Lyons Demesne

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Lyons Demesne
County Kildare
Cliff at Lyons.jpg
Part of the village of the Lyons Estate
restored and turned into a hotel
Location: 53°18’4"N, 6°32’42"W
Built 1785-1797
By: Oliver Grace

Lyons Demesne, also Lyons Estate, is a country house and estate in County Kildare. It is located situated in the townland and civil parish of Lyons, near Celbridge, to the north-east of Tipperstown. The border with County Dublin passes through the townland of Lyons, such that a portion of the gardens is situated in that county.

The Georgian house, completed in 1797 under architect Oliver Grace, is set in 600 acres. Historically, Lyons was the setting of a notable duel between Daniel O'Connell and John D'Esterre. University College, Dublin, Lyons Research Farm consists of a portion of the original Lyons Estate and is used by the School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine for teaching and research activities.


Michael Aylmer inherited the estate at the age of four in 1733 and became indebted to banker Sir Nicholas Lawless (later Baron Cloncurry), eventually losing the house in 1796. Lawless commissioned architect Grace to build a "grand Georgian mansion" in 1785, and it was completed in 1797.[1][2] His son, The 2nd Baron Cloncurry, continued the efforts between 1804 and 1810, developing the house further.

A duel took place at Lyons in 1815 subsequent to a speech made by O'Connell. He was challenged by John D'Esterre, a member of Dublin Corporation, who objected to O'Connell's description of 'Corpo' being a 'beggarly corporation'.[3] The expectation was that D'Esterre would kill O'Connell. However it was O'Connell who mortally wounded D'Esterre with a shot in the hip which lodged the bullet in D'Esterre's stomach.[4]

University College, Dublin purchased the Lyons Estate in 1963, the purchase consisting of Lyons House and approximately 1,200 acres. In the early 1990s, the university sold the house and half of the land, approximately 620 acres. It was purchased by the late Ryanair businessman Tony Ryan in 1996 for £3.5 million who spent over £80 million renovating it, and it was bequeathed to his wife upon his death.[5][6] In 2009, the estate was valued at £65.5 million but has since drastically declined in value, on the market in July 2012 at £25 million.[5] The village part of the estate was sold to the Cliff Collection in 2016 and developed into a hotel called Cliff at Lyons.[7]

Architecture and fittings

Lyons Demesne, considered a "Georgian treasure",[8] was completed between 1785 and 1797. Later, Valentine Lawless, 2nd Baron Cloncurry, spent £200,000 on renovation included frescoes by Gaspare Gabrielli and three ship loads of classical art imported from Italy. A fourth shipment was lost when it sank off Wicklow. Treasures which were successfully imported include three columns from the ruins of the Golden House of Nero in Rome, used in the portico, and a statue of Venus excavated at Ostia. Country Life, which regards Lyons as Ireland's most significant estate, says of it, "There are seven suites in the main house, a self contained guest wing with four bedrooms and staff quarters in the north wing."[9] The house has its own private cinema, gymnasium, billiards room, helicopter landing pad, traditional Irish pub, wine cellar, and half Olympic-sized swimming pool.[10] It is decorated in the Directoire style, of which there are few examples in Ireland.


The gardens of the estate were developed by Lawless between 1804 and 1810. There are an additional five lodges on the estate, a 22-acre spring-fed, stocked lake, stables, stud farm facilities and natural gallops.[9] The University College Dublin Lyons Research Farm consists of a portion of the original Lyons Estate, having retained approximately 580 acres, which are used by the School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine for teaching and research activities.[11]

Further reading


  1. Architectural digest. John C. Brasfield Pub. Corp.. 2002. p. 139. Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  2. "Lyons Demesne: Works of Art from the Collection of the late Dr. Tony Ryan". Christie's. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  3. Winn, Christopher; Osawa, Mai (15 February 2011). I Never Knew That About the Irish. Macmillan. pp. 69–. ISBN 978-0-312-66164-9. Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  4. Burke, Thomas Nicolas (1872). The sermons, lectures, and addresses (Public domain ed.). Thomas O'Kane. pp. 21–. Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Ryanair summer sale: The home that Irish airline boss spent £80million improving is on the market for just £25million". Daily Mail. 9 July 2012. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  6. "Ryan wills millions to wife and his lover". The Independent. 14 December 2008. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  7. "The History - Cliff at Lyons". Cliff at Lyons. Retrieved 14 August 2018. 
  8. Malcomson, A. P. W. (1 December 2006). The Pursuit of the Heiress: Aristocratic Marriage in Ireland 1740-1840. Ulster Historical Foundation. p. 263. ISBN 978-1-903688-65-6. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Ireland's most significant estate". Country Life. 11 July 2010. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  10. "Have a spare €50m? You could buy this Kildare estate at a knockdown price". The Daily Edge. 21 December 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  11. "UCD Lyons Research Farm". University College of Dublin. Retrieved 15 July 2012. 

Outside links