grotto and several ornamental lakes.

Tullynally Castle is a sight to behold and even with its short history, there is so much to know about this delightful castle.

The early history

It all began in 1665 when Henry Pakenham, a captain in the Parliamentary Dragoons was granted the land in lieu of payment arrears. Included in the land he received was Tullynally Castle. It is unknown as to who actually built the castle, it is only known that it was built sometime in the 1650s. Henry’s grandson, a young man named Thomas, was created the 1st Baron Longford in 1756.

Thomas’ grandson, also named Thomas, who, at the time, was 3rd Baron Longford, also inherited the superior title of 2nd Earl of Longford in 1794 from his grandmother. His grandmother was the 1st Countess of Longford.

Wide shot of Tullynally Castle
Tullynally Castle is truly grand. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Remodelling Tullynally Castle

The 2nd Earl remodelled the 17th-century castle in a Gothic Revival architecture style in the very early 19th century. In doing this, he added towers and an elegant moat to the castle. This then made the castle far larger than any other castellate house in all of Ireland. Since then, the house has passed down through successive generations of Pakenham’s.

In 1961, the present owner, Thomas Pakenham inherited the estate on the death of his uncle, the 6th Earl of Longford. To this day, it is the largest house in private hands in Ireland. General Sir Edward Pakenham, GCB, the senior British Army commander was born and raised in the house.

The present day

The current owners of the castle have added many new and exciting features. With a main path to the gorgeous Tullynally Castle gardens and even llamas to visit, the castle is simply amazing. There is also a lovely Forest Walk to the Chinese garden and onto the Lower Lake to see a lovely pair of swans.

You may enjoy reading about other Irish castles such as Portumna Castle.

Tullynally Castle Timeline

  • 1650s- Tullynally Castle is built
  • 1655- Henry Pakenham, a captain in the Parliamentary Dragoons is granted the land in lieu of payment arrears
  • 1756- Henry’s grandson, a young man named Thomas, is created the 1st Baron Longford
  • 1795- Thomas, who, at the time, was 3rd Baron Longford, inherits the superior title of 2nd Earl of Longford
  • Early 19th century- The 2nd Earl remodels the 17th-century castle in a Gothic Revival architecture style
  • 1961- The present owner, Thomas Pakenham inherits the estate on the death of his uncle, the 6th Earl of Longford
gate house to tullynaly castle
Gate to Tullynally Castle. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Tullynally Castle facts

  • The name Tullynally is an adaption of Tulaigh an Eallaigh meaning the Hill of the Swan
  • The castle overlooks Lough Derravaragh, the legendary lake of the Children of Lir who were turned into swans
  • The old formal gardens were swept away as part of the fashion for a romantic natural landscape and were replaced by a wilderness
  • Tullynally Castle has over 120 rooms
  • The castle has played home to the Pakenham family for over 350 years

Featured in TV and film

  • Tullynally Castle (2015)
  • Tullynally Castle (2017)

Books on Tullynally Castle

  • The Company of Trees by Thomas Pakenham (2013)

Who owns Tullynally Castle?

The present owner of the castle is Thomas Pakenham. He inherited the estate in 1961 when his uncle, the 6th Earl of Longford passed away. Thomas, along with his wife Valerie, are both gardening enthusiasts who have spent a lot of time working on the surrounding estate. They both work incredibly hard to keep the castle and grounds in outstanding condition.

Tourism

Due to the fact that the castle is still a private family home, it isn’t open to casual visitors. However, tours of the main rooms can usually be arranged for groups if you contact the owners directly. There are guided tours during Heritage Week that depart daily at 11am, 12pm, and 2pm.

There are also some dates in September. Book in advance on the official website. General admission to the Tullynally Castle gardens is €7.50 for adults, €3.50 for children over 5, and €19 for families. Castle tours are €16. Guided garden tours are available for €12 for adults, €6 for children over 6, and €32 for families. Season tickets are also available.

Nearby, you can visit Fore Abbey, Loughcrew Cairns, Lough Owel, Lough Lene, and Lough Sheelin.

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