Showing posts with label OPW. Show all posts
Showing posts with label OPW. Show all posts

Monday, September 23, 2019

Have you been to Doneraile Court and Park? A Very Popular Visit.

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 café here - see the rustic seats. Water for the dogs on the left!

On arrival, why not take a cuppa in the park's café. 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).
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 Townhouse Café 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 café 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.
This pic is from an earlier visit.
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

Monday, August 8, 2016

Meath and Ireland’s Ancient East

Meath and Ireland’s Ancient East
Part 1
Trim's mighty castle

Headed off to County Meath and the most ancient part of Ireland’s Ancient East last week. Left Cork city about 9.15am and, having taken exit 9 at Naas, landed in Trim about three hours later, just in time for lunch.

At a small café in Market Street, we ordered a Mezze plate. It wasn't the best - the meat (ham and possibly turkey - it was supposed to be spiced salami!) came from the cheapest packets but the rest was fine. In any event, we were hungry and scoffed the lot.

Walk by the Boyne, with castle in background

Refreshed, we headed for the nearby 12th century castle. We had spotted the substantial ruin on the way in - well you couldn't help but see it and be impressed. Trim Castle also impressed the producers of the film Braveheart as much of it was filmed here.   There is a riverside walk around the area of the castle and we enjoyed that too.

Next on the itinerary was the Hill of Tara. This contains a a number of ancient monuments and, according to tradition, was the seat of the High King of Ireland. The kings were crowned by the Lia Fáil (Stone of Destiny) and you can see that here.

Family on top of Tara
 We had a job finding the hill as the side road we were on didn't have any signposts for the famous hill. But with the help of the Sat-Nav and the signs for the Tara Golf Club we made it to the top. Despite the wet and windy conditions, we enjoyed the visit (there is an interpretive centre in an old church) and the 360 degrees views. The biggest building in view is Dalgan Park, home of The Irish Missionary Union Institute.

Tara's Stone of Destiny (Lia Fail)

One more trip for the afternoon and that was to the nearby Bective Abbey,  a Cistercian abbey on the River Boyne. The abbey founded in 1147 as a 'daughter house' of Mellifont Abbey (near Drogheda). The ruin, near a lovely old bridge, is in farmland and is under the care of the OPW. The cloisters are well worth seeing even if bits and pieces seem to have been chipped away. Again, this abbey was also used by the makers of Braveheart.



After all that ancient stuff, it was time to check in at Teltown House. But, wait for it. Much more history here, including the fact that it was in this area that the ancient Tailteann games, the Olympics of the Irish, took place.




Bective Abbey
Teltown House itself is a 17th century country house a few kilometres from Navan and centrally placed for the main attractions of Meath. It is furnished with many period pieces and decorated accordingly. But it is not stuck in the past. The WiFi here is top notch and you may enjoy a jacuzzi bath! And you’ll find amazing hospitality here as both Renee and husband Bartie are so friendly and so helpful. And their dogs are very friendly too!


After scrubbing up, we headed back to Trim and to a restaurant we had spotted earlier. It is called Franzini’s. Not an out and out Italian as you might expect from the name but a spacious lively restaurant alongside the castle serving up a multi-cuisine menu.

Detail from abbey cloister
 This is a good place for a night out.  And they have a very large menu, covering many styles. Everything from fish pies to steak dishes; pizzas and pasta too; Tex-Mex and Asian, even Caribbean. So that means Noodles, Salads, Burgers, Ducks, Ribs, Fajitas - the list goes on. And yes, they do take-away as well. An international menu but they believe in keeping it local when it comes to produce.


We enjoyed our meal here - service was excellent and very friendly - and headed back to Teltown and a good night's sleep ahead of a busy day with 5,000 year old Newgrange on the agenda - next post!

See also:

Historic Martry Mill on Meath’s Blackwater




Salada del Torres in Franzini's