King House, Boyle

Positioned in the bustling heart of Boyle, the historical King House has witnessed over 300 years of change and evolution, a tale eloquently recounted by Nollaig Feeney. This architectural gem, one of Connacht's pioneer grand townhouses, was crafted between 1720 and 1740 for the prominent Sir Henry King MP. Later, it became the esteemed residence of Edward King MP, making the King lineage one of Ireland's premier landowning dynasties.

Over its vast timeline, King House has served multiple purposes: from a family residence, a barracks, a workplace, to even a storage area. Its design traces back to the visionary William Halfpenny, mentored by the esteemed Sir Edward Lovett Pearce. Though the house resonates with Palladian elegance complete with its classical motifs, it intriguingly also holds a 17th-century fortified essence. This dual design character was instrumental when it sheltered the Connaught Rangers and Roscommon Militia in the 19th century.

A notable element is the expansive Long Gallery, seamlessly spanning the ground floor, distinguished by its Carréaux d’Octagnes patterned stonework. While symmetrically designed on a U-shaped layout across its four levels, it's believed the original vision for King House was a rectangular structure, an idea never realized.

The house shelters a variety of distinct features, including an extensive vaulted basement, an anomaly in its time. A catastrophic fire in 1788 moved the King family to Rockingham, another majestic estate.

As the 19th century rolled in, the house transformed into a military stronghold post its purchase by the War Office. With the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922, it was christened the Dockery Barracks and later saw occupancy by the Third Infantry Battalion.

The latter part of the 20th century wasn't kind to King House. In 1960, it changed hands and saw a decline in its structural integrity. By the 1970s, it was on the brink of demolition. However, in a fortunate turn of events, the Roscommon County Council acquired it in 1987, initiating a four-year meticulous renovation. Today, it stands as a testament to its Georgian roots, housing the Boyle Civic Arts Collection, the museum for the Connaught Rangers Association, and the Boyle Town Library, welcoming visitors to immerse in its rich history. A comprehensive guidebook is available for those keen to delve deeper.