Celebrating the Irish Country House Garden
Posted by IGS
From 23rd September to late November, the IGS is hosting Stepping Through the Gate: Inside Ireland's Walled Gardens. Click here to learn more.
Cappoquin House, County Waterford
Andrea Jameson (Stepping through the Gate, Inside Ireland’s Walled Gardens)
Perched high above the Blackwater river and home to the Keane family since 1735, the present house at Cappoquin was built in the late 1700s on the site of an older FitzGerald castle. The building was gutted by after being attacked by anti-Treaty forces in February 1923; fortunately, then-owner Sir John Keane had been expecting such an assault on his property and had removed many of the house's contents. He immediately embarked on a restoration program, completed towards the end of the decade. The old gardens, however, were neglected and it was only after Sir John's son Richard inherited the estate n 1956 that his wife Olivia turned her attention to the grounds.
Running to some six acres, Cappoquin's gardens are in two parts, the lower being around the house which today was a wide terrace immediately in front of the façade offering views down to the local town and river; prior to the 1923 fire, this had been a carriage sweep. Since in turn inheriting from his father in 2010, Sir Charles Keane the present owner had undertaken further work here, clearing parts of the lower garden to allow for fresh planting, and more glimpses of the surrounding countryside. The land rises steadily behind the house, providing an opportunity amply exploited by Sir Charles and his gardener Mark Windross to create a further series of 'rooms', each with its own distinctive character. Their planting has particularly focused on making sure there is something to see throughout the year, and not just in late Spring/early Summer. Nevertheless, the upper garden is notable during those seasons both for its fine trees, including a fine oak and a Southern Maple raised from seed by Olivia Keane, and for the rich colours of magnolia, camellia, azalea and rhododendron.