Kilmacurragh House will be renovated under the renewed National Development Plan!
Posted by IGS
Sir David Davies, President of the IGS, is pleased to note that after 25 years of OPW care, Minister Patrick O’Donovan has announced that Kilmacurragh House, Co. Wicklow will be renovated under the renewed National Development Plan.
It is significant that the renovation, which will include reinstatement of the building's roof, restoration of its windows and doors, and the conservation of external wall finishes, will allow the house built in 1697 [a rare example of the Queen Anne Style in Ireland], to become once again the centrepiece and focus of the hugely successful National Botanic Gardens.
The IGS welcomes this latest development in the OPW's plans, which will complement the recent acquisition of an additional 55 acres of land from Coillte, including the Walled Garden and Deer Park.
The Acton family acquired lands at Kilmacurragh in the latter part of the 17th-century and shortly afterwards constructed a new house in the Queen Anne Style that is attributed to Sir William Robinson (1643-1712), Surveyor General of Ireland. This comprises a five-bay, two-storey over basement house, with an attic storey incorporated into a wide pedimented break-front, and with a steeply pitched roof and projecting eaves. The cornice and doorcase of the house are of timber which Maurice Craig suggests may once have been a common practice though is now rare with the Red House, Youghal, Co. Cork representing one such survivor. Mark Bence-Jones noted that the house had rooms with fielded panelling and a good staircase. Two flanking wings were built c. 1848 on the site of earlier structures and contained a ballroom and dining room respectively.
In the 18th century a formal Dutch-style landscape park was laid out around the house following the fashions of the period, and elements of this, such as the remains of canals and sweeping vistas, survive in the present garden. A great transformation of the landscape park commenced in the 1850s and continued over the next 50 years. With the collaboration of David Moore, curator of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Dublin, the Acton family assembled a remarkable collection of mostly wild origin plants during what was a golden era of botanical exploration. Kilmacurragh was sold by the Acton family in 1944 and over the course of the following half-century the house and gardens fell into decline. In 1996, a 52-acre portion of the house and gardens became part of the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland since when the gardens have been magnificently restored.