The Kells House
The Kells House has a rich history and the property an even longer and richer one. The house is located on a strip of land known locally as Kelly’s because it became the property of the Kelly family during 18th century land reforms. We have talked to people who knew the Kelly’s and as far as we can tell they immigrated sometime between 1920-1930, reportedly to Chicago. At that time the land was reacquired by the Blenerhasets, the local gentry who owned Kells House. Kells House eventually passed into the hands of the Prease family who offered the property to my parents in 1972.
The house was designed by an American architect Morse Paine who had a deep interest and expertise in vernacular European architecture. Construction began in 1974 under the capable leadership of John Daly of Cahirsiveen and with the help of Tim O’Sullivan of Kells and other local tradesman. During the summers Tad lived in various trailers and accommodations and helped work on the house, mostly in the capacity of unskilled laborer, a role that delighted the real builders. In the course of the work, however, Tad learned to be a creditable stone mason and is responsible for building most of the stone walls in and around the house. Kell’s in those days as a very rural place and working cross culturally can always be a fascinating and at times amusing endeavor. Tad has lots of stories of those summers and the construction of the house that he would be happy to share.
In 2001, Tad’s parents recognizing Tad and Vic’s deep attachment to the house and the community generously passed the house on to us. Since then we have continued to update and maintain the house, renovating the kitchen, bathroom, replacing all the windows and doors, and insulating the walls. Then of course there is the endless landscaping work. Recently this has involved extensive work in the ruins, the rebuilding of existing stone walls and the construction of new ones. We see the preservation of this small bit of Irish history as an important undertaking.
The old road into Kells passed through the property immediately behind the old Kelly farm. The farm consists of a two room stone house, a stone barn and smaller outbuildings and hutches. The abandoned lane up the mountain and the farms water source, a series of two springs are still clear. Restoring the road itself has been a major undertaking as the walls on either side were partially collapsed and the road over grown. Now, however, it is clearly delineated and walkable. The walls of the ruined structures have been repaired and now the entire area is a testimonial to former residents and a beautiful park-like natural garden.
We have started a new tradition of lighting a candle in the home each year on our arrival and departure to acknowledge the spirit of the place and all those who were forced by circumstance to make the wrenching choice of leaving this beautiful country.