The Building of Coolcronan House, Foxford in Co. Mayo
Originally Sir Edmond Perry intended to build on a site near Cloghans. In his history of the Knox families Mr Cyril Knox recalls:
"Before acquiring Coolcronan Mr Perry had begun laying out an estate along the shore of Lough Con near Cloghans at Cappenagleuch. He had done quite a lot of planting there before he discovered that he could not get title to some of the land expected, whereupon the scheme was abandoned. Some of the woods he planted survived until fairly recent times, and in late Victorian days it was a popular place for fashionable picnics. I can remember the older people speak-ing about them and being shown photographs of some of the gatherings."
Carrowkerribly was then to be the location, if his brother-in-law, Sir Arthur, was to have his way. But the bridegroom could not be persuaded to build at Carrowkerribly and, against all advice, decided to build where the house is now, with its avenue leading to the main Ballina/Foxford road.
He rather fancied himself as an architect, which he was not, and though advised against it, insisted on choosing a site by the river. Sadly, the ground there was all composed of rabbit sand, unsuitable for foundations, and the walls were not raised very high when they began to sink. To counteract this, large iron plates had to be driven in underneath at great expense to prevent further subsidence.
He had the idea that the proper material for a damp course was slate which was put in at his express desire but, being soft, it was soon crushed to powder, as the weight overhead increased, thus it was rendered useless. He next decided on long narrow passages above and below, only to find, when it was all completed, that they left no space for manoeuvering heavy furniture. So the windows were widened to allow access for the furniture. This, in turn, entailed an excess of sunlight as the house faced south. It was a ruination to polish mahogany furniture etc. and they were obliged to put up special curtains for its protection. Altogether it was considered in the words of Major Myles Perry to be "the greatest jerry built house in the country."
As the Moy regularly flooded the area the house was in a damp, foggy location and one guest who became seriously ill while on a visit there had the source of her illness traced to the foul water on hand for drinking. Nevertheless, she insisted on a bottle of the water being sent to her every day in Dublin and swore it to be of the greatest healing quality. None of the family or the servants who drank the water ever suffered any ill-effects from it.
Researched by Mary Faughnan, Coolcronan.