Thursday, March 10, 2016

Those Places Thursday: The Wonderful Barn, Leixlip, County Kildare

The Wonderful Barn, Leixlip, County Kildare.
Sometimes when you're feeling blue it helps to revisit a place that evokes happy memories. ‘The Wonderful Barn’ is just that kind of place. In Leixlip, County Kildare, it is one of those spots to which my dad cycled with his friends when he had time away from work. When Dad weaved the tales of his cycling days, sometimes the wonderful barn would make an appearance in the stories.

The September day on which I visited had been an extremely frustrating one for me. Earlier in the day I'd had a meeting — associated with my history work — and it was not at all successful. For a few minutes afterward I sat in my car sobbing tears of frustration, then I decided to pack it in and go off in search of the whimsical, wonderful barn.

Much to my dismay when I arrived at the site, the gate was closed, so I could not drive in. As I was contemplating leaving the car at the side of the road and climbing the fence, a lovely gentleman named Seamus, who had been attending his garden allotment on the grounds of the wonderful barn, drove up to the gate. I called to him and told him I dearly wished to visit the wonderful barn. He said he had to lock up after driving out, but instead would let me in while he went to get some petrol. He said he would return in about 30 minutes, so I’d have time for a good visit. I thanked him profusely, scurried back to my car and pulled into the grounds. 

The tower looks a little topsy-turvy, as though it might topple.
Hmm, now just what is inside that opening? Access to the tower is strictly prohibited,
although no doubt a few daring souls have made the trek up those stairs.
My visit was blissful. The clouds seemed like a fluffy confection crossing a sky that was such a beautiful shade of blue.

Although the barn and attached buildings seem quirky and charming to me, no doubt their history is a serious one. The wonderful barn was conceived by Katherine Connolly and built on the edge of the Castletown Estate — site of the famed Connolly's obelisk folly — in 1743 after Bliain an Áir, the famine of 1740-41. It may have been built as a folly; however, architectural historians1 have determined it was more likely a granary which was probably built to provide work for the poor and indigent. The two smaller tower structures on the property may have been constructed for a similar reason, and likely used as pigeon houses or dovecotes.

As I stood there I felt as though I could feel my dad’s presence. When I looked to my right an elderly gentleman came cycling into the garden allotments and tipped his hat to me. I smiled broadly and thought about what it must have been like when my dad and his pals came clattering down the pathway on their bikes. All the negative feelings from the day fell away. I took lots of photos and thought about my dad, as well as the people whose lives had been touched by this marvellous structure.

When Seamus returned we spoke for a few moments, and I thanked him again for his kindness. I drove back to Dublin feeling lighter than air. The photographs I took on that day bring back the feeling of lightness. I hope you enjoy them too.

One of two additional towers on the property which may have been used as a dovecote.
Dilapidated farm buildings with a tower peeking out from behind.
The second short tower is a little more accessible.
One last look as I drive away.
Endnote:

1. Per the Irish Georgian Society and Archiseek Ireland.

©irisheyesjgg2016.

10 comments:

  1. Never seen anything like it before, certainly unique

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bill, thanks for your comments. It certainly is unique. :-)

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete
  2. What an amazing and intriguing building! And for you a font of special memories...how wonderful that Seamus's kindness restored your day to tranquility.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pauleen, thanks very much for your comments. I feel the same way about the wonderful barn, and thinking about my dad made it all the more special. It's just the sort of place my dad loved. I love meeting people like Seamus — restores my faith in the kindness of people.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete
  3. Jenn, A wonderful Wonderful Barn! Thanks for sharing your visit and the history. How nice to have the association with your dad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Charlotte, thanks very much for your comments. I knew you'd like this one. :-) It is very nice to have the association with my dad.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete
  4. Replies
    1. Anna, hello and welcome. Thanks very much for your comment. Glad you like the photos and the story.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete
  5. Wanted to let you know that I mentioned you and this blog posting as a suggested read. On my blog, Sweetteatartlemonsandmemories.blogspot.com

    Angela Rodesky

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Angie, thanks for the mention. It is very much appreciated.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete

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