History of Round Wood House also with Eric Burdon

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Georgian Country Home

I think this house has a marvellous doll’s house–like quality, in that it’s not a ‘great house’ but it’s very well-designed and very cleverly laid-out, and it’s got all its original fittings which is quite something.

I think this house has a marvellous doll’s house–like quality, in that it’s not a ‘great house’ but it’s very well-designed and very cleverly laid-out, and it’s got all its original fittings which is quite something.

Hon. Desmond Guinness
Co-founder and former President, the Irish Georgian Society 

Hon. Desmond Guinness
Co-founder and former President, the Irish Georgian Society

The Kennans and The Flynns

Hannah’s parents, Frank and Rosemary Kennan, bought Roundwood in 1983, after it had been rescued by the Irish Georgian Society from the fate of demolition. A decade of restoration by the Society followed, after which Hannah’s parents opened their home to guests and lovingly ran it for 25 years.

Just over a decade ago, Hannah & Paddy took the reins. Paddy Flynn, a musician from Canada, met Hannah in Galway where she was studying Classical Civilization. They decided that a life as live-in hosts in a Georgina Country House was an appealing prospect and so left their city life behind to do just that. They and their two girls, Amelie and Lucie, look forward to welcoming you into their beautiful home.

Early Days

Of course Roundwood’s history goes back much further than 1983 when Hannah’s parents bought it. Built in 1731 for a prosperous Quaker family of cloth makers by the name of Sharp, it retains much of its charm and feel from its early days.

However, stuffy it is not. It is warm and welcoming;  a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of modern living.

Most of its original features remain intact including chimney pieces of Black Kilkenny marble, carved timber architraves to window openings and Rococo plasterwork.

For a more detailed history of Roundwood going back to the 1600s please click here https://theirishaesthete.com/tag/roundwood/

Eric Burdon

The 1970s were a particularly colourful time in Roundwood’s history. Then, under the ownership of the Irish Georgian Society, Roundwood became a party house for a young, upper-class, bohemian set, as did other Irish ramshackle mansions at this time, Many a well known musician passed through the doors then, one of whom was Eric Burdon, lead singer of the Animals.

Eric was invited here by Henrietta (see below) to record his first solo album. Joining him for the adventure was a super-group assembled from the biggest bands of the day. A mobile recording studio was parked in front of the house, bales of hay were strategically stacked in the Main Hall for acoustic dampening, and Darkness Darkness  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darkness_Darkness was born.

Colourful Characters

Some individuals stand out during the 1970s in Roundwood, including Brian Molloy, who abandoned his law degree in favour of working on restoring houses with the Irish Georgian Society. Molloy brought the derelict Roundwood back to life and guests remember his hospitality, with candlelight, bouquets of wild flowers and "music floating out from somewhere".

Also for a time in the 1970s, Roundwood was occupied by an interesting character by the name of Henrietta Moraes  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henrietta_Moraes. During the 1950s and 1960s, she was the muse and inspiration for many artists of the London Soho subculture, including Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon, as well as being a close friend of celebrated singer Marianne Faithfull.

Henrietta was also known for her three marriages and numerous love affairs!

Roundwood House in County Laois is one of Ireland’s finest mid-size houses of the Georgian period…

Roundwood House in County Laois is one of Ireland’s finest mid-size houses of the Georgian period…

Maurice Craig

Classic Irish Houses of the Middle Size, 1976

Maurice Craig

Classic Irish Houses of the Middle Size, 1976