Our small band of American Irish Georgians had a wonderful visit last week. In the capable hands of Marianne Gorman, a group that included Beth Dater, the President of the American Board of Directors and fellow board members Tom Cooney, Steve Zick, and Patrick Killian, as well as US Executive Director Michael Kerrigan, we had a wonderful tour. Our first day was spent visiting the restored Kilmainhaim Gaol in recognition of the centennial of the 1916 Rising. The next day we were led on a tour of several houses on Henrietta Street, the place to live in Dublin in the 1740s. We were led by the eminent architectural historian, Dr. Eddie McParland, who brought the houses to life for the group. We were fortunate enough to be invited to Mr. and Mrs. Michael Casey's house at No. 13 Henrietta Street, purchased in 1974 and restored in a most thoughtful way to demonstrate the layers of history since the building's construction.
The Irish Georgian Society American tour group enjoying the lunch and hospitality of Cobalt Café on historic North Great George's Street, before continuing on to nearby Belvedere College to see the recently restored Michael Stapleton interiors.
Michael Casey and friends at No. 13 Henrietta St
No. 13 Henrietta Street
Dr. Eddie McParland (Trinity College Dublin) holding forth while leading a tour of No. 13 Henrietta St
The next day we were off the the country. Our first stop was Bellamont Forest, a perfect example of a pure Palladian villa in Coote Hill, Co. Cavan. We were met by a local expert on historic preservation, Mr. Noel Carney, who welcomed us and gave us a tour of the house and grounds. To our great surprise, he also organized a picnic at a neighbouring demense, where we toured the recently restored Dawson Temple that the London Chapter of the IGS has been so instrumental in renovating. We spent the evening at Castle Leslie in Co. Monaghan before departing the next morning for Armagh in Northern Ireland.
In Armagh, we were met by Primrose Wilson, a member of the Irish Georgian Foundation Board of Directors, and her charming husband, Edward. They proceeded to give us a tour of Armagh which included the Episcopal Palace, the chapel on the grounds of the demense, the public library commissioned by Archbishop Robert Robinson as well as the Cathedral Church of St. Patrick. Our tour was followed by the most delightful lunch at the Wilson's house in the country where we spent an entertaining and relaxing afternoon and were sad to leave.
Dinner found us in Belfast at The Merchant Hotel, a 19th century bank that has been transformed in to an elegant five star hotel.
Tour of Baronscourt House with the Duke and Duchess of Abercorn
Lunch with the Duke and Duchess of Abercorn at Baronscourt
The next morning we had a short journey to Mount Stewart where we spent most of the day. We were welcomed by Lady Rose Lauritzen and the head curator Francis Bailey, whom led us on a marvelous tour of the house, which she brought alive with her deep knowledge and sharp wit. Later, the head gardener, Mr. Neil Porteous, led us on a tour of the extensive gardens, including ones laid out by Lady Edith, Lady Rose's grandmother. Lady Rose than hosted an elegant luncheon for the group and entertained us in a most hospitable manner.
Friday morning we set out for Barons Court, the seat of the Duke and Duchess of Abercorn, who welcomed the group for a tour and elegant luncheon. The house was started in 1779 by the architect George Steuart . Later architects involved in redesigning and completing Barons Court were John Soane and Richard and William Morrison. Those that had not visited before were taken with the house and the David Hicks interiors, which looks as fresh and interesting today as when they were done up. After a lovely luncheon in the spectacular rotunda, we were treated to a brief walk around the gardens and bid our adieu.
Lunch with Primrose and Edward Wilson at Marlacoo House, Armagh
The dining room at Tullynally
Staircase at the Temple of the Winds, Mount Stewart
Beth Dater (New York Chapter) at the Temple of the Winds at Mount Stewart
Saturday found us spending the morning at Florence Court, a large 18th-century house and estate located a few miles from Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. The group had a wonderful tour of the house and grounds before making a visit to the gift shop and bookstore and a well earned lunch.
We then found ourselves at Castle Coole, a late-18th-century neoclassical great house situated in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. We had a very well informed volunteer guide who showed us around the main rooms of the house, much to our great delight.
Saturday evening we were the guests of the Earl of Erne, John Crichton and his stepmother, Anna at Crom Castle,situated on the shores of the Upper Lough Erne in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. We were treated to a delightful tour of the house followed by a lovely dinner in the baronial dining room, complete with a roaring fire in the fire place that added to the romance of the evening.
Eliza Pakenham, historian and daughter of Valerie Pakenham of Tullynalley House
Gloria & Robert Turner (Chicago Chapter) disembarking the SS Nomadic steamship
Tom Cooney (Chicago Chapter) and Patrick Killian (Palm Beach Chapter) at Barons Court
On our return to Dublin the next day, we had a delightful visit with the Packenhams at Tullynally Castle, which is a country house situated in County Westmeath, Ireland. The gothic style building has over 120 rooms and has been home to the Pakenham family ( the Earls of Longford) for most of the last 350 years. We were entertained by Valerie Pakenham and her daughter Eliza and had a charming visit.
And then to Dublin Sunday afternoon and the end of a wonderful tour.
Words: Michael Kerrigan, Executive Director, IGS Inc.
Pictures: Michael Kerrigan and Steven Zick
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