Barrow House is a unique
Georgian Manor House,
steeped in history, now held safe as a protected structure,
an Irish Historic Monument proudly elegant
against the backdrop of the Wild Atlantic,
on the West coast of Ireland.
The house, built in 1715, has a rich history of ownership from knights
and noblemen and smugglers.
Now fully restored to her
Barrow House accommodates guests in a luxurious and elegant style,
with pristine service set in a breath taking location.
For centuries Barrow House has proudly featured as an integral part
of the landscape across Barrow Bay and looking towards the
Slieve Mish Mountains,
while it is worlds apart from the mainstream, it’s only a 5 minute walk to Tralee Golf Course,
a 15 minute drive to Tralee town centre and 30 minutes
to Kerry Airport.
An elder female member of the McCowen family sits outside the front of Barrow House.
Barrow House is a protected Irish monument
and is listed in
The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
A Landmark property on an Atlantic tidal bay, surrounded by beaches and turquoise sea.
The current version of the house built in 1715 and extended in the late 19th century
and now restored to Georgian elegance.
Various printed ephemera and photography from the Barrow House archive.
Barrow House - The Georgian Era
is the remains of an ancient church
referred to in Papal documents 1302-07 as “Ecclesia of Barun” or the Church of Barun (Barrow).
The lands of Barrow were part of the 6,000 acres granted by Elizabeth 1 in 1587 to Sir Edward Denny
for his loyalty following the Desmond Rebellion.
The heyday of Barrow House was built during the Georgian Era (1714-1830),
however there is evidence that there was a house in this location during or after
the Cromwellian period (1649-57).
Smuggling of wines and tobacco was a feature of life in Kerry during the 17th and 18th centuries
in particular and Barrow Harbour was a natural ‘rendezvous' for the smugglers with
it's caves and narrow inlets.
Various printed ephemera and old photos from the Barrow House archive.
The famous Georgian front elevation of Barrow House can be seen from far across the bay,
and was added as part of the structural rebuild and the enlarging of Barrow House
somewhere between 1715 - 1760, with a second sympathetic addition to the rear in the late 1800’s.
The house remains much the same to this day, with 4 feet thick internal walls still visible,
two gable end chimney stacks, historic interior design features, hand made ceiling mouldings and sash windows
with antique glass all act as signals to noble dwelling with typically restrained and rational elegance
Documents show that the house and the estate were passed on through marriage or by sale to owners
such as the notorious “Smuggler” John Collis, the Caledonian merchant families of McCowen
and onwards into the 1900's to the last Irish Royal family - The Fitzgerald’s - The Knights of Kerry,
who affectionately referred to Barrow House as their “Summerhouse”.
A page from one of the McCowen family photo albums at Barrow House.
The property was eventually sold to Nell Griffith, a relative
of the Ferris family,
a long standing Kerry name, many of whom continue to live in the region to this day.
In more recent years, a flamboyant American woman
Maureen Erde, nostalgic for her childhood holidays in Ireland, kept Barrow House as
a golfers guesthouse
and before retiring in 1999 published her popular account of restoring and running the house entitled
“Help me, I’m an Irish Inn Keeper”
A vintage aerial photograph of Barrow House
Barrow House has featured in movies and novels,
she is the subject
of whispered ghost stories and has appeared in the
headlines of the Irish newspapers for several generations.
It was within these walls
that infamous smuggling
and tunnelling plans were hatched, and so it continues…
even in the recent history Barrow House was the centre of
a smuggling scandal
that put the house back in the news once again.
Various vintage newspaper headlines and photos from the McCowen family archive.
She has been squatted in, repossessed by the banks and slowly allowed to fade
but after a sad period of neglect, Barrow's ghosts have been placated, the original features restored.
And now, this Grande Dame, this jewel in Kerry’s crown has resumed her rightful place dazzling guests.
Once more providing
seclusion for travellers
and welcoming the
pursuers of seclusion,
relaxation and luxurious comforts.
There are fascinating stories told about Barrow House and her infamous owners
throughout the centuries, ranging from the Cromwell era Denny family
through to tobacco smugglers and the Knights of Kerry
and a few opportunists in between.
Ireland’s history is often told by word of mouth
and the locals in the area will always have a story to tell,
perhaps when you visit, you'll hear the one about how a young local girl whilst working as a maid
at Barrow House “borrowed” a resident Lady’s dress and jewels to go to a local Ceili,
much to the delight of the crowd as she arrived by
bicycle waving regally.
Various printed ephemera and photos from the McCowen family archive.
Our guests today still sense the connection of history
and glamour of the house,
forever rooted to this land and this special place.
You can learn more about the important role Barrow House played
in the most fascinating era of Irish history, deep within
in the Kingdom of Kerry
– come stay awhile
and see what you uncover.