This odd looking structure is The Wonderful Barn, It was  commissioned by Katherine Conolly, widow of William ‘speaker’ Conolly of the Castletown Estate. It rises to a height of 73 feet in the shape of a tapering cone and is encircled by a cantilevered staircase. It is sometimes described as a ‘folly’ which is a term used for ornamental buildings however this one was a ‘multipurpose famine relief project’ for storing grain, for shooting game and also for domestic purposes. It was built in the years immediately after the much ‘forgotten famine’ of 1740-41 where recent estimates have put the death toll at between 250,000 and 480,000. It was reported that it was so cold that large icebergs on the River Liffey destroyed cargo boats, street lights could not be lit and thousands of people literally froze in their beds or starved to death when the crops failed. Similar reports of this severe winter were recorded from all over Europe and meteorologists now say this was possibly the last kick of the ice age. The Irish described it as ‘the year of the slaughter’.(R)