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In the grounds of the Castletown Estate, near the Irish town of Maynooth, is a large stone structure comprising of interlocking arches, adorned by stone pineapples and eagles, and topped by a massive obelisk pillar. The structure was supposed to mark the rear entrance to Castletown house, but in reality, it served no real purpose—it’s a folly. Its construction, however, did have a purpose.

The Conolly's Folly was commissioned by Katherine Conolly, the philanthropic widow of William Conolly, who was a prominent member of the Irish House of Commons and was the wealthiest man in Ireland at the time of his death. The 42-meter-tall folly was constructed in 1740 when the Irish famine of 1740-1741 was at its worst. Katherine wanted to feed the starving farmers, but rather than giving away food for free, she engaged them in the useless task of building the gateway so that the villagers could earn and eat with dignity.

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Conolly's Folly constructed during the Irish famine of 1740-1741. Photo credit: Bart Busschots/Flickr

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© Amusing Planet, 2017.


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