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Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:

Extent of Listing:
Country house, gates, piers, wall and conical tower

Date of Construction:
1780 - 1799

Address :
Old Mountjoy 205 Gortin Road Mountjoy Forest East Division Gortin Co. Tyrone BT79 7JQ

Mountjoy Forest East Division

Survey 2:

Date of Listing:
06/07/1981 00:00:00

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:
Country House

Former Use
Country House

Conservation Area:

Industrial Archaeology:





OS Map No:

IG Ref:
H4578 7685

Owner Category


Exterior Description And Setting

An asymmetrical two-and three-storey multi-bay castellated country house, built c.1780, remodelled c.1820, and located at the east side of Gortin Road on the slopes of Mullaghcarn. Appears to be generally L-shaped on plan with projections, some gabled sections, and three-stage square tower. Pitched natural slate roof, hipped in parts; angled ridge tiles, leaded hip caps. Variety of rectangular and circular chimneystacks, some ashlar, some rendered with corbelled and serrated caps. Gutters concealed behind crenellated parapet. Walling is part ruled and lined rendered, part ashlar stone; rubble stone conical tower to west end. Windows are round-headed Y-tracery timber sashes to upper floors, gables and tower, some grouped in threes and fours and sharing a timber frame, some grouped and separated by plain masonry mullions, some single, all with label moulds. Square-headed windows to ground floor, some uPVC replacements evident. Projecting masonry sills. Principal elevation faces north. The First Survey description of 1974 reads as follows: 'Long two and three storey house with recessed and broken N front. Roofs slated. Chimneys stone and at least two circular. Walls stone, partly rendered and lined, partly dressed stone and partly sandstone rubble. Generally crenellated parapet at eaves with frieze moulding. N front has a gable with three storey square tower adjoining. Hexagonal turret at NW corner and round turrets at quoins of projecting gable on S front. Windows generally double-hung, panes arranged in groups of 2, 3 and four and singly. Some have semi-circular arch heads, some ...(illeg.)…arch head and on S front lintel head with moulded stone architrave and drip moulding to upper windows. Most other windows have drip mouldings. Stucco chimneys have (serrated?) edge smoke baffles and no hats. Entrance on N front approached by three moulded stone steps. Door panelled and drip moulding over lintel.' Setting: The house is set within an extensive wooded demesne, accessed from SW by a long winding drive lined with mature trees and surrounded by forest. Cement rendered alcoved castellated entrance walls with double cast-iron gates from main road. There is a gravel forecourt to the north front of the house, and outbuildings are evident to north east. Roof: Natural slate Walling: Rendered / sandstone Windows: Timber / uPVC RWG: Parapet gutters


Not Known

Historical Information

The building is shown on the first edition of the OS Map of 1833, and is captioned “the cottage." It is captioned “Mountjoy Cottage” on the third edition map of 1905-6. Griffith’s Valuation of 1858 values the house at £25. A marginal note reads: “...purchased in 1858 for £2,110,... [the] house and offices [are] vacant, and in bad repair.” The value is increased in 1861 to £28. Mitchell and Rowan write that Mountjoy Forest was one of the largest plantations in Ireland at the time and comprised about 3,000 acres. Around 1780, “the patriot improver, Luke Gardiner, aided by John McEvoy, the author of the statistical survey of Co. Tyrone,” began planting trees, which by 1802 covered 927 acres. Charles Matthews, a late [eighteenth-century] actor is said to have helped in laying out details of the plantation.” (Rowan, p. 429) On his tour of Ireland in 1822, Surgeon to the Royal Navy Thomas Reid wrote that he had gone riding through “Mountjoy park, and the extensive demesne belonging to the Earl of Blessington, which are rich and well laid out, but not kept in the best order. I had travelled through this part of the country seventeen years before, and within that time it has undergone little improvement” (Reid, p.208). The house was built by the first Lord Mountjoy, or by his father Charles Gardiner of Rash House, MP for Taghmon in County Wexford. On Mountjoy’s death in 1798 his son, Charles John, the Earl of Blessington “began to carry out grandiose schemes on his estate, a little theatre was constructed in the forest, and the cottage gained a miscellany of castellated additions, which have all the character of amateur work. A long range was added on the northeast, and at the west end of the old house a great room was built at a higher level, with a delightful Gothic plasterwork cornice and a big mullioned window in a turreted gable end. The drawing room in the centre of the old house gained a nice Ionic marble fireplace and oak and laurel garlands in plaster on the ceiling….” (Rowan, p.430). The theatre alluded to may have in fact been housed in the west wing of which only a fragment survives (“Old Mountjoy”). The OS Memoirs note that “Mountjoy Forest, the principal part of the north of Cappagh belongs to Mr Gardiner of Mountjoy forest. …the present house called ‘the cottage’ is an inferior erection, room having being added to room which do not form any regular suite….Mr. Gardiner keeps a small pack of hounds for his own amusement. He has also introduced an annual race in the demesne, which tends as all amusements do, to bring a number of idle persons into the country and lowers the state of public morals.” In 1876, the house became the seat of the Rt.Hon. Sir William Grey Ellison-Macartney, sometime Governor of Tasmania and Western Australia and MP for Tyrone (“Old Mountjoy”). Mr. Dickie took over the property from the McCartney family in 1918. References: Primary Sources 1. PRONI OS/6/6/26/1-First Edition OS Map (1833) 2. PRONI OS/6/6/26/2-Second Edition OS Map (1854) 3. PRONI OS/6/6/26/3-Third Edition OS Map (1905-6) 4. PRONI VAL/1/B/645B –Townland Valuation (1856-64) 5. PRONI VAL/2/B/6/47A -Griffith’s Valuation (1858) 6. PRONI VAL/12/B/41/32A-33G –Valuation Revisions (1860-1925) Secondary Sources 1. Day, A. and P. McWilliams, eds. “OS Memoirs of Ireland, Parishes of County Tyrone I, 1821, 1823, 1833-36, Vol. 5.” Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies, 1990. 2. Reid, Thomas. Travels in Ireland in the Year 1822, Exhibiting Brief Sketches of Moral, Physical, and Political State of the Country: With Reflections of the Best Means of Improving Its Condition (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1823), p.208. 3. Rowan, Alistair. “North West Ulster: Londonderry, Donegal, Fermanagh, and Tyrone.” Buildings of Ireland Series. Dublin: Penguin Books, 1979. 4. “Old Mountjoy, Mountjoy Forrest, near Omagh, County Tyrone.” File in the Historic Buildings File, NIEA. 5. Mitchell, C. J. Haldane, Ed. Images of Omagh and District. Vol. 7. Omagh: Rotary Club of Omagh, 1999.

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation D. Plan Form H-. Alterations detracting from building I. Quality and survival of Interior J. Setting

Historic Interest

X. Local Interest V. Authorship Z. Rarity


An asymmetrical two-and three-storey multi-bay castellated country house, built c.1780, remodelled c.1820. Built in Mountjoy Forest by the first Lord Mountjoy or his father, the MP for Taghmon in County Wexford, this was originally a modest five-bay two-storey dwelling. This complicated house was further developed by the Earl of Blessington and displays a multitude of accretions embellished with decorative features dating from the early nineteenth century. It is this rather complicated composition that remains to the present and retains most of its early nineteenth century features including, crenellated parapets, decorative chimneystacks, arched and mullioned sash windows and its irregular staggered layout. While some windows have been replaced with uPVC, the overall impression remains intact within its picturesque landscaped setting. It is a significant example of a large property that has developed according to fashion and was associated with a family of important landowners and public figures.

General Comments

Date of Survey

04 March 2009