Conolly's Folly

Conolly's Folly (Irish: Baois Uí Chongaile), a.k.a. The Obelisk or originally The Conolly Folly, is an obelisk structure located near Celbridge and Maynooth, both in north County Kildare, Ireland.


The folly was built within Castletown Estate (containing Castletown House), which contains two follies, both commissioned by Katherine Conolly, the philanthropic widow of Speaker William Conolly to provide employment for hundreds of the poor of Celbridge when the famine of 1740-41 was at its worst. The Obelisk was built in 1740 after a particularly severe winter. As a folly, it could be seen from the back of Castletown some 2.5 miles (4 km) away.

The folly was built on land that was near to, but not on, the Conolly estate. It therefore belonged to neighbouring Carton, the home of the FitzGerald family, Dukes of Leinster.

Designed by Richard Castle, it is 42 metres (140 feet) high and is composed of several arches, adorned by stone pineapples and eagles, topped by a massive obelisk pillar. It was restored in 1965 by the Irish Georgian Society, and nearby is the grave of Mariga, first wife of the Hon. Desmond Guinness of Leixlip Castle.

It is currently undergoing restoration work by the OPW as it has fallen into disrepair.


The name Conolly is used, rather than the more common spelling Connolly, as it was the spelling used by William Conolly and by all his descendants. It derived from the Gaelic 'Ui Conghaile'.

Building Activity

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