As Promised i made an action in CS6 to replicate an Instagram filter on these shots. Out of all the sites I have visited over the course of the last year or so, these ruins must be the most hideous and depressing. Jigginstown, or Sigginstown House as it was once known, was one of Kildare’s most prominent ruins and was constructed under the guidance of Thomas Wentworth, the Earl of Stafford and who was also Lord Deputy of Ireland during the reign of Charles I.
Jigginstown House, on the old Newbridge road just outside the town of Naas, made architectural history when it was built in the late 1630s as it was the very first large scale red brick building in Ireland. Wentworth had planned the building with the idea that it could be home to the king on royal visits to Ireland. From 1632 to 1639, Wentworth instituted a harsh rule as Lord Deputy of Ireland. Recalled back to England, he became a leading advisor to the king, attempting to strengthen the royal position against parliament. Stafford was accused of treason by enemies in the House of Commons and never lived to see if indeed he housed a king, as he was sentenced to death after Charles I signed the death warrant and Wentworth was executed before a crowd of about 200,000 on 12 May 1641.
After his death there is still controversy today as to whether Jigginstown was ever really finished however it was described as ‘In a manner finished’ at a cost of £6000..Cromwell in his ‘Excursions through Ireland’ credits the construction to a member of the Allen family – most likely John Allen, who was noted for his taste in architecture. A reasonable explanation for this conflict regarding the constructor of Jigginstown is that Allen was responsible for the planning of the building while Johnson carried them out. The building itself measures 448ft in length and consists of fine vaulted cellars and a number of tall rooms on the ground floor, reached by an outside stairs.
Following news of Strafford’s execution, Ireland rose in rebellion in October 1641. It was at Jigginstown that James Butler, the 1st Duke of Ormonde signed the Cessation with the Confederates in 1643. Ormonde had been working as head of government of Ireland under Stafford and had been treated with great favour. After the Restoration, Ormonde went on to move some of the marble door-cases and chimney-pieces from Jigginstown to Kilkenny Castle or Dunmore House. Jigginstown passed into ownership of the Fitzwilliam family and over many years almost disappeared into the undergrowth.
However the Fitzwilliam’s handed Jigginstown over to the Irish state in the late 1960s and eventually all the undergrowth was cleared away from the structure by a group of volunteers. The house was in danger of deteriorating beyond repair which would have been a great loss to the local heritage. However, a programme of conservation work was carried out by the OPW (office of public works) at the house between 2003 and 2008 which included archaeological excavations, building surveys and some conservation work on the ruin. The work appears to have been suspended since 2008 whilst alledged emergency work was taking place at the Connolly Folly Monument at Castletown House in Celbridge. The next phase of the Jigginstown Project will be the consolidation of the south-west corner which is due to commence as part of the 2012 programme of works. So lets hope that the OPW get their thumb out and finish what they started.