The Rectory, Roscommon

The buildings in this presentation date from the thirteenth century.

They vary in architectural style from the Norman Castle fortress to the austere stone faced Old Jail, and from the grandeur of the Harrison Hall to the simple beauty of the Rectory.


Old Castle, Roscommon

This slightly coloured postcard of the old castle, Roscommon was sold by M. J. Farrell Fancy Goods Depot., Roscommon. The castle was built in 1269 by Robert de Ufford, as a Norman outpost against the powerful Irish chieftain Hugh O'Conor, King of Connaught. It is a keepless fortress, with twin towered gatehouses, a short distance to the west of the town. It was built on low lying land which was at one time a lake. Over a 400 year period it withstood sieges, rebellion and attack, was held by the Irish and re-possessed by the English until in 1691 it was finally destroyed after the Battle of Aughrim. It gradually fell into decay, and although it is effectivly in ruins, the tower on the right of the image contains some interior doorways which are still intact. Some resorative work was carried out in the 1980's and it is now a national monument.

Old Castle, Roscommon -

Roscommon Castle, Ireland

This autumnal view of Roscommon Castle with trees, shows the ivy making inroads into the further destruction of this once magnificant fortress. It was posted in England in 1910. From the script on the reverse, we learn that Kitty (the Sender) was not so nice to know. Having participated in burning an effigy of one Mrs. Langdon for adulterous behaviour, she was then involved in the stoning of her partner in crime. Charming!

Roscommon Castle, Ireland -

Old Jail, Roscommon

This colour tinted photo was taken by John Valentine of the Old Jail, Roscommon. It was built c.1740, and occupies a prominent position in the town centre. The facade is all that is left today, and a modern extension now houses the Stone Court shopping centre. It was possibly designed by Richard Cassels, who also designed Leinster House, Powerscourt House, and Cartron House. It had the distinction of having a lady hangwoman, in the person of "Lady Betty", herself a criminal, who had her sentence withdrawn, on condition that she carried out her gruesome task without pay. The top most arch in the centre of the building, housed the bell that announced exercise periods and mealtimes. Public hangings were reportedly carried out from a timber platform, built outside the fourth storey doorway, on the left hand side of the image. The wrought iron railing outside the main door was still in situ, when the photographer took this shot. The horses with their cartloads of turf, are attended only by a young boy, whilst their masters sup at the inn, perhaps? Having served as a jail for nearly one hundred years, it became a lunatic asylum post 1822 and ten years later it became a lazeretto - a refuge for small pox sufferers. Its use changed yet again to a market house, a private dwelling house for numerous Roscommon families, and finally, a shopping centre in 1999.

Old Jail, Roscommon -

Harrison Hall, Roscommon

This black and white photo postcard, was posted from Roscommon to New York in 1948. It was purchased in Hugh Flynn's store, Main Street, Roscommon. The subject of the card was named for Dr. John Harrison, a well loved medical practitioner, who died in 1890. The horse and cart was still the mode of transport, the road being very rough. The authority of the building is obvious, placed as it is in the centre of the Market Square. This building, originally built as a courthouse in 1750, served the town also as a church in the early 1800's, until the new RC church was built in 1903, in Abbey Street. The parish priest, Fr. Madden who bought it to convert to a church, was responsible for adding the tower and new frontage to the building. It also had uses as a dancehall, opera house and playhouse. It now serves the community as a bank. The memorial surrounded by wrought iron fencing is to the memory of Luke Hayden M.P.

Harrison Hall, Roscommon -

The Courthouse, Roscommon

The Courthouse, Roscommon, built in 1832 for the sum of 8,752.00 was described by Isaac Weld in his Statistical Survey of Roscommon, as follows " a new courthouse upon a very commodiuos plan, has been latterly erected in Roscommon, which was not yet entirely completed in all its parts when I visited the place" The well proportioned front facade and elaborate entrance way are Doric in style, and face toward a large enclosed area common to the courthouse and New Gaol. The cupola and stonework are among the striking features of the building. The coat of arms, over the three bay breakfront is the "Lion and Unicorn". In 1922 hundreds of rounds of ammunition were fired at it, to shouts of "Three Cheers for the Free State"! A major fire caused extensive damage to it and also to sixteen dwelling houses in nearby Abbey Street, in June 1882. The Grand Jury restored it, and the building as it is captured by the photographer at the turn of the 20th century is a blend of the earlier building of the 1830's with the more modern reconstruction of the 1880's. The white building peeping out of the front right is the New Gaol.

The Courthouse, Roscommon -

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