The Early Years
The earliest record of the Lloyd connection with Lisheen townland is to be found in the will of John Lloyd Esq., dated 1770, which records that he was in possession of the lands of the Lisheen, Ballyerc and Lisdonowly by that date through purchase from George Grace. He was also in possession of an impressive number of other townlands in the Templemore / Loughmore area. From this deed it would seem that he parcelled out his landholdings among his sons. John, his eldest son, got Cranagh and Lloydsboro, Thomas got lands in the Borrisnoe area, George got Kilolonagh, Henry Jesse got Castleiney, and Fredrick got Lisheen, and the two adjacent townlands, namely Ballerk and Lisdonowly.
Frederick, who like his other brothers, apart from George, was educated in Trinity College, married Julia Vereker of Roxborough, Co Limerick. He inherited some other lands in Co Cork named Ballymacrease, probably from his father. When he took up residence in Lisheen is undetermined. His eldest son, John, was born towards the end of the 1700’s and is recorded on a school list of 1803. Whether Frederick was living in Lisheen by that date is not known, but is seems that he came there sometime fairly early in century, where according to tradition, he occupied a three storey Georgian house built by Grace on the site of the later castle.
Frederick Lloyd is mentioned in a report dated July 1822, as leasing or renting land in Lisheen to a farmer named John Maher, and there is a letter in the National Archives from Frederick, dated August 1822, written to Dublin Castle regarding the return to the neighbourhood of some apparently notorious character named Edmund Delahunty. These show that Frederick was still the landlord of Lisheen at that time. It was probably he who embarked on the building of the present castle, which according to tradition was built around the Georgian house in stages. There is no record as to when the work started, but it may have been very early in the century. It is thought that he began building it for his son and heir, John, who got married to Catherine Rotton, of Bath, England. The date 1808 is given in Burke’s Irish Family Records, p.731, as the date of marriage, but that appears to be too early a date for it, as his earliest child was not born until 1821. Frederick appears to have returned to Limerick City, as the inscription on the tomb of another son, named Frederick after him, and dated 1832, records him as ‘of Fortfield House.’ Frederick Junior was a lieutenant in the army, and died at the early age of 41 years. He was the first of the Lisheen Lloyds to be buried in Cooleeny.
The earliest recorded mention of the castle is to be found in the Tithe Applotment Book of 1827, where John Lloyd Esq., ‘of the Castle’ is listed as paying tithes on parcels of land amounting to around 122acres, plantation measure. It was apparently fairly imposing by the mid-1830s as Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary, published in 1837, described it as ‘a handsome castellated building.’ But John apparently continued to add to the structure, as the O’Donovan letters, dated 1841; state that Mr Lloyd was ‘now building a new castle.’ The police barracks across the road from the castle entrance was built sometime after 1836, and is first mentioned in the rate book of 1842. It is also shown in the OS map of 1841.
The castle is a battlemented Tudor-style structure, with side turrets, and a central machicolated turret enclosing the main doorway. Such castle-like structures in revivalist styles were in vogue in that early Victorian period. Lisheen is a more modest version of the impressive castellated residences built in the first half of the nineteenth century, such as Charleville, near Tullamore, designed by Francis Johnston, Castle Bernard, near Kinnity, Co Offaly, Blackrock Castle, Cork, designed by James and George Richard Pain, and Glenstal, near Murroe, now a Benedictine Abbey.