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Big House burnings 1923


“Supported by the Department of Tourism,  Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 initiative.”

In this podcast, author and historian Eoin Swithin Walsh recounts the burning of several 'Big Houses in Kilkenny during the Civil War in the Spring of 1923.

'The spring of 1923 witnessed a plethora of ‘big house’ burnings in Ireland. County Kilkenny did not escape. In retaliation for Lady Desart, Ellen Cuffe, taking her seat in the new Free State Senate, the Cuffe seat of Desart Court was burnt on 22 February 1923. The following night the home of the Ponsonby’s, Bessborough House in Piltown (now Kildalton College), was destroyed. In this podcast find out the full story of why these houses were destroyed, who actually owned them, how it affected the local community, and the compensation paid out as result.'

Big-House-Burnings-in-Kilkenny-Desart-and-Bessborough.mp3 (size 23.7 MB)

Desart Court                                                                                               Bessborough House

 Desart-Court-before-it-was-destroyed                        Bessborough-House-Piltown---cir-1905 

Lady Ellen Desart with her late husband, the 4th Earl of Desart


Hamilton Cuffe, 5th Earl of Desart                   Vere Ponsonby, 9th Earl of Bessborough

  Hamilton-Cuffe---5th-Earl-of-Desart            Vere-Ponsonby---9th-Earl-of-Bessboragh-who-owned-the-House-when-it-was-burnt-down-in-Feb-1923