Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Mount Stewart: Dairy & Rose Garden


I motored straight to the Mount Stewart estate, County Down, on an afternoon during the autumn.

Glasshouses near the Rose Garden in 2014

It was a splendid autumnal day. The sun shone for most of the day.

The roof was down on the two-seater.

Rose Garden from the Dairy in 2014

I was eager to revisit the estate's walled garden, dairy and former rose garden.

Entrance to the Dairy and Rose Garden in 2014

The last time I paid a visit to this part of the demesne was about thirty summers ago.

The Rose Garden was originally a cut-flower garden within the 18th century walled garden.

Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry DBE, created the Rose Garden in 1925.

It contained Lady Londonderry's favourite, scented roses.

The Rose Garden was laid out as an Elizabethan garden, with narrow beds and flagged paths.

A large urn stood in the middle of the Garden.

Rose Garden ca 1960

The Dairy was built for Edith Londonderry in order to make butter, cheese, yoghurt, etc.

The roof of the old ice-well on Rhododendron Hill was re-used for the Dairy.

Dairy in 2014

A statue of Hermes stood within a fountain in the middle of the Dairy (above), its purpose being to cool or humidify the air.

The inner face of the Dairy is flat; whilst the outer is curved.

The decorative tiles are of a raised texture and may be Spanish in origin.

THENCE I strode back to the formal gardens surrounding the mansion house.


Charming little hedgehog steps (I originally figured incorrectly that they were for frogs) are in place at several ornamental ponds.

First published in October, 2014.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Dromoland Castle

THE BARONS INCHIQUIN WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY CLARE, WITH 20,321 ACRES

This very ancient family claims royal descent, and deduces its pedigree from the celebrated Irish monarch, 
Brian Boru, who ascended the throne in 1002, and fell at the memorable battle of Clontarf, in 1014.

From this prince descended the Kings of Thomond; of which

TURLOGH, King of Munster and principal High King of Ireland, had, with other issue, Dermot, King of Munster, from whom descended, in 1528,

CONNOR O'BRIEN, King of Thomond, who married Anabella, youngest daughter of Ulick De Burgh, 1st Earl of Clanricarde, by whom he left four sons, in minority, at his decease, when the principality was usurped by his brother,

MURROUGH O'BRIEN, who, repairing to England by the advice of the Lord Deputy of Ireland, in 1543, surrendered his royalty to HENRY VIII, and was, in recompense, created Earl of Thomond for life, and BARON INCHIQUIN to his own heirs male.

His lordship wedded Eleanor, daughter of Sir Thomas FitzGerald, Knight, and dying in 1551, left issue,
DERMOT, his successor;
Teige.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

DERMOT, 2nd Baron, who espoused Margaret, daughter of Donough O'Brien, 2nd Earl of Thomond.

He died in 1557, and was succeeded by his son,

MURROUGH McDERMOT, 3rd Baron (c1550-73), who wedded Mabel, daughter of Christopher, 6th Baron Delvin, and had issue,
MURROUGH, his successor;
Slaney.
His lordship was slain by Dermot Reagh O'Shaughnessy in 1573, and was succeeded by his son,

MURROUGH, 4th Baron (1562-97), who wedded Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas Cusack, LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND.

His lordship fell from his horse and drowned, in 1597, when fording the River Erne, near Sligo, during the Nine Years War.

He was succeeded by his son,

DERMOT, 5th Baron (1594-1624), who wedded Ellen, eldest daughter of Sir Edmund FitzJohn FitzGerald, and had issue,
Henry;
Christopher;
MURROUGH, of whom we treat;
Honora; Mary; Ann.
His lordship was succeeded by his youngest son,

MURROUGH (1618-74), 6th Baron, who was created, in 1654, EARL OF INCHIQUN.

MURROUGH (1726-1808), 10th Baron, was created, in 1808, MARQUESS OF THOMOND.

Barons Inchiquin (1543; Reverted)


The heir presumptive is the present holder's second cousin Conor John Anthony O'Brien (born 1952).

DROMOLAND CASTLE, Newmarket-on-Fergus, County Clare, is considered one of the finest examples of a baronial style castle in Ireland.

According to history, the original castle on the site is said to have dated back to the 11th century, and was more rustic in nature than the existing castle of today, similar in style to Bunratty castle.

Like other castles of the times, it served as a defensive stronghold.

From the time of Morrough O’Brien (the original owner of Dromoland) until the 16th Baron Inchiquin - who still owned the castle in the 1960s - the Inchiquins lived at Dromoland for more than 500 years.

In 1736, a second castle was built in the design of the Queen Anne period with a wing enclosing a central courtyard.

This wing of the castle remains today and is almost a century older than the other sections of the castle.

The present castle was completed in 1826 by the 4th O'Brien Baronet in Gothic style, with four large towers made of a dark blue limestone that was cut from a nearby quarry, and built at great expense for the times.



