A visit to Avondale House is a visit to a family home
A home that was once full of life and laughter; where one resident was a champion of trees, while another became one of Ireland’s greatest historical figures.
The rooms of this great house are brought to life for our visitors, and once again the stories of these families fill these beautiful spaces.
In 1770 Samuel Hayes, a young barrister and keen naturalist, inherited a large estate in Wicklow, which he called Avondale. Samuel was a man ahead of his time. Not only did he write Ireland’s first book devoted to trees, but he also realised that the native forests of Ireland were disappearing. He knew the solution was in afforestation and managing woodlands, so he set about creating a forest park on his land and creating a home here. Designed by James Wyatt, in the Georgian style, Avondale House was built in 1777.
When Samuel died in 1795, the house and estate were passed to his cousin, Sir John Parnell. His will stated that it should always pass to a younger son of the family. Subsequently, the estate and house was handed down to John Henry Parnell, father of Charles Stewart.
In these beautiful surroundings of county Wicklow, the Parnells raised their 11 children, six girls and five boys.
Just like any family home today, this was a busy house; the rooms and corridors would have echoed with laughter, chatter, and footsteps. The Parnell family enjoyed many hobbies and pastimes, making the most of the estate and the landscape that surrounded them.
When John Henry Parnell (1811-1859) and his wife Delia’s son, Charles Stewart, inherited Avondale on his 21st Birthday he also inherited the responsibility of running a large estate in financial difficulty. This experience shaped the way he thought about landowners and tenants in Ireland and informed the direction his political career would later take.
Avondale House and Estate was purchased by the state in 1904. Today you can visit the house and explore the story of Samuel Hayes and the Parnell Family. Learn how this special place influenced them, and the chapters they each added to the story of Ireland.