In order to understand the interest—from a Georgian point of view—of the document that follows, it is necessary to know a little about the house and its inhabitants throughout the century preceding the sale. John Fitzgibbon, first Earl of Clare, bought this extensive property in the last quarter of the 18th century. An extremely successful barrister, like his father before him, he played a most prominent part in Henry Grattan’s Ireland, personal friends in the early days of the Patriot party, political enemies when Clare, as Chancellor and virtual dictator of Ireland, saw no alternative to his country’s miseries save the Act of Union of 1800.This abolished his own office, and two years later he was dead, perhaps of exhaustion, perhaps of heartbreak. He had, as an ex-Chancellor, been given a handsome pension, a two-life pension so that the 2nd Earl, his elder son was also well provided for by the United Kingdom Exchequer. Meanwhile the 1st Earl, in his lifetime had fully furnished Mount Shannon, which he also enlarged, afforested and planted until it became virtually a self-supporting village, a community that grew its own food and ultimately, even had its own gas plant. It may be assumed that most of the furniture and furnishings here listed were his.

The 2nd Earl. Who died in 1851, was a close friend of Byron’s. It was of him that Byron wrote the poem “Friend of my Youth” and “When we were Harrow boys together”. He, too, was in public service, being Governor of Bombay and later Bengal in the years before the Mutiny. From him date the Oriental acquisitions here listed, and many of the paintings, for he travelled extensively in Europe too. His brief marriage produced no children, and the title passed to his brother. It was the 2nd Earl who added the portico of columns to Mount Shannon, and the picture reproduced is the architect Lewis Wyatt’a watercolour made in 1813, showing what he proposed to build. The ruin standing to this day shows that this is precisely what he did in fact build.

The 3rd Earl, Richard Hobart, inherited but had no pension. In 1851 the effects of the Famine were at their very worst. We have some evidence of his endeavours as Lord Lieutenant of Limerick intervening with the authorities for help to his starving county and later, of his helping financially those who wished to emigrate. He had been a professional soldier: there is little evidence that he was capable of dealing with the appalling conditions that then confronted the owner of a large Irish estate.  The death of his only son and heir, in the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava, 1854, must have further embittered him. It is unlikely that he bought much for Mount Shannon, even had he needed to do so for a luxuriously furnished house. He died in 1880, that is to say a mere eight years before this sale.

His will would seem to have been a disaster. Of his three daughters, the two eldest became his co-heiresses. Louisa had married a younger son of the 16th Viscount Dillon, who took her name since she inherited the property. Her sister, Lady Florence, married the Baron Kimberley, who became the first Earl of that title. She inherited not only the Fitzgibbon silver—it will be noted that there is none in this catalogue, —but it also seems the greater part of the liquidity attached to the estate, or what remained thereof.

What followed, and so rapidly, is obvious. The Land War was raging: there were no rents. The trees were cut down for cash. Many pictures must have been sold. The property was mortgaged and then money was borrowed at a very high rate of interest. Very soon the forced sale took place, apparently the first of its size in Ireland. This is what was sold, or at least put up for sale, for fragments remained, but only fragments. And what was sold were, with exceptions such as the modern bathroom, essentially the contents of a large Georgian country house.

Mount Shannon contained a fully furnished Oratory.

A photostat of the sale Catalogue can be obtained on loan from the Irish Georgian Society; it gives a complete picture of the furnishings of an eighteenth century house. There follow two short excerpts:

“The furnishing of Mount Shannon, was commenced about one hundred years since at a time when design, material, and finish was a point of excellence never since excelled, insomuch that art productions of that date have remained the governing style to the present time. Many of these early effects are included in the present sale.

The Indian Items were brought home by John Fitzgibbon, 2nd Earl of Clare, some time Governor of the Bengal Presidency, and it may be accepted that the Japanese and Lacquered Wardrobes, Ivory and Pearl work, with all the very fine old Oriental China, in great variety, Josses, &c., have been in Mount-Shannon ever since. In addition there are some very fine old Buhl, Marquetrie, Pacquetrie Cabinets, Armoires, Tables, Secretaires, a clock of the Louis Quatorze period, Bronze Figures a cheval, large Oriental China Vases, Marble and Seagliola pedestals, with some Statuary Busts of the family, also rarely Carved Vases of White Marble.

The Drawing and Morning Rooms Furniture is mostly Louis Quartoze carved, gilt and covered, ensuite with draperies, in light green figured Satin. The Carpets through the House are mainly Turkey of large size. The  Library and Dining Rooms effects, are covered in green morocco, the Curtains red figured Satin, and heavy corded Crimson Silk.

The Ceiling Lustres are mostly parcel gilt; rarely chased and of beautiful workmanship.

The Family Paintings are Chef Douvres, by the first artist of the period, when they were taken, some of the Paintings, were placed in the house about 1790, and will afford the connoisseur and speculator a good chance of getting a valuable Old Master on good terms. There are also some replicas from the Dresden gallery. Most of these have been nearly a century in the Fitzgibbon Family, at Mount Shannon. To these may be added,

A Noble Full length Portrait of

His Grace, Arthur, Duke of Wellington

Painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence

It is said to have been a present from the great warrior, and is eminently suited for a public gallery or institution.

In the Morning Room, the hours and Mythological Water Colour drawings, superbly framed, after Rapheal, and Julio Romano, are in themselves an exhibition of fine art, and equally refined taste, and have been cited, as without equal in this country. There are also some beautiful specimens of Sevre, old Crown Derby, Dresden and rare old Worcester china, and the Auctioneer believes there is ample inducement for amateurs and collectors to attend the sale, even from distances. The splendid collection of Table and House Linen is specially worthy of notice.”

‘Mrs McMahon, from Thomas Street, Limerick, Caterer to the Royal Limerick County Regiment, will be in attendance to supply Refreshments of all kinds, except Wines and Spirits.’


To Parties Attending  the Auction




There are three Hotels in Castle-Connell, which is one mile distant by road or rail. Private furnished apartments may be obtained there.

Mount-Shannon House is about 4 miles from the City of Limerick by road, and Lisnagry Railway Station is just outside the demesne wall. The train leaves Limerick every morning at 10.45, in good time.

Parties coming from Dublin or North of Roscrea Junction, on the G.S. and Western Railway, should come via Nenagh, and save 13 miles and much time.

Killaloe on the Upper Shannon, is also connected with suitable access to Lisnagry by rail.

Catalogues (2000 lots), will be charged One Shilling and Postage, only. Admission for one or the seven days Sale, One Shilling also, but this latter sum will be returned in all instances to a purchaser.

The Lisnagry Gate, opposite the School-house and Post Office, is the nearest and only approach, whether for attending the Auction, or for Removing the purchases.

By order,

JOHN BERNAL, Auctioneer,

P pro The Receiver.