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Honouring a Craftsman of the Past

As our construction team make preparations for the building of our new ballroom and west wing we look back to a key figure in the building of Adare Manor in the 1800s …

In the midst of the many architects and designers who passed through Adare Manor during its construction in the 1800s, one craftsman remained almost from beginning to end. This was James Conolly the master-builder who supervised the construction of the building over a 21 year period. He is commemorated on an inscription on the east front of the Manor as ‘mason and faithful servant of the Earl of Dunraven, and builder of this house from A.D. 1831 till his death A.D. 1852’.

Conolly had a good working relationship with his quarrymen, stone carvers and masons, and the quality of his work was widely admired. He also had a long and fruitful relationship with the 2nd Earl and was paid tribute to by the 3rd Earl in the book ‘Memorials of Adare Manor’;

‘… everything was carried on for twenty-one years solely under the superintendence of that remarkable man who was picked out from among the masons by the sagacious eye of his employer: and well did he justify the confidence reposed in him; not a single mistake having been made, nor a crack or settlement having occurred in the work which he executed. His name is chronicled on the walls of the noble house he built, but none, save those who knew him well, can be aware of what rare qualities he was possessed; how strong an intellect, what refined natural taste, how pure a heart, and what thorough truthfulness of character were combined with a steadiness, a thoughtfulness, and an unflagging zeal for the undertaking to which he devoted his life. Requicscat in pace. May his memory long be honoured, as assuredly it ought, by the possessors of Adare!’

And indeed as the current custodians of Adare Manor we honour the exceptional work of James Conolly and his craftsmen, and we look forward to adding enhancements of our own to the architectural masterpiece that is this grand home.

With excerpts from A Taste of Adare Manor and Memorials of Adare Manor.

Memorial to James Conolly at Adare Manor: ‘In Memory of James Conolly of Adare, mason and faithful servant of the Earl of Dunraven, and builder of this house from A.D. 1831 till his death A.D. 1852’.

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