Tourin House & Gardens, Cappoquin, County Waterford

contact: Kristin Jameson
Tel: 058-54405, 086-8113841
listed website: http://www.tourin-house.ie [1]
Closed due to Covid 19. Listed open dates in 2020: April 1-Sept 30, Tue-Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23, 1pm-5pm
Fee: house/garden: adult €6, OAP/student €3.50, child free.

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Tourin House

On Saturday 4th May last year (2019), after visiting Salterbridge, we crossed the Blackwater over an impressive bridge, to visit Tourin House, the house of the other Musgrave brother. As I mentioned in my entry for Salterbridge, Richard Musgrave of Wortley, Yorkshire, settled in Ireland. He had two sons. The elder, Richard, acquired land from the Earl of Cork and built Salterbridge House in about 1750. The younger, Christopher, settled in Tourin. The website states that Richard Musgrave purchased Tourin in 1780 – he was Christopher’s son.

The house we visited is not the house which Christopher lived in. That house still exists, and is known as Tourin Castle and it is part of the estate. This is a tower house that dates from 1450, according to the National Inventory of Architectural History. [2] Before the Musgraves, the land was owned by the Roches, and then the Nettles. The Roches lived in the towerbuilding (the Landed Estates database mentions a “Sir John Roch of Tourin”). They added a later house built at right angles on to the fortress in the 1600’s, where people who worked on the estate later lived, and today it is still occupied by people who work on the estate! The tower itself is unoccupied, and uninhabitable, I believe. John Nettles, originally from Hereford, settled in county Waterford in the mid 17th century. He was granted land in counties Cork and Waterford by patent dated 1666. The Nettles lived at Tourin and Mahallagh, county Waterford and at Beare Forest and Nettleville, county Cork. [3] John Nettles was High Sheriff of County Waterford in 1670. His heir, also named John Nettles, became a Major in the army and was also High Sheriff of County Waterford (1690-1). His son and heir, John Nettles of Tourin, Mahallagh (or Mahillagh) and Beare Forest, Co Cork, passed the properties to his son, John Ryves Nettles, who sold Tourin and Beare Foreste in around 1780. [4]

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Tourin Castle
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Tourin Castle
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The house built in the 1600s, onto Tourin Castle
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the view of Tourin Castle from Tourin House

Tourin Castle is part of the farmyard complex, which we visited after the house.

History of the Musgraves

According to the website of Timothy Ferres [5], Christopher Musgrave, the younger son of Richard Musgrave originally of Yorkshire who moved to Ireland, settled at Tourin and married Susannah, daughter of James Usher, of Ballintaylor. He was succeeded at his decease by his eldest son, Richard Musgrave (1746-1818), who was created a Baronet in 1782. He was Collector of Excise in the port of Dublin, MP for Lismore and sheriff of County Waterford, in 1778. As a political writer, he collected large amounts of information and evidence relating to the 1798 uprising, and published his findings in 1801 as Memoirs of the different rebellions in Ireland from the arrival of the English, with particular detail of that which broke out the 23rd of May, 1798; the history of the conspiracy which preceded it, and the characters of the principal actors in it. Although the work was detailed, Musgrave’s conclusions were sectarian and polemical. [6] He was fiercely anti-Catholic.

He married Deborah, daughter of Sir Henry Cavendish (who was also an MP in the Irish parliament for Lismore), but had no children, so the title devolved to his brother, Christopher Frederick Musgrave (1738-1826), 2nd Baronet, who married, in 1781, Jane, daughter of John Beere, of Ballyboy, County Tipperary. His son by Jane, Richard (1790-1859) was the heir.

The heir, Richard, 3rd Baronet, married Frances, daughter of the Most Rev. William Newcome Lord Archbishop of Armagh. It was Richard the 3rd Baronet who built the new house, Tourin House, in 1840. He also served as a Member of Parliament for County Waterford. His son Richard 4th Baronet, then his son Richard 5th Baronet, inherited. The 5th Baronet had no sons, so his elder daughter, Joan Moira Maud Jameson (née Musgrave) inherited the Tourin estate and her descendants live at Tourin today.

