Conservation Myrtle Grove, Youghal, Co. Cork

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In celebrating National Heritage Week 2022, the Irish Georgian Society is reflecting on projects it has assisted over the last 20 years through its Conservation Grants Programme. Funded through IGS London and IGS Inc (USA), over €1.6m has been awarded during this time.

Day 4: Myrtle Grove, Co. Cork

Although it has been dated to the late sixteenth century, there is little doubt that parts of Myrtle Grove, an ancient house nestling in the seaport of Youghal, date back several centuries before that. A key architectural element in the complex that includes St. Mary’s Abbey and the College, Myrtle Grove was once owned by Sir Walter Raleigh, who used Cork as a base for his expeditions to Virginia. The town wall that bounds Myrtle Grove is high—around thirty feet high, and very solid, and it was this that enabled the house to be built unfortified, with large windows— unusual for the time in Ireland. The house has changed little over the years. Above three gables that dominate the front façade, a roof ridge runs parallel with the spine of the house and is surmounted by five tall chimneystacks. The stack at the north end is massive; the wall where it rises is six feet thick, and almost certainly dates from late medieval times. The windows on the front, facing east, were enlarged at some point; the originals would probably have had stone mullions, as at the Ormond house at Carrick-on-Suir. At Myrtle Grove, the principal rooms are on the first floor, and have the largest windows. The present windows in the house, in the sense of frames and glass, date mainly from the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. All are Georgian in style; those at the rear are hinged while the front windows lack the counterweights needed for sliding sashes, perhaps because the thick walls prevented weight boxes being built. A stone porch protects the front door and also supports a large bay window above: another bay window allows light into the first floor room on the south side. Raleigh referred fondly to his “Oriel window” at Youghal, and a similar window can be found over the front door of his childhood home, Hayes Barton in Devon. The house is today lived in by Iona Murray, whose restoration of the house has been assisted by the Irish Georgian Society.

IGS Grants — 2018: window repairs; 2019: window repairs and electrical refit

Pictures & text by Peter Murray from his exhibition ‘Saving Graces’ (2021)

The work of the Irish Georgian Society is supported through the Heritage Council’s ‘Heritage Capacity Fund 2022’.

Heritage Week