Conolly’s Folly, Celbridge. County Kildare    1742

This strange looking structure is known as ‘Conolly’s Folly’ or ‘Conolly’s Obelisk’ and stands 140 feet high. It is composed of several arches and is adorned by stone pineapples, eagles and a massive pillar. It was built under the instruction of Katherine Conolly, the philanthropic widow of William Speaker Conolly of Castletown House. It provided employment for the people of Celbridge just after the famine of 1740/1. This ‘forgotten famine’ was known at the time as ‘The Year of the Slaughter’ and occurred due to a period of extremely poor weather. It is estimated that between 250,000 and 480, 000 people either froze to death or died of starvation due to the crops being destroyed by wind, rain or frost. The Obelisk was designed by the famous architect Richard Cassel whose other works include Russborough House, Leinster House and Powerscourt House. Conolly spelled his name ‘Conolly’ instead of the more common ‘Connolly’ as this was the original spelling derived from the Gaelic ‘Ui Conghaile’. The Obelisk was restored in 1965 by the Irish Georgian Society who use it as their emblem but has since fallen into disrepair.