Tourin House

According to the website:

Tourin House is an Italianate style villa with classical proportions, Tourin House was finished in 1841. Tourin is a lived in House where one of the family welcomes groups and will give tours of the House and Garden.

The Musgraves moved from Tourin Castle to their new house built on higher ground. Mark Bence-Jones describes the new house as a square two storey house with an eaved roof on an unusually deep and elaborately moulded bracket cornice, which is echoed by a wide string-course. The entrance front, as you can see in my photograph, has three bays between two end bays, each of which has a one storey projection with a door and pilasters. The four bay garden front has triple windows in both storeys of outer bays, and a single-storey curved bow in the centre (see my photograph below). [7]

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the back of Tourin House, with single-storey bow and triple windows at either end, both top and bottom storey

The Irish Aesthete writes:

when the Musgraves gave up living in the old tower house and its additions at Tourin, County Waterford, they moved into a new residence on higher ground. Dating from the early 1840s the house’s rendered exterior, its design sometimes attributed to local architect Abraham Denny, is relieved by wonderfully crisp limestone used for window and door cases, quoins, pilasters, cornice and stringcourse. [8]

The eldest daughter (Joan Maura Maud) of the fifth Baronet Musgrave inherited Tourin and married Thomas Ormsby Jameson (of the Jameson whiskey family) in 1920. Their son Shane Jameson inherited, and married Didi Wiborg, a Norwegian. Their three daughters then inherited, and now own, the estate.

We were privileged to meet two of the sisters: Kirsten and Tara. The third, Andrea, an artist, was giving an art class. We were greeted at the door, after we rang the bell, by Rose. She used to live in the gatehouse, and works in the gardens. She gave us an introduction to the house and took our photo in the front hall, and showed us photos of the house as it was before some additions, done, I think, by the current residents’ mother, Didi, who also chose the paint colours for the walls, which are maintained, and planted many of the trees in the garden.

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splendid bifurcating staircase of oak in the front hall

In the sitting room  we came across one of the sisters, Tara. She was vacuuming. They were in the process of trying to fix one of the curtains, as a fixture had come loose from the wall. To rehang the curtain, the entire pelmet must be taken down – it gives one an idea of how much effort is required to maintain a heritage house. We had a lovely chat about the area. We explained that it’s our first time in the area, and she gave us several recommendations, including Foley’s on the Mall in Lismore, where we consequently decided to go for dinner!

I was disappointed not to be shown the upstairs of Tourin House. The owners were so kind, however. We met Kirsten in the hall and she told us of an art exhibition they’d had in the house, where several artists, including her sister Andrea, had two years to produce a piece in the garden, which were then exhibited in the house. The next exhibition of the group will be in Birr Castle.

We then headed out to the gardens, and to the enormous walled garden. The gardens were laid out at the beginning of the 20th century by Richard Musgrave, with the help of his friend, the Cork brewer Richard Beamish [5]. We were accompanied by an affectionate Red Setter. We learned later that one of the sisters breeds and shows Irish setters, and we met more in their kennels. They are lovely natured dogs.

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According to the website:

“A long formal Broad Walk leads from the House to the pleasure grounds and beyond there to the walled garden, which belonged originally to the tower house. Successive generations of the Musgrave and Jameson family (Joan Jameson married Tommy Ormsby Jameson in 1920) have left their mark on the garden. The present owners’ mother, Norwegian born Didi Jameson, was a keen plants woman and the fine collection of trees and shrubs that she planted has now reached maturity.

The Broad Walk leads to the more informal path of the pleasure garden past a colourful array of plants, shrubs and a rock garden to the walled garden, which has supplied the family with fruit and vegetables for generations. Today the Walled Garden is a mix of ornamental and productive planting and is at its best and most colourful in midsummer.

