The name Kilronan comes from the Gaelic ‘Cill Rónain’, meaning Ronan’s Abbey. According to tradition, St. Ronan and his daughter St. Lasair established a church here on the banks of Lough Meelagh in the 6th century.
From the eighteenth century the Anglo-Irish families of Tenison, King-Tenison and Kingston inhabited the region of North Roscommon, Ireland and, for a long period they occupied Castle Tenison, later known as Kilronan Castle. Today Kilronan Castle is a luxury hotel & spa.
Richard Tenison (d. 1726) second son of the Bishop of Meath, purchased considerable estates in counties Leitrim and Roscommon, which formerly belonged to Sir Thomas Dundas, Baronet- among them the lands of Kilronan.
Castle Tenison was built in the early 19th Century and replaced a house near the site of the present out-offices. The new building was of 3 stories, 3 bay symmetrical castellated block, with slender corner turrets or minarets; the rooms were well proportioned and there was delicate fan vaulting plaster-work on the stairs and landing.
In 1814 it was the seat of Thomas Tennison and was recorded by Lewis as the seat of Col. Tenison. Isaac Weld visited the place in the late 1820s and referred to the castle as "a spacious and costly modern built edifice of 3 stories in height, in form nearly square with a round minaret tower at each angle; the whole embattled at the summit".
In those days the castle and demesne were self-contained and self-sufficient. There was a piped water supply by gravity from the mountainside. Sheep and cattle were slaughtered and they had a supply of ice all year-round.
The icehouse was an architectural and engineering masterpiece - stone on the outside then a brick core suspended by bridging from the stone walls. When the lake was frozen the farm carts were used to convey the ice to the ice house and it would be tipped in.
There was a subterranean tunnel from the direction of the garden into the basement. All supplies and fuel were brought in through the tunnel. The staff and any of the tenantry who had a complaint had to use the tunnel and woe betide any person who dared to call to the front door.
At the time of Griffith's Valuation the house had been valued at £70 and was occupied by Edward King Tenison aka "Edwd. King Tenison" [GV] - one of the principal lessors of property in the parishes of Ardcarn & Kilronan, barony of Boyle.
Edward King Tenison
It was not until 1876 that the baronial tower and battlemented part of the castle were added. The 5 storey house presently occupying this site was constructed in the later 19th century. In 1894 Slater referred to it as a residence of the Earl of Kingston.
Kilronan Castle, although furnished was seldom occupied in the early 20th Century due to the political and social change that was happening in Ireland. During the struggle for independence there was a very strong active unit of the Republican forces in the Arigna area. One of their leaders, Tom Duignan, called with some of his men on Lord Kingston in search of arms. Lord Kingston declared he was born in Ireland, had lived all his life in Ireland and he hoped to die there. Duignan retorted, with a wry smile, "well we can arrange that if you wish".
In 1939 the contents of the castle were sold by auction. It included a cabinet that belonged to Napoleon.
The castle was later occupied by a section of the Construction Corps who were engaged in building a road in the Arigna Mountains. Then the Land Commission acquired the property. Later Michael and Brendan Layden bought the castle. The roof was removed in the 1950s in an attempt to mitigate taxation and the castle fell derelict.
21st CENTURY RESTORATION
By 2004, all that remained was the perimeter walls and a huge challenge for the new owners, Albert and Alan Hanly, who undertook a significant restoration project to rejuvenate Kilronan Castle into the luxury castle estate and spa it is today.