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Mitchelstown Castle was the largest neo-Gothic house in Ireland. It was looted and burned on 12 August 1922, by the Republican Army which had occupied it for the previous six weeks. The motives are fully discussed in Bill Power's book, 'White Knights, Dark Earls, the rise and fall of an Anglo-Irish dynasty,' (The Collins Press, 2000). The order to burn the building, to prevent the newly established Irish Free State army from having use of it, was made by a local Republican commandant, Patrick Luddy, with the approval of General Liam Lynch. It is clear that one of the motivations for the burning was to try to cover up the looting of the castle's contents, including large amounts of furniture, a 'baby grand piano,' paintings by Conrad, Beechy and Gainsborough. Many of these objects have come up for sale in recent years and some, such as the piano, are still kept locally. The Castle was severely damaged by the fire. However, it is clear from documents in the National Archives of Ireland that, for example, in places where the fire had not reached, 'mantlepieces had been forcibly wrenched from the walls and carted.' As this episode took place at the height of the Irish Civil War, there was no appetite afterwards to prosecute anyone for their role in the looting and burning. The ashlar limestone of the castle was later removed to build the new Cistercian abbey at Mount Melleray, County Water. The site of the building is now occupied by a milk powder processing plant and the surrounding 1,214 acre demesne (private park) of the castle has been destroyed. (Bill Power, June 2008)

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Q: How was Mitchelstown Castle Burnt Down?
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