Woodlawn House is a Palladian-style country house dating to 1760. The former great house is not currently open to the public, but the owner does intend to open a visitors’ centre in the future, perhaps giving present-day visitors and future generations a glimpse of what life would have been like there.
The property was constructed by the first Baron Ashtown, Frederick Trench. The wealthy Trench family employed a large staff to manage their home and the surrounding estate which included an icehouse, several cottages, a gamekeeper’s lodge, and even a church. They also held considerable power and successfully sought to have the Dublin-Galway railway line re-routed through the estate. Woodlawn House was remodeled in the mid-nineteenth century by Frederick Mason Trench, 2nd Baron Ashtown and nephew of the original owner.
The good fortune enjoyed by the family began to turn when the 3rd Baron Ashtown, Frederick Oliver Trench, returned from Eton and took control of the estate. He implemented changes that negatively impacted the estate workers, leading them to strike and urge a local boycott. Undeterred, he brought in workers from Scotland in defiance of the families who had been loyal to the estate. He was also a staunch opponent of Irish nationalism and used his editorial role at a monthly magazine, Grievances from Ireland, to share his strongly held views. This alienated him even further and made the remaining duration of his tenure turbulent, to say the least. He faced bankruptcy, saw furniture, possessions, and livestock sold at auction, faced an allegation of assault brought by two schoolboys (acquitted), and was forced into exile when the house was commandeered by the Irish Republican Army. When he finally returned, he found that the house had been ransacked and a large portion of his land would be sold under the new laws. He was compensated but the “good old days” had certainly come to an end.
Following his death in 1946, the house passed to Robert Power Trench, 4th Baron Ashtown but he had no interest in the property and it in 1947 to Derek Le Poer Trench who lived there until 1973. Woodlawn House has changed hands three times since then and the property – which was damaged by fire in 1982 – sat empty for more than 40 years before the current owner acquired it and began an ambitious (and expensive) restoration program.
Those who explored the property before it was rescued described their experience of the property as “creepy” and “unnerving”, with flickers of the former grandeur peeping out through the decay. Some reported hearing loud banging noises, footsteps, crying, and female screams echoing through the house, while others spoke of feeling a presence in a room that was used to hang animal carcasses ahead of cooking.
Frankly, I am not that convinced by the stories I have read about this place. Granted, it’s a big, derelict house and I can imagine that it must be scary at night, but the quality of the accounts of alleged paranormal activity varies. One credible account I did find was of a visitor who was carrying out a survey at the property in 2001 when he noted a shadow moving across three upper floor windows. The strange thing was that there was no floor at that level – that part of the property was damaged in an earlier fire and there was no way that any one human could have been walking in that space. Did he see a ghost? Is Woodlawn House really haunted?
Maybe one day when part of the property reopens to the public, we might find out the truth. For now, it says in this guide as a “possible haunting”. If you have had an experience at this property, why not click “Add Your Experience” below and share your story?
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The house and lands are currently closed to the public while restoration works are carried out. The owner does intend to open part of the property in the future when it is safe and practical to do so, so please respect his wishes until then and keep away.
Users should always undertake their own checks before traveling to Woodlawn House or any other location listed on this website, to ensure that it will be open and accessible.
If you have visited Woodlawn House, why not tell other users how you got on? Would you recommend it? Did you see, hear or feel anything? Click “Add Your Experience” and then enter your name and email address to post your guest review.
Please note that all experiences will be vetted prior to publishing and I reserve the right to decline inclusion or to redact sensitive information.
Spirited Isle accepts no responsibility for action taken by any user having consulted information published on this website or elsewhere. Furthermore, the owner of the website is not responsible for any loss, damage, injury, demonic possession, death, or other negative outcome arising..
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