Galtee Castle was originally built as a romantic mountain lodge in the most picturesque scenery near Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, by 'Big George', the 3rd Earl of Kingston - a close friend of King George IV. There had been an earlier lodge on the site which had been constructed in 1785 by his father. Kingston's nearby great baronial house Mitchelstown Castle was started in 1823 and he hoped to entertain the King there during his Irish visit. Nash's pupils, James and George Richard Pain, designed Mitchelstown Castle, and it was demolished in 1925. Galtee Castle, with its tower very much in the Nash 'Claudian' manner, became a focus of the house parties at Mitchelstown Castle and the guests would visit Galtee to explore the wooded mountain scenery. Lady Chatterton in her Rambles in the South of Ireland during the year 1837, London, 1837, vol. II, pp. 15, eloquently describes the beauties of the spot, with a spacious lodge, rooms well furnished, books on the table to be perused by the visitor, luxurious chairs, a flower garden, farm, stables and a pretty cottage completed the scene.
The Galtee estate was sold by the Kingstons in 1852 after the Famine of the Irish Land Company. In 1873 it was bought by one of their directors, Nathaniel Buckley, a Manchester MP and cotton millionaire of Irish extraction, whose son, Abel Buckley, commissioned the present picture. He added a cloak of Gothic detailing and the conical roofs on the tower, which can be seen in the picture. Buckley became a rack-renting landlord and during the land agitation of the 1870s which developed into the Land War he was constantly under police protection. The Buckleys continued at Galtee under more benign circumstances until 1940 when the property was sold, the Castle demolished and the Irish Land Commission took over the estate for afforestation. No traces of it survive today.
We are indebted to Mr. Bill Power whose book White Knights, Dark Earls on the Earls of Kingston and their estate at Mitchelstown, County Cork 1868-1949 will be published by Collins Press, Summer, 2000.