At the end of the riverside nature walk is an old stone stile with a grand archway. It was erected by the Massy family and leads into the estate that once housed the large and imposing mansion of Hermitage. Lord Massy’s stile is one of a number of stiles bordering the River Shannon at Castleconnell.

The Massy family were of Cromwellian origin, their ancestors coming over to Ireland with Cromwell’s army in 1649. After the Cromwellian conquest, they were granted extensive lands in County Limerick and over the years expanded their landholdings in the county.

The third Baron Massy purchased Hermitage in 1807 and moved the family seat to this magnificent mansion on the banks of the River Shannon.  It was here that the 6th Baron, John Thomas William Massy, hosted extravagant parties for the gentry during the summer making good use of his salmon fishing rights on this stretch of the river.

He died in 1915 with his estate in debt and the contents of Hermitage house were put up for auction. The mansion was left empty and uninhabited and in June 1921, it was burnt to the ground, a casualty of the Irish War of Independence.

The family vault is in the churchyard of All Saints Church, Stradbally.