Castlecoote House, Castlecoote, Co. Roscommon
Castlecoote House is a fortified 17th century strong house, converted and classicised in Georgian times. It overlooks a beautiful stretch of the River Suck, just outside the village of Castlecoote, in the centre of County Roscommon. Surrounded by woodland and in the midst of a pastoral countryside, the mediaeval castle here was granted to Sir Charles Coote in 1616 and the present house was largely built between 1690 and 1720 incorporating parts of a far earlier structure. Recently rescued from the ruin, the comfortable interior now has magnificent marble fireplaces, four-poster beds and views over the garden to the ruins of the castle and the River Suck beyond.
Formerly this was an important fort on the river and was defended from earliest times, so both house and grounds have a fascinating history spanning many centuries. There was a mediaeval castle on the site, which is now largely destroyed, and, more recently, a 17th century strong house was built within its walls. This had flanking towers at the corners, two of which can still be seen at the ends of the façade.
In the 18th century the celebrated Gunning sisters, the daughters of John Gunning and both born in Castlecoote House, were famed for their beauty at the court of King George II. Both succeeded in turning their beauty to advantage, since one married the fabulously wealthy Duke of Hamilton and, after his death, the Duke of Argyll, while the other made a glittering match with the Earl of Coventry. Copies of their portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds hang in the hall.
By the second half of the 20th century Castlecoote House gradually became increasingly ruinous and eventually it was seriously damaged by fire. Luckily, it found a new owner and the whole house was lovingly restored in the late 1990s, given magnificent marble chimneypieces, four-poster beds and luxurious bathrooms.
Guests have a choice of two tennis courts and a croquet lawn in the grounds, and they may fish for trout and coarse fish in the river Suck at the bottom of the garden. They can ride horses and play golf nearby, and there are a number of good looped walks along the Suck Valley Way. Nearby are Roscommon Castle, the King House at Boyle and Strokestown House and Gardens.If they prefer not to venture out, the beautifully landscaped gardens, an orchard of rare apple trees, the towers of the ruined castle and an ice house make Castlecoote House a truly romantic and historic haven.
Castlecoote House is the venue for the annual Percy French Summer School which was first held here in 2009.