Beginning of the end.
As is true of many derelict and demolished period country houses in Ireland, the decline of Quarrymount had its origin in the famine of 1846 to 1848. Landowners who were sympathetic to the plight of their tenants suffered a loss of rent which was their only source of income. Many large estates were effectively bankrupted by the famine. In the case of Quarrymount, the famine did not spell disaster but it did weaken the finances of the Bodkin family severely. Their estate in Rahoon, now a suburb of Galway city, was sold under the Encumbered Estates Act in order to pay their debts. The irresponsibility of the succeeding generation put the final nail in the coffin. By the early 1880's, gambling had put the family on the verge of ruin. The timely marriage of Jack Bodkin to an Australian heiress put a temporary stay on matters. It is possible that the injection of Australian funds paid for the refurbishment of Quarrymount in 1879. However, the departure of his wife to Australia signalled the end of an era. Although he was given an allowance by his estranged wife, it was not sufficient to maintain his lifestyle and the arrival of Charles Stewart Parnell, representing the Irish Land Purchase & Resettlement Company with an offer which was generally regarded as exceptionally generous must have seemed too good to be true. Jack Bodkin, in addition to being a gambler, had a penchant for travel and the £40,000 which he received for the estate, which is equivalent to £4+ million in todays terms, would have paid for a lot of global travelling!
A new lease of life
Unfortunately, the Irish Land Purchase & Resettlement Company had difficulties in dividing the Quarrymount estate and the house was not finally disposed of, to the Gordon family, until the turn of the century. The surrounding estate had, by this time, been reduced to 220 acres. This would be regarded as quite a large farm in this part of Ireland, and would have been adequate to maintain the house and provide a comfortable lifestyle. Indeed, the Gordon family would eventually have been regarded as "landed gentry". While no major alterations or refurbishments were carried out over the ensuing years, the house was maintained in good condition until the 1960's. As with the Bodkin family, the third generation of the Gordon family was to be the last to live at Quarrymount. Henry Gordon had a passionate interest in horses and did not, in the opinion of the Land Commission, make adequate or effective use of the estate. This triggered the Land Commission to compulsorily acquire all but 20 acres of the estate for division among local farmers. As is stated elsewhere on this site, the property taxes alone would not have been supportable at this point and the maintenance of the house would have been impossible. The house went into a rapid decline in condition and Henry Gordon finally departed in 1972.
The Final Decline
Had the new owner proceeded with his plans to convert the house into a small hotel it would probably have arrested the decline. However, as the house has remained unoccupied since 1972 it continued to deteriorate for the following 20 years.
In the early 1970's Quarrymount did not have the same attraction as it does today due to a number of factors. The oil crises of the early '70's tended to encourage people to move closer to their places of work and to build smaller, more energy efficient, houses. Galway city, the major centre of employment at this time, is 25 miles from the house and, while this would be regarded as a short journey today, it was seen a lengthy commuting distance in the 70's. Also, as is stated elsewhere on this site, houses like Quarrymount were generally regarded as extremely wasteful in energy terms.
Over the ensuing years the rear portion of the building deteriorated to a point where it was decided to demolish it for safety reasons. This opened the stairwell of the main house to the elements and caused some mould and water damage.
The lead flashing and gutters on the main part of the house became porous and fragmented, allowing rainwater to seep into the fabric of the building. This eventually led to localised wet rot in the roof structure and the second floor, which in turn caused sections of the ornate plaster ceilings to collapse. The sliding sash windows eventually fell in through a combination of rot, due to lack of maintenance, and vandalism.
In 1982 the limestone portico was sold and used in the construction of a reproduction country house in Co. Meath. Ironically, the damage which the rain and damp caused to the ceilings saved them. The purchasers of the portico considered removing the ceilings but abandoned the idea because of the fact that they were incomplete.
The two large marble fireplaces in the reception rooms were removed and sold in 1984. The sale was never completed as the purchaser never returned to make the final payment.
By 1992 the house was derelict, the roof was sagging, and wet rot had caused the second floor ceilings and floors to warp and sag. Wild ivy had begun to enter through the basement windows and was encircling one of the ground floor windows. However, the quality and faded beauty of the building was still obvious and it was not beyond rescue.