We had a very enjoyable outing to Curraghmore House and Gardens outside Portlaw, Co. Waterford on Thursday, 13th June. Over 30 of our members travelled by bus and by car. Though weatherwise it wasn’t a great day it didn’t dampen our excitement or enthusiasm.

Our bus driver, Pat, decided on the scenic route to Portlaw and we passed through villages and townslands that we only knew by name. It added something extra to the day. We were behind schedule because of this and the fresh scones, tea and coffee were more than welcome when we arrived at our destination.

Curraghmore House is the ancestral home of the 9th Marquis of Waterford and the de la Poer-Beserford family have lived there for 800 years. After our refreshments we gathered in the courtyard where our guide, Evelyn, introduced us to the history of the house as it evolved over the hundreds of years. With 2,500 acres of formal gardens, woodlands and grazing fields it is among the largest private demesnes in Ireland. Click into the first photo and use > arrow to scroll through them.

 

From the courtyard we entered the house through the rear but this would originally have been the main entrance. At this level we were in the original tower house dating from the 15th century. From here we ascended to the family rooms – dining room, inner hall, yellow drawing room, blue drawing room and the billiard room. This part of the house dates from the middle of the 18th century.

Evelyn, our guide, was most engaging and through the family portraits recounted the history of the house and the contribution of the various family members to its development. It was just fascinating to see each of the rooms laid out as they would have been in times past with many of the family’s personal objects on display. The house has only been open to the public for the last 5 years from when the 9th Marquis inherited the title. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take photos of the interior.

From the house we were guided to the Shell House which is the creation of Catherine Countess of Tyrone. The interior walls are completely covered in shells glued to the walls with a glue that is believed to be a mixture of ox blood and hooves that had been boiled down. The entire work is attributed to the Countess  and in the centre of the house is a life – size white marble statue of the countess and in her right hand is a scroll with these words:

“In two hundred and sixty one days these shells were put up by the proper hands of the Rt. Hon Cathne Countess of Tyrone 1754.”

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After our visit to the shell house we were free to explore the rest of the gardens. Unfortunately the weather cut short this part of our visit. The following will give you an idea of the beauty of the grounds. The formal gardens are laid out in the style of Versailles. I was struck by the beauty and magnificence of the trees.

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The weather didn’t allow us to visit Fenor Bog or Annestown Beach so we decided to visit nearby Dovehill for some retail therapy. Our evening culminated with a lovely meal in Kilkieran Cottage.

Many thanks to Marian for all her work in arranging the trip and to the members who travelled on the day.

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