According to a book entitled “Limerick the Rich Land” by Sean Spellissy, it states that Castle Oliver derived its original name of Otway’s Rock or
castle from the Irish Cloch an Otbhaidhigh after an Anglo-Norman family who settled there soon after the Norman Invasion. This was later
Anglicised to Cloghnotefoy, Cloghanodfoy, Clonodfoy or Cloghnodfoy and a house and estate buildings of that name, Clonodfoy House, was
erected here more than 350 years ago.
Castle-na-Doon, the seat of the Roches until they were ousted by the Fitzharris family was the oldest edifice on this site. Sir Edmund Fitzharris
was the owner of an old house, bawn, stable, orchard and garden here in 1654. This was described in 1655 as a bawn with a crenellated wall
and four turrets with conical roofs at the angle.
The old house was damaged badly by great storms and neglect, and was eventually taken down in or around 1840 and its stone and other
salvage was used in the building of the “new” Castleoliver Castle between 1846 and 1850. The Irish agent for the Gascoigne family James
Galloway lived in one of the Coach House, now known as Baytree house.The agent had overall responsibility for the maintainence of the estate
on behalf of its then absentee landlords. By 1837 the estate consisted of 20,000 acres and reported to be in ruins. It was during these early
years of the 19th century that Clonodfoy House fell into the careless hands of the Oliver steward James Galloway, who is blamed for allowing the
main house to fall into ruin. James Galloways ghost is said to still haunt the demesne. He now is said to make his nocturnal strolls around
“Ladies walk” and between the two gate lodges.The old barn, stables and coach houses are still in existence.They have since been converted
into luxury self catering accommodation and trade under the name of Castleoliver Farm. The walled garden described above is no longer a
garden, but the walls and the six acres contained within are still here.
First of the Oliver family of whom we have any definite record of living at Castle Oliver was Captain
Robert Oliver. Captain Oliver,who was an officer in Cromwell’s army for the reduction of
Ireland in 1649, was granted, by the Act of settlement of 1666,24 town lands in the Barony of
Coshlea,County Limerick, and 19 in the Barony of Clanmorris, County Kerry his task after he
assumed the seat in parliament in 1661 was to establish hisfamily in Clonodfoy House. The
expansion of the power of his family he entrusted to his descendants. In the Earl of Orrery’s “State
Letters” (near the end of Vol. I) are several letters from Captain Oliver and his wife, Bridget, relating
to a plot to overthrow the Government of Charles II, and restore a Puritan regime, with “a sober and
painful ministry,” which was revealed to Mrs. Oliver by one of the conspirators. The date of the Letters is February 1665. In reference to them,
Lord Orrery, in one of his dispatches, speaks of Captain Oliver as “a stout and honest man”.There is still in existence a curiously-worded letter
from Captain Oliver to Sir Richard Aldworth of Newmarket Court, dated 22nd February, 1676, describing a thunderstorm which had partially
wrecked the house at Cloghanodfoy, a few nights before. It mentions that there were about sixty people, including servants, staying there at the
time; amongst others, Lord and Lady Baltimore, Lord Buttevant, and a Mr. Fitzgerald.Obviously the changing tide of affairs in England with the
Catholic King James on thethrone and then the Williamite struggle in Ireland had its effect on the family. Their loyalty was inevitably questioned in
this changing situation and in all probability Charles who inherited from Robert tried to content himself in building up his estate quietly rather than
becoming involved in the politics of the time. However, in 1703, three years before his death, Charles regained the seat in Parliament and so set
the stage for a century of Oliver dominance of the Borough of Kilmallock.By the time of his death the Oliver family were firmly established in
County Limerick and their authority was gradually becoming unquestionable. Charles was succeeded
in the family estate by his son Robert (1671-1738). Robert retained this seat in theelection of 1717. In the election of 1727 he changed his seat to
the Borough of Kilmallock and in the election of 1747 was succeeded by Philip Oliver ( - 1769). Ten years later Silver Oliver joined him on the
second Kilmallock seat. He held this seat until 1768 when Thomas Maunsell and Mr. Wyndham Quinn took it over and Silver Oliver
was elected for County Limerick. He was reelected in June 1776 to the same seat, for the last Time. The last member to be elected to
Parliament was Charles Silver Oliver (1763-1817), for the last time in 1801, after the Act of Union. Modern historians of this period and area of
Irish history like to take the Borough of Kilmallock as an example of how seats in Parliament became the possession of a particular family or of
the political gentry of the time. The real impact of this only comes into force when you consider that members of the Oliver family held a seat in
Parliament for 117 of the 140 years between 1661, when they came to County Limerick and 1801, when the Act of Union came into force.
It is also well to remember that they also held other key positions in the county at the same time. For example, members of the family were High
Sheriffs for the years 1692, 1764, 1791 and 1854. In short, therefore, their influence was the dominant one in the eastern part of the county for a
century and a half. By the end of the eighteenth century the power of the independent country gentlemen of Ireland had reached a very high point.