The gardens at Tourin cover over 15 acres including the main garden, walled garden, and extended broad-leaved woodland walks, which lead to the banks of the Blackwater river and Tourin Quay.”

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the Rock Garden

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Near the entrance to the walled garden are some farm buildings, one of which holds Andrea’s art studio.

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by the entrance to the walled garden, wisteria.
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the walled garden, with beautiful irises of many varieties

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At the end of the walled garden we went through a gate and wandered into a breathtaking copse of bluebells.

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After the copse of bluebells, we ran into Kirsten out gardening. The sisters maintain the garden, which is often open to the public. She recommended that we walk to the river. We headed back out but her directions were not exact, and we took three wrong paths before heading back onto one we had already traversed! We met a woman walking her dog and she confirmed that we were on the correct path. She was the mother of the man who now lives in the old house next to the tower.

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We had been only metres from the river already but had trekked left rather than going over a small hillock to the river! Corrected, we found the Quay of the Blackwater, and indeed it was worth it!

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[1] www.tourin-house.ie

[2] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/22902916/tourin-castle-tourin-demesne-co-waterford

[3] http://landedestates.nuigalway.ie/LandedEstates/jsp/estate-show.jsp?id=2841

[4] Burke, John. A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland. 

[5] http://lordbelmontinnorthernireland.blogspot.com/search/label/County%20Waterford%20Landowners

[6] https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/manuscriptsandspecialcollections/learning/biographies/sirrichardmusgrave,1stbaronet(c1755-1818).aspx

[7] Mark Bence-Jones. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.

and architectural definitions

[8] https://theirishaesthete.com/2016/06/18/to-new/

The Irish Aesthete’s “to new” title makes sense when we see his previous entry, “From Old,” which discusses the tower: https://theirishaesthete.com/2016/06/15/tourin/

Salterbridge House and Garden, Cappoquin, County Waterford

Contact: Philip & Susan Wingfield
Tel: 058-54952, 086-8223005
www.salterbridgehouseandgarden.com
Closed until further notice due to Covid 19. [Listed open dates in 2020: Apr 17-30, May 1-31, June 1, Aug 15-28, 9am-1pm but it is NOT open]
Fee: house/garden €10, house or garden only €5, child/student half price, OAP free

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This morning (Saturday 4th May 2019) we headed out to Salterbridge. We took an extremely scenic wrong turn, going up hairpin bends on a road, around county roads and back down via further hairpin bends!   I never knew that Waterford is so beautiful! I joked with Stephen that everyone who lives in Waterford has to swear to keep it a secret how beautiful it is! Everyone I mention it to here says it’s the hidden county! Thank goodness for gps. We found Salterbridge with the gps, and turned into a long driveway.

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I had emailed in advance and they knew we were coming. We were greeted by Susie and her son Edward. Susie gave us a quick run down as to why there are many estate houses in the area: it’s because of the Blackwater River. It runs in from the sea and Cappoquin is strategically situated. Salterbridge and Tourin, nearby, were owned by a pair of brothers, the Musgraves. The original house on this site was built in about 1750 by Richard Musgrave on land which had been acquired from the Lismore Castle Estate, from the Earls of Cork. [1] Richard was the elder son of Richard Musgrave of Wortley, Yorkshire, who settled in Ireland, whose younger son was Christopher, who settled at Tourin. We visited Tourin later that afternoon.

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front, with three bay projecting centre, and one of the two wings. The projecting centre has a glazed porch, a parapet, and plain pilasters between the bays which rise the height of the two storeys.  The wings are one bay, and have a one-storey three sided bow.

