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Ballytarsna – A Castle Reborn

​The castle at Ballytarsna was constructed by Sir William Hackett as a home for his family during the late 15th century. Although titled Ballytarsna Castle, it is one of numerous ‘Tower Houses’ that populate the Irish landscape. The castle remained occupied until the year 1655 when the Hackett family were ousted by the British Parliamentarian forces during the ‘Wars of the Three Kingdoms’. It was during this brutal conflict that the castle fell into disrepair and subsequently, has remained in a derelict condition until modern times.

The extensive restoration process to the castle was undertaken by the current owner ‘John Carignan’ over an arduous eleven-year period which commenced during the late 1990’s. It has taken immeasurable skill, knowledge and dedication by John and his craftspeople to recreate a magnificent piece of historic architecture in a quiet rural setting. The castle is listed as a national monument on the Sites and Monuments Record (SMR).

We were approached by the owners of the castle to design an extensive 340 square meter two storey extension to the rear and side of the castle. The historical records provide evidence that a hall once adjoined the western face of the castle exterior wall. For historical, archaeological, practical and environmental reasons, it was decided to locate the new build in a comparable zone (abutting the great western wall).

The design philosophy centres around the creation of three specific zones (see the attached plan) thus reducing the mass and scale of the overall proposal. The three zones consist of (a) the entrance zone or link (b) hall or living quarters and (c) the utility and bedroom wing. The entrance zone houses a porch, entrance hall, bedroom and en-suite on the ground floor and a lofted lounge area on the first floor.

Specifically, the entrance zone forms a link between the primary physical masses of the castle and the two-storey hall or living quarters. The two-storey hall or living quarters incorporates a living area, dining and seating areas, stairwell and a large bespoke landing. The third zone or side wing incorporates a utility, storage room, bathroom, an entrance hall, stairwell and porch on the ground floor. The caretaker’s accommodation unit is located on the first floor of this side wing.