Shankill Castle has been home to Geoffrey and Elizabeth Cope since 1991. It is a very special house, brimming with creative inspiration, culture and heritage.
Elizabeth, a painter and Geoffrey, a historian, have hosted many creative people in their home over the last twenty years. They have shared with them their unique and beautiful setting in Ireland’s Ancient East and have dedicated Shankill Castle to the Arts and Culture.
History of Shankill
Shankill Castle was initially a Butler tower-house, situated near the ruins of an old church. In 1708, it was rebuilt by Peter Aylward who bought the land from his wife’s family. The new Shankill Castle was constructed as a Queen Anne house, set in a formal landscape, vista to the front and canal to the rear. In the 19th century, the house was enlarged and castellated. Serpentine bays were added to the canal and an unusual polyhedral sundial given pride of place on a sunken lawn. A gothic porch bearing the Aylward crest and a delightful conservatory were other additions. The stable-yard and the castellated entrance to the demesne are attributed to Daniel Robertson.
The garden is an oasis of tranquillity and natural beauty. It possesses remnants of 18th century lime tree allées, 19th century laurel lawns, as well as Victorian classics such as the now gigantic sequoias, and 20th century self-sown ash trees. The moated garden, once a forgotten rose garden planted with Sitka spruce, is now a spring garden. Its vivacious borders give a splash of colour in every season, and the graveyard blooms all year round. The walled garden has a charming apple arch under-planted with red tulips, and antique goblet-shaped pear trees trained against a mellow brick wall.
Steeped in such culture and heritage, Shankill Castle and gardens has been a place of inspiration for artists for the past twenty five years. The Cope family have dedicated themselves to the preservation and restoration of this historic house while celebrating the unique and eclectic character of the building. Consisting of three artists, one historian, and one archaeologist, the combined talents and passions of the Cope family are reflected in the inventive and lively activities we offer at the castle. Exhibitions are frequently hosted in the castle and farmyard, as well as their use as artists’ studios, attracting visitors not just locally, but from the whole of Ireland and internationally.
The Studio of Elizabeth Cope
Shankill Castle is also home and studio to the artist Elizabeth Cope whose paintings are on display.