“I think this house has a marvellous doll’s house–like quality, in that it’s not a ‘great house’ but it’s very well-designed and very cleverly laid-out, and it’s got all its original fittings which is quite something”.
Hon. Desmond Guinness
Co-founder and former President, the Irish Georgian Society
Roundwood is one of Ireland’s finest mid-size houses of the Georgian period.
It was built by Anthony Sharp, scion of a prosperous family of cloth makers. Research by Brian de Breffny revealed that Sharp’s Quaker grandfather amassed a fortune in the late 17th century, running large flocks of sheep on his 2,000 acre holdings in County Leix to supply his Dublin clothing business.
The house probably dates from 1741, when the name Roundwood appears in registered deeds. Its architect is unknown, and Dr Maurice Craig judiciously suggests; ‘I prefer to believe that it was just put together by somebody: master-builder or even owner’.
The dwelling that Sharp’s grandfather purchased at the end of the 17th century probably still stands: Brian de Breffny identifies it as ‘the two-storey building, 47 feet long by 17 feet deep with a massive central chimney, standing at the back of the yard behind the present house… essentially it retains the characteristics of the long, low settlers’ houses of 17th century Ireland’.
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