Last Days of a Great House

The next owner of Mountshannon was an Irishman, Thomas Nevins, who had made a large fortune in America and returned to Ireland with his wife and three daughters and purchased the mansion and estate. For the Nevins, who were a decent and honest Catholic family, their years at Mountshannon were fraught with trouble and ill-luck, so much so that people said the curse that many believed was on the place must surely have touched on these unfortunate people.

One of the daughters married a Dublinman named William Doyle but the marriage soon broke up and she returned to her parents at Mountshannon expecting a baby. The baby was stillborn and the unfortunate girl died during the delivery. Her husband, William, could not be found and the girl's father, not wishing to carry out the burial until he could be traced, had her remains and that of her baby placed in a little house which had at one time served as a cold storage building where meat and other perishable foods were kept. Doyle, however, never returned and it was learned later that he had left the country.

Shortly after, poor Tom Nevins - like Lord Clare before him - was thrown from his horse while riding through the estate and died a few months after from his injuries. His body was also placed in the Cooling House, as was his wife's who died some years later - the little building had by then become the family burial chamber. Over the years the vault had been savagely desecrated on many occasions, the lead from the caskets stolen and some of the remains scattered outside the vault. When one of the skulls was found on the roadside near Rich Hill it was decided to brick up the vault entrance permanently. So at last the tragic Nevins family rest undisturbed and entombed in what was once the cold storage house for Mountshannon Mansion.

A Corkman, Dermot O'Hannigan was the last owner of Mountshannon and in 1921, during the War of Independence, in a spectacular and devastating fire, the flames of which could be seen, it is said, from…many parts of Limerick city and county, the beautiful mansion was burned to the ground. The estate was eventually taken over by the Land Commission and divided up into several farm holdings. Little remains of Mountshannon Mansion today but the ivy-clad shell of the great house, its four columns at the entrance still stand defiantly against the elements and even time itself, like some battle-scarred warriors still guarding the faded remnants of a grandeur that is no more.

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