The sprawling 30,000 square foot of period property at Woodlawn House encompasses 115 acres of estate, stables, a greenhouse, guesthouse and railway station and is one of the largest restoration projects in Ireland. While the future of this 1760s grand house is sure to be bright, it's the history of the place that really interests us.
Thought of as something of a haunted mansion, Woodlawn House has a very deep and dark history just waiting to be uncovered…
Located about a twenty minute drive north-west of Ballinasloe, Woodlawn House is one of the county’s most imposing buildings - you’ve gotta be standing seriously far away to take it all in! Constructed in the late 18th century by Frederick Trench who was the first to bear the title of Baron Ashtown, the Trenches were considered to be a very prominent family around Galway and would continue to lay claim to the house until the mid-20th century.
A three storey palladian style country house, Woodlawn’s architectural notability and vast estate were the epitome of grandeur. The building was made even more magnificent after its extensive remodelling in 1860 by Frederick’s son, the second Baron Ashtown, upon his marriage to Elizabeth Oliver Gascoigne. It was during this time that the railway station was constructed, paying extra attention to ensuring the line went through the estate.
Words do not do the enormity of this mansion justice, but the fact that there were about 400 windows on the building alone really says something. While the house was passed down within the Trench family for generations, it was eventually sold in 1947 by the fourth Lord Ashtown and it gradually fell into disrepair towards the end of the 20th century. Now just a shadow of its former self, Woodlawn House has developed quite the reputation for being a haunted house.
Derelict and dilapidated, the interior of this building is wholly at odds with its impressive facade. Boarded up windows, barren halls and the echoes of creaking walls and floorboards set the scene for a horror film. Even the thought of the cavernous building is enough to send shivers down your spine! The potential for ghosts to occupy the space becomes all the more believable when you consider the actions of the Trench family in acquiring their wealth of land.
Resentment was fostered among tenants who were thrown out by the Trenches in order to clear the land and a general lack of respect for the family existed at large. Treating their tenants and cattle grazers as slaves, the Trenches continued to disregard the people of Woodlawn until they were essentially run out of town and the original 11,000 acres of land were broken up to accommodate over 200 families and farms.
The disparity between the Lords and house staff can still be seen today through the building’s structure, with the East and West wings being two worlds apart. The Trench family enjoyed large, spacious rooms and well-designed interiors while those who waited on them lived in cramped, confined conditions. According to a 1901 census, there were five family members and fourteen servants living in the house, which just goes to show the inequity of life under the Trench roof.
While restorative measures were taken through the years by volunteers from the Woodlawn Heritage Group and future plans and schemes are in the works, there’s still something very spooky about Woodlawn House. Or maybe we just love a good ghost story!
To find out more about Woodlawn House, click right HERE.
Feature image courtesy | © 091pix
Content Photos courtesy of Lost Buildings of Ireland. This photographer from Monaghan gives you unique views into some of the most majestic old buildings from Ireland and around the world, documenting their travels through history with stunning photography. Follow their Facebook page HERE.