Acquiring the Estate
Thomas Pakenham & Elizabeth Cuffe
In 1740, Henry Pakenham’s grandson Thomas married a neighbouring heiress, Elizabeth Cuffe, great neice of the last Earl of Longford, and the family fortunes took an upward turn. The Longford title was recreated for Thomas Pakenham and the house was enlarged with another storey. The old formal gardens were swept away as part of the fashion for a romantic “natural” landscape and were replaced by a “wilderness” or a Pleasure Ground planted west of the house leading to a large walled Kitchen Garden and two ornamental lakes.
Maria Edgeworth Reports
The 2nd Earl was also the first to install a central heating system in a private house in Ireland. It was designed for him by his neighbour, Richard Lovell Edgeworth from Edgeworthstown, a gifted inventor.
Edgeworth’s daughter, Maria, reported excitedly in 1813 that: “The house is now so well warmed… that you never have any fear in going from one room to another… and the children play in the hall from morning to night.”
A later letter of Maria Edgeworth’s gives an account of the gardens in the 1830s made by the 2nd Earl’s English wife, Georgiana.
“Lady L may want feeling (Maria had found her rather hard and unfriendly) but taste she has – I never saw in England and Ireland such beautiful gardens and shrubbery walks as she has made – In a place where there was only a swamp and an osiery, she has made the most beautiful American garden my eyes ever beheld – took advantage of a group of superb old chestnut trees, oak and ash for a background – trees that had never been noticed before in that terra incognita and now it is a fairy land.”
– Maria Edgeworth
The Castle Today
Later generations have left the castle much as it was with minor alterations. Parts of the wings now provide comfortable flats for family and long term tenants and an old stable block in the outer courtyard has been converted into a delightful Tearoom opening onto a sunny loggia.
The Pakenham Family
Gardens Open April to September
Just 80 minutes from Dublin by car
Thursday to Sunday:
11am to 5pm
Monday to Wednesday:
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