In most areas of life in their localities their word was law and their power to impose their way almost limitless. Many of their dealings were both
unjust and unacceptable by modern standards. In Kilfinane there is a stone monument containing a carved head. It was put
there in 1998 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the beheading of the highly respected Patrick ‘Staker’ Wallis
(1733-1798).Wallis was a small farmer who joined the United Irishmen and was chosen as commanding officer for the “division
of Moorestwon.” Wallis subscribed to the movement’s objectives that all Irishmen should be free. Wallis’s views began to annoy the
local landlord Captain Charles Silver Oliver, who believed that his life was under threat from the middle-aged farmer.
And so, on a foggy March morning in 1798, Oliver and a troop of Yeomanry rode out from Kilfinane and headed northwards for
Tiermore. Wallis saw them coming and fled into the Red Bog. The yeomanry force included some local men who had been
pressed into service by Oliver because they had good horses. Oliver now ordered these local men to ride after Wallis across the
treacherous surface of the bog.A man named Michael Walsh had the best horse and soon found himself gaining rapidly
on Wallis. Walsh, however, had
no wish to capture the fugitive; at the very first opportunity he jumped his valuable horse into a bog hole and only barely
escaped being sucked down into the mire himself.
It was another local man, Roger Sheehy who finally caught up with Wallis and held him until the remainder of the party arrived
on the scene. Wallis was taken and when he refused to talk, Oliver had him tied to the heels of a cart and flogged up and down
the main street of Kilfinane.
Wallis, still refusing to inform on his friends, was hanged a few days later. He was then beheaded, and his head was set on a
spike above the market house in the square. A monument stands in the Main Street to commemorate his life and death.
In 1776 an English agriculturalist and topographer, Arthur Young, made a tour of Ireland and visited Castle Oliver and its owner, Silver Oliver. His
commentary on the man and the place speaks for itself: “Castle Oliver is a place almost entirely of Mr. Oliver’s creation; from a house surrounded
with cabins and rubbish he has fixed it in a fine lawn, surrounded by a good wood.The park he has improved on an excellent plan. In the park is a
glen, an English mile long, winding in a pleasing manner with much wood hanging on the bank .” Young further remarks: “In the house are several
fine pictures, particularly five pieces by de Ricci, Venus and Aeneas, Apollo and Pan, Venus and Achilles and Phyrrus and Andromocha, by
Lazzerini; and the Rape of Lapithi, by the Centaurs.” Silver Oliver’s death left his eldest son Richard Oliver ( - 1843), a wealthy man.
The Oliver-Gascoignes, as they now called themselves, went to live in England. This change of residence came about when Richard Oliver
inherited the estates of his father-in-law, Sir Thomas Gascoigne at Parlington in Yorkshire in 1812. Richard married an English girl, and through
her, eventually inherited estates and coalmines in Yorkshire. They had four children, two died, leaving Mary ( - 1891) and Elisabeth (1812-1893)
to inherit the Anglo Irish Estates. In 1845 the sisters combined their resources to build the New Castle Oliver,which now stands ¼ mile up the hill
from where their grandfather’s house, Clonodfoy, had stood. Mary and Elisabeth chose the style of Scottish Baronial, a style popularized by
Prince Albert, husband to Queen Victoria. The plans were only a few inches in size, and giving the uses of most of the rooms, are signed by
the architect and dated 24th June 1845. They are in the Manuscript room of the national library in Dublin. The castle is built of red sandstone
which is native to the area and was designed by G. Fowler Jones, an architect from York. The coach houses, stable block and walled garden of
the older house was retained, and still stand today. The main house was demolished and the stone used for the new Castleoliver
house with its massive keep-like tower, steeped gables and battlemented turret. One source states that work commenced in 1846 although
other sources claim a date of 1850.On the hill above the castle is a Gothic “eye catcher”, dating from the days of the earlier house and known as
Oliver’s Folly. This is a small gateway tower which was erected by Silver Oliver during the 18th century. A few years later Elisabeth also married
the cousin of her sister’s Husband Elisabeth’s husband, Frederick Mason Trench, inherited the title from his uncle in 1840 and later became Lord
Ashtown. Both sisters were two very remarkable women. Of great compassion and civic spirit they did their utmost to relieve the distress of
people in the Kilfinnane area during the Great Irish Famine of the years following 1846. It was not only that they spent every penny that they could
get, even selling the collections of many years, sometimes, as it would seem, far below their value, in order to feed the starving people; but they
gave un grudgingly their whole time and labour and thoughts to the same object, and saved many lives. Both sisters were also both highly artistic.
They made a beautiful stained glass window. This was a most important example of its time and quite rare (most of these are only found in
churches or public buildings). It depicted scenes from the life of St. Patrick and was apparently not only designed but executed by both sisters.
Lady Elisabeth Ashtown, as she was known, died on the 23rd February 1893, at the age of 81, having survived her husband by thirteen years.
Having had no children together, Elisabeth left Castle Oliver to her husband’s grandson from his first marriage, the Honorable William Cosby
Trench (1869-1944). From that time onwards the Trench family occupied the Castle. In about 1975 the last descendant of the Trench family left
Castle Oliver, and it fell into further disrepair. The Castle is now undergoing complete restoration by a new owner.
STORY OF CASTLEOLIVER FARM
The Old Barn
|Welcome to Castleoliver Farm
Luxury Cottages Ireland
Cork Limerick Border