The Castle is dominated by a tall, round corner tower and a square tower, both of heavily crenellated. There are also smaller towers and a turreted porch.

The windows on the main fronts are rectangular with Gothic tracery.

Inside, a square entrance hall opens into a long, inner hall similar to a gallery, the staircase being at one end; while the main reception rooms are at one side of it.

The rooms have quite austere ceilings with Gothic Tudor-Revival cornices.

The drawing-room was formerly called the Keightley Room since it contained many of the 17th century portraits which were acquired by the O'Brien family through the marriage of Lucius O'Brien MP to Catherine Keightley (whose grandfather was the Earl of Clarendon).

Part of the 18th century garden layout survives, including a gazebo and Doric rotunda.

During the latter portion of the 19th century, the Inchiquin family wealth dwindled due to a series of Land Acts, until Ireland seceded from the United Kingdom in 1921.

Landlords during this time were forced to sell their farmlands, and so the Inchiquins lost their main source of income.

However, they were able to still hold onto Dromoland.

Although the loss of income suffered by the Inchiquins made the Castle difficult to keep, they managed to do so, and the castle was maintained by the personal wealth of the 15th Baron's wife, and afterwards her son, the 16th Baron, until 1948, when they began to take in tourists as paying guests.

Finally, in 1962, the Castle was sold to an American industrialist, Bernard McDonough, whose family were of Irish descent.

Over a period of six months, the castle underwent major renovations and was eventually re-opened as a luxury hotel.

The original style and atmosphere of the castle are said to have been preserved, and the rooms including its stately, baronial country house atmosphere “look very much today, like they did when the Inchiquin family lived there... ".

The original wing is very elegant inside: Guests enter into a two-storey stone lobby (made from the dark blue limestone) that is complete with suits of armour, a large dark wood carved table, elegant rose tapestry covered chairs, and dark red drapes.

On one side, a stone passage and hallway lead to the large, main drawing room of the castle.

The hallway and drawing-room have a high ceiling,deep red and gold wallpapered walls, and is lined with baronial portraits of the barons and former members of the Inchiquin family.

It is said that O'Brien family portraits (on loan) remain on display at the Castle today.
First published in April, 2011.  Thomond arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Lime Kiln

NEIL PORTEOUS, HEAD GARDENER, AND CHARLES VILLIERS, OF THE LONDONDERRY FAMILY, EXPLAIN THE ABANDONED STRUCTURE NEAR THE LOUGH SHORE AT MOUNT STEWART ESTATE


Neil Porteous explains: 

This is an 18th century lime kiln, but castellated to look like a medieval structure.

 Lady Mairi had a wooden shed placed on top and used to do her homework there as a youngster.

You often find lime kilns by water because the limestone was heavy.

There were often derricks on top of the structure to lift off the stone and deposit it down into the kiln.

The process is like charcoal burning, controlling the amount of oxygen drawn into the kiln and depending on the fineness of the grade of lime required may take many days say for plasterers lime or a lesser time for agricultural lime.

The lime kiln probably dates from around 1784 and was a designed feature of the demesne.

The whole Sea Plantation was reclaimed from Strangford Lough, its sea wall and peripheral walk would provide views of the Lough.


The canal which held all the drainage water when the tide was in and released it into the lough by means of a non-return valve a pier for mooring yachts and rowing boats and a boat-house; then you would return by the Clay gate lodge and thence on to the Temple of the Winds.

Beyond that there is a faux chapel as well as real archaeological remains ~ the Gothic cow byre; the cromlech; the ruined abbey; and a Motte-and-Bailey from Norman times.

The idea was to provide curiosities, all of them Gothic in design.

They were laid out by William King, of Dublin, Ireland’s answer to Humphrey Repton.

It is one of his very early commissions and is significant in that the estate is intact and unspoilt.


Charles Villiers continues: 

I saw one of your readers has inquired about the building near the Mount Stewart swimming pool: I can supply some information about the one with the "Gothick" windows and traceries.

Whilst I do not know why it was originally built - in, I suppose, the early 19th century - I do know it was adapted in the 1930s with a staircase; the pouring of a concrete floor foundation on the roof; and the construction of four stone columns to support a wooden summer house; completing this substantial superstructure on the old building for the benefit of my late grandmother [Lady Mairi Bury] when she was in her "teens".


My grandmother used it for her studies on warm summer days and to entertain her friends of her own age nearby to the swimming pool, as somewhere separate from the adult gatherings at the swimming pool itself in the 1930s.

My grandmother's siblings were all much older, so her parents gave her the summer house so she had somewhere fun to entertain the numerous friends of her own age who were invited over.

It is obviously sad that this elevated summer house, and the older building which is underneath, is now largely obliterated - like every other building in and around the swimming pool of Mount Stewart, where so much fun was had by so many for around 50 years.

I believe some mindless moron decided to smash the Gothick window surrounds of the old building with a sledgehammer.

First published in May, 2012. Revised in 2014.