Secret tunnels were discovered beneath the grounds and the ruins of the historic Marblehill House in County Galway, Ireland in the 1990s. The passages seem to date back to the late 17th and early 18th centuries and the hypothesis is that they originally formed a network to manage water. The tunnels are formed out of thick-cut stone slabs, based on the style preferred for the old estate house and surrounding building’s structure, they were erected at the same time as the house and outbuildings down the small boreen adjacent to the ruins of the estate house. The long tunnels are just about large enough for someone to crawl into because that was the only way how any blockages would have been removed during these times.
After discovering the tunnels it was decided to try and find out the purpose of them. Firstly, “to attempt to confirm this is, in fact, what the tunnels were for”.
“Secondly, to find what the condition of the tunnels was and also to see if the long tunnel network extends under other parts of the buildings and grounds.
“Unfortunately the tunnels are too small and remain deliberately hidden to allow any public access.”
Initial exploration started in the 1990s and again more recently. The tunnels go underneath local fields and underneath the ruins of Marblehill House as well as branching off underneath the courtyard behind the ruins.
Damage to Marblehill Buildings
Recently the tunnels were checked for any damage caused by heavy plant machinery that was used under the direction of a bankrupt property developer who fairly recently brought a small part of the old estate, hoping to later capitalise on the ruins. The original cobbled courtyard was ripped up and destroyed as were some outbuildings and arches that were damaged by bulldozers and diggers in 2020, but miraculously on inspection, the tunnels remained intact and still hidden and now completely overgrown.
Only one person is now known to know where the exact location of the tunnel entrance is, which was deliberately sealed up again to preserve and protect it.
Marblehill Magazine thanks and credits the person who shall remain anonymous for the sake of historic preservation, that gave us this information and old tunnel photographs.
3 thoughts on “Secret Tunnels Underneath Marblehill House”
Interesting! I have heard of secret tunnels underneath Marble Hill House when I was growing up as a child. Maybe some kind of escape passageway for the Burke family? It was said to go from the big house towards the Shannon direction. Looking forward to more on these tunnels if you can. Kind regards John W, of Galway
I heard that the person who brought the big ruin of Marble Hill House and courtyard behind it, did so because he heard there was treasure hidden by the Burke’s in a secret escape tunnel underneath the ruined house, which became buried after the big house was burnt down. The fella who brought it was in debt having been bankrupted after running into all sorts of financial problems after not paying workers wages and the revenue for unpaid taxes as well as various banks apparently. Anyway he brought Marble Hill on a couple of different bank loans, now defaulted on.
He brought in a group of cash in hand, non local and non English speaking temporary workers who were told not to speak to anyone who owned the surrounding Marble Hill land. If questioned they would reply in their native tongue and bits of English that they don’t understand you. This way they would not have to answer any embarrassing questions or have any real connection to anyone from Marble Hill area and who would easily vanish again without a trace if needed to. These workers used large mechanical diggers digging out the courtyard and digging out the main pile of fallen stones of the ruins behind a big metal solid gate so no one could see what he was up to. He had tables laid out in the yard with bits and pieces from the Burke’s that he scavenged from the debris hoping perhaps to lead to clues or that he could sell to make something out of it, telling his workers to save everything they came across. Needless to say he found nothing of much importance.
This story was among several I heard that came from a couple of the workers who after a drink too many in a pub went and blurted it out.
I’ve always heard there were tunnels under Marble Hill House since I was a child at a local school near Marblehill, shame diggers and a bulldozer were used to distroy the original courtyard and parts of the surrounding area. The ruins of Marble Hill House, the courtyard and buildings behind it are all protected structures under Irish law
It’s illegal to of used these on such a place, doubt any was sought. What was this eejit thinking? No planning permission at all. Nothing but short sighted greed.