Have you been to Doneraile Court and Park?
A very popular visit now that the house itself, the Court, is open to the public. You may make the visit as long or as short as you wish. Perhaps just walk the park. Maybe call to the café for a snack. Visit the recently reopened house.
|You'll find the tearooms here - see the rustic seats. Water for the dogs on the left!|
On arrival, why not take a cuppa in the park's tearooms. It has an outdoor area for when the sun shines. But do take a look at the dining room itself as it is set in the original kitchen area of the big house and is complete with a row of bells used to summon the servants.
|The restored Parterre with the gardeners' cottages at the end.|
After your cuppa, take a walk around the park which has no less than 166 hectares! Much of the park was landscaped in the heyday of Doneraile Court when the St Legers (who built the house in the 1720s) were in their pomp and is not as natural as it may appear. Keep an eye out for the "haha". More easily seen are the groups of deer that are kept in the park.
|The Battle of the Birds.|
After your walk, return to the house for your guided tour, or vice versa. You will need to book in advance during the season. The tour covers the ground floor, going through the various rooms complete with furnishings and decorations, antique carpets, paintings, and sculpture, many of which come from other big houses and quite a few via Cork's City's Crawford Gallery (including the large scale Battle of the Birds in the Dining room).
At this point, you may like to visit the café again for lunch. If you prefer a more expansive menu and a bit more comfort, why not visit the Café Townhouse on the main street. You'll soon spot it as it always looks so well - lots of flowers outside. Sink into those soft seats and sink your teeth into their sumptuous pastries, well into one of them anyhow! While you're on the main street why not take a look at the memorial, outside the church, to Canon Sheehan, another of Doneraile's famous writers.
|One of the oldest items on display in the house. It was called a court as the St Leger|
at the time had the right to hold a court there twice a year.
|The Awbeg river, a branch of the Blackwater, flows smoothly into the park where it is then "guided" to create a small cascade and pool.|
|Chicken wrap in the sun from the tearooms in the park itself.|
Tasty stuff, even if service was a bit on the slow side. Fairly priced, just over 20 euro for 2 wraps, 2 teas.
They have full breakfast and lunch menus.
|The name lives on|
|Excellent café on the main street. |
|Canon Sheehan, a local writer, is remembered here|
|Many students were visiting - with a project in hand - on the day we called.|
|One of the rooms. Do you know the guy with the long legs in the lower middle?|
No one can put a name on him. The full length portrait, we were told, came from the
Elizabeth Arden (yes, the cosmetic guru) collection
|Not too much beauty here. This is Oliver Cromwell.|
Not too sure why he hangs here. But I suppose he did deserve to hang somewhere.
|This typewriter, pictured through its glass case, belonged to Elizabeth Bowen, the local Anglo-Irish writer who lived in|
nearby Bowen's Court and published ten novels and many short stories. A room here is dedicated to her and there are
quite a few photos of Elizabeth, mostly with a cigarette in hand. One of the later St Legers was also fond of the
smoking habit and usually threw the butt to her pet goat who was allowed graze on the lawn. The cattle couldn't get that far, not because of intrusive fencing (there wasn't any), but because they couldn't negotiate the Haha. Wikipedia defines it as a recessed landscape design element that creates a vertical barrier while preserving an uninterrupted view of the landscape beyond. The design includes a turfed incline that slopes downward to a sharply vertical face. It still exists.
Check the OPW site on Doneraile here
For a very informative article on the family, the house, and its restoration, read this Irish Times piece here
|This pic is from an earlier visit.|