Mark Bence Jones describes Salterbridge in A Guide to Irish Country Houses as a two storey house of 1849, built onto the front of an earlier house. [2] It is not known how much of the original house has been retained. Richard Musgrave died in 1785 (an information leaflet which Susie’s husband Philip gave us, tells us that Richard Musgrave’s memorial, by William Paty of Bristol, can be seen in Lismore Cathedral). Musgrave’s daughter Janet, who had married Anthony Chearnley (1716-1755 [3]) of Affane (County Waterford), inherited the property. The house, which in the nineteenth century was at the centre of an estate of over 18,000 acres, passed in turn to their son Richard Chearnley, and it remained in the  ownership of the Chearnley family until 1947, when it was bought by Susie’s husband’s family, the Wingfields of Suffolk.

The 1849 front was built for Richard Chearnley, but the builder or architect is not known. The house is in the “Regency Picturesque” style. Bence-Jones writes that the house extends around three sides of a courtyard, enclosed on the fourth side by a screen wall with an arch. I wouldn’t have been able to tell that the house forms a u-shape, it’s not obvious from the ground. We went around the side after our house tour, to see the courtyard and arch. The arch shows the date of 1849, seen when looked at from inside the courtyard.

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inside the courtyard

The 1849 front consists of a three bay centre, with a parapet (a low protective wall along the edge of a roof, bridge, or balcony) and tall grey limestone pilasters between the bays (a pilaster is a flat rectangular pier or column projecting slightly from the wall – the Irish Aesthete describes these ones as Tuscan) [4][5]. There are three cut limestone steps up to the projecting front door porch, which is single bay, single storey with a flat roof. The house has two storey one bay wings with eaved roofs and single storey three sided bows, as Bence-Jones describes, and Wyatt windows were installed. A Wyatt window, according to Bence-Jones, a rectangular triple window, named after the English architect, James Wyatt (1747-1813).  The porch is glazed and in the Classical style. The wings have pilasters at their front end similar to the four limestone pilasters of the centre block and the bow parapets match parapet of the central porch and block.

The National Inventory website tells us that one side has six bays (west) and the other, four bays. [6]

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four bays on the east side
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six bays on the west side

The interior shows its early Victorian origin. The date 1884 is carved into the oak panels in the hall. You can see the carved oak panel with the date, and the marvellous wooden carved fireplace complete with cherub, on the Irish Aesthete’s website [7] The hall has a bifurcating oak staircase behind a screen of dark wood Corinthian columns.

Susie showed us a quirky feature : the rooms were panelled and there’s a gap between two doors, which her children called “the elevator.” That is, on leaving one room you can close the door behind you, and the room you are entering has another door, so if both are closed, you stand in a little space like an elevator! We first entered the dining room, and her husband Philip then joined us. His parents, the Wingfields, bought Salterbridge House. They came from England, and were cousins of the Wingfields of Powerscourt Estate in Enniskerry. [8] Philip pronounced it “Poerscourt” because apparently it was initially named after the de la Poer family, who lived in Wicklow.

We next entered the drawing room, which has ceiling decoration of scrolls and shields.

In 1916 Captain Henry John Chearnley (1882-1935) succeeded to the estate, from Major Henry Philip Chearnley (1852-1916), who was a Justice of the Peace and a Deputy Lieutenant. He died in 1935. In 1940, Philip told us, the house was requisitioned for the army: being in such a strategic position made it vulnerable to an invasion by the Germans. Mrs. Chearnley and her son were given just twenty-four hours notice to leave the house.  In 1947, it was sold to the Wingfields.

Philip showed us features of the house. I told him of my blog. He told us of the history of the house and of his family, the Wingfields. We were delighted to learn that he is distantly related to Thomas Cromwell (see my Powerscourt townhouse entry)! Naturally this current indirect descendent Philip read Hillary Mantel’s books, Wolf Hall and its sequel, and he told us a third is to follow! Fantastic! I can’t wait, as I read and loved them too, after watching the brilliant rendition of Cromwell by Mark Ryland! [9]

Another ancestor of Philip’s, on his paternal grandmother’s side, the Paulets, or Pouletts as they later spelled it, from Somerset, was involved in the unification of Scotland with England in the time of Queen Anne. “Not under James I?” I asked. No, I learned, they were still two separate  countries then. It was under Anne that the Scots agreed to unification, as they had run out of money, Philip told us. It’s lovely to learn history in such a conversational way, chatting with home owners about their ancestors. We were shown some beautiful rooms upstairs,  then we headed out to explore the gardens.

