Braganza, Bishops Palace, c.1923
- Map of Braganza House, Carlow
- Braganza, Bishops Palace, Carlow
How Cobden's palace became a ruin...
Hidden at the rear of a
housing estate is one of Carlow's oldest and most important
buildings — Braganza. Once the seat of the bishops of Kildare and
Leighlin, the beautifully designed mansion has, with the passing of
time, been reduced to a ruin.
Designed by Thomas Cobden,
the English architect who was also responsible for the construction
of the Cathedral of the Assumption, Braganza Villa, according to Fr.
P. J. Brophy in the 1949 issue of Carloviana was built for
Sir Dudley St. Leger Hill in 1819.
In fact, to be precise,
work on the house, said to have been modelled on Portuguese
architecture, began on Monday, August 26, 1819.
According to the local
newspaper of the time, The Carlow Post, "the first stone was laid
by Mrs. Hill, mother of Sir Dudley. About 9 am Mr. and Mrs. Hill, with a
large party of friends to the number of forty, sat down to an elegant
breakfast prepared for the occasion."
"Mrs. Hill proceeded with a
silver trowel and an appropriate apron to lay the first stone, which
having done. Mr. Cobden, the architect, made a few suitable remarks and
concluded the ceremony by giving the signal for three cheers."
But progress on the building
was slow and, three years later, it still was not completed. Sir Dudley,
who had distinguished himself in battle in both the South American War
and later with Wellington at Corunna and Talavera, was obviously growing
weary of the country squire life and opted to re-join the British Army,
being appointed Major in the 95th Derbyshire Foot in
At that time, he also offered
for sale the now completed and fully-furnished Braganza Villa on six
acres of lands. Anxious to show their appreciation for the work their
bishop Dr. James Doyle (JKL) had done for the diocese, the clergy met
and passed a resolution "That anxious to signify to our Revered Prelate
the sincerity of our attachment and gratitude, we do forthwith institute
a subscription in order to procure for him such a residence as will fix
the attention of posterity on the period and on the prelate."
committee decided to purchase Braganza for the sum of £2,500 and in
1826. Dr. Doyle left his residence at Old Derrig and came to live
From then, until the death
of Dr. Thomas Kehoe in 1969, Braganza was the residence of the
bishops of Kildare and Leighlin, and was referred to as the bishop's
palace. However, on his elevation to Bishop, the late Dr. Patrick
Lennon opted to break with tradition and bought a house on Station
Road. His official residence was later built on the grounds of the
presbytery at Dublin Road. On July 12, 1972, Braganza Villa,
standing on approx. seven acres of land, was sold by public auction.
A local construction
company erected 25 private houses on the site and Braganza was
walled off, leaving only one entrance at the rear.
As a listed building,
under the Town Development Plan, a developer is required to get the
consent of the local Urban District Council before carrying out any
alterations or before demolishing the building.
In 1978 An Bord Pleanala
granted planning permission to a developer to convert the building
to three apartments but this was never done.
An application is
currently before the UDC for the conversion of the building to six
apartments. As yet, no planning permission has been granted.
Source: The Nationalist February 16th 1990
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