Jealous Wall: Ireland’s Largest Folly
The Belvedere House and Gardens located on the shores of Lough Ennell near Mullingar, County Westmeath in Ireland, contains several architectural oddities and follies, including the largest one in Ireland—the aptly named “Jealous Wall”. This three-storey structure, designed to resemble the crumbling ruins of an old Gothic castle, was built by Robert Rochfort, an ambitious aristocrat for whom jealousy and revenge were the key themes in life.
Robert Rochfort, the first earl of Belvedere, was one of eleven children born to George Rochfort, a friend of the famous Irish writer Jonathan Swift. Robert Rochfort, whose infamy as a husband would earn him the title of the “wicked earl”, had lost his first wife to smallpox after one year of marriage. After the death of his first wife, Robert Rochfort married the sixteen-years-old Mary Molesworth, who in the course of the next few years, bore her husband four children. But Robert had no interest in family life and often left her with the children on the family estate at Gaulstown, in Kilbryde, Scotland, while he roamed the London and Dublin royal courts pursuing a bachelor lifestyle.