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We have been blessed with the weather. We admired the flowering rhododendrons, magnolias and camelias. According to a website, the trees include most notably four splendid Irish yews, a cork oak, an Indian horse chestnut and a single leaved ash.

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The house has a gorgeous view, and a road used to run along the front of the house, as one can see by the fantastic bridge to one side of the front of the house – the bridge for which Salterbridge was named.

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the bridge of Salterbridge, a single arched bridge over a stream

It was nearly 2pm at this stage so we fetched our bagels from the car, sat on the bridge to lunch. Stephen rang ahead to Tourin House to let them know that we were coming for a visit.

[1] http://www.lismoreheritagetown.ie/comunity/salterbridge-house-gardens/

[2] Mark Bence-Jones. A Guide to Irish Country Houses. (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.

[3] http://lordbelmontinnorthernireland.blogspot.com/2014/08/salterbridge-house.html

Anthony Chearnley left Salterbridge to his son, Richard. Richard died childless in 1791, so the estate passed to his brother, Anthony (1762-1842). He was High Sheriff of County Waterford. His first son died unmarried and his second son, Richard (1807-1863), succeeded to the estate in 1842 and also followed in his father’s footsteps to become High Sheriff of County Waterford. He married Mary, daughter of Henry Cotton, Archdeacon of Cashel. It is this Richard who built the addition to Salterville. Their oldest son, Richard Anthony Chearnley, died young, and was only thirteen years old when he inherited the property. He died at the age of 29 in 1879, and was succeeded by his younger brother, Henry Philip Chearnley (1852-1916). He too was High Sheriff of County Waterford, and a Major in Waterford Artillery Militia. He was succeeded by his son, Henry John Chearnley, who died in 1935. In 1940, when the house was requisitioned, it must have been Henry John’s wife, Dora, daughter of Henry Lamont, who lived in the house, along with their children.

[4] https://theirishaesthete.com/2016/02/27/a-blackwater-beauty/

[5] architectural definitions

[6] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/22902114/salterbridge-house-salterbridge-cappoquin-co-waterford

[7] https://theirishaesthete.com/2015/08/29/salterbridge/

[8] see my entry for Powerscourt Townhouse, 59 South William Street, Dublin 2

[9] There is more about the Wingfield family on the Powerscourt estate website
https://powerscourt.com/bid154226the-lineage-of-the-wingfield-family-at-powerscourt-estate-wicklow

It says:

The Viscounts Powerscourt were the second largest landowners in County Wicklow, with over 40,986 acres. Prior to coming to Ireland, the family lived at Wingfield Castle in Suffolk in the U.K. Sir Richard Wingfield (1550-1634) was made Marshal of Ireland by Elizabeth I; and by James I, for his military achievements and was created Viscount Powerscourt in 1618.

“The title ‘Viscount Powerscourt’ expired in 1634, on Lord Powerscourt’s death, without any male children; but was conferred, in 1665, on his male heir, Folliott Wingfield (1642-1717), 1st Viscount of the 2nd creation; who also died without male issue, in 1717, when the title became extinct. Then, Powerscourt Estate descended to:

“Edward Wingfield, ESQ, knight, of Carnew, County Wicklow,
A distinguished soldier under the Earl of Essex, and a person of great influence and power in Ireland. He married Anne, daughter of Lord Cromwell and sister of Thomas, 1st Earl of Ardglass.

 

Huntington Castle, County Carlow

In the past, in August 2016, I visited Huntington Castle in Clonegal, County Carlow.

Contact person: Alexander Durdin Robertson, tel 086 0282266

Open in 2020: Feb 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29, Mar 1, Apr 11-13, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-31, Dec 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 11am-5pm

[1]

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It’s magical! And note that you can stay at this castle – see their website!

Huntington Castle stands in the valley of the River Derry, a tributary of the River Slaney, on the borders of Counties Carlow and Wexford, near the village of Clonegal. Built in 1625, it is the ancient seat of the Esmonde family, and is presently lived in by the Durdin-Robertsons. It passed into the Durdin family from the Esmonde family by marriage in the nineteenth century, so actually still belongs to the original family. It was built as a garrison on the strategically important Dublin-Wexford route, on the site of a 14th century stronghold and abbey, to protect a pass in the Blackstairs Mountains. After fifty years, the soldiers moved out and the family began to convert it into a family home. [2]

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A History of the house and its residents

The castle website tells us that the Esmondes (note that I have found the name spelled as both ‘Esmond’ and ‘Edmonde’) moved to Ireland in 1192 and were involved in building other castles such as Duncannon Fort in Waterford and Johnstown Castle in Wexford. Laurence Esmonde was a convert to Anglicanism and served in the armies of British Queen Elizabeth I and then James I . He fought in the Dutch Wars against Spain, and later, in 1599, he commanded 150 foot soldiers in the Nine Years War, the battle led by an Irish alliance led mainly by Hugh O’Neill and Tyrconnell (Hugh Roe O’Donnell) against the British rule in Ireland. In reward for his services,  he was raised to the peerage in 1622 as Baron of Limerick (I was confused about this, but there is a Limerick, or Limbrick, in County Wexford, according to wikipedia, and it is now called Killinierin), and it seems that a few years after receiving this honour he built the core of the present Huntington Castle: a three-storey fortified tower house, which forms the front facing down the avenue, according to Mark Bence-Jones in A Guide to Irish Country Houses. [3]

 

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Huntington Castle, Clonegal, County Carlow, the view when one enters the courtyard from the avenue. There is an irregular two storey range with castellated battlements and a curved bow and battlemented gable, and the earlier building, the fortress, rises above them.

This original tower-house is made of rough-hewn granite. The first alterations and additions to that core were made around 1680 by the grandson of Laurence, also a Sir Laurence Esmonde. In her discussion of marriage in Making Ireland English, Jane Ohlmeyer writes that for the Irish, legitimacy of children didn’t determine inheritance, and so attitudes toward marriage, including cohabitation and desertion, were very different than in England. She writes that the first Baron Esmonde behaved in a way reminiscent of medieval Gaelic practices when he repudiated his first wife and remarried without a formal divorce. Laurence met Ailish, the sister of Morrough O’Flaherty (note that Turtle Bunbury tells us that she was a granddaughter of the pirate queen Grace O’Malley!) on one of his expeditions to Ulster, and married her. However, after the birth of their son, Thomas, she returned to her family, fearing that her son would be raised as a Protestant. Esmonde went on to marry Elizabeth Butler, a granddaughter of the ninth earl of Ormond (daughter of Walter Butler, and she was already twice widowed). He had no children by his second marriage and despite acknowledging Thomas to be his son, he did not admit that his first marriage was lawful and consequently had no official heir and his title Baron of Limerick became extinct after his death. Although his son did not inherit his title, he did inherit his property. [4] Baron Esmonde governed the fort of Duncannon from 1606-1646 when he died after a siege of the fort by General Preston of the Confederates, who considered Esmonde a defender of the Parliamentarians (i.e. Oliver Cromwell’s men, the “roundheads”). [5]

Thomas Esmonde did not inherit his father’s title but was himself awarded a Baronetcy, and became Baronet Esmonde in 1629. It was the 2nd Baronet, Laurence, who made the first additions to Huntington Castle around 1680, and who named it “Huntington” after the Esmonde’s “ancestral pile” in England [6]. A wing was constructed by the latter’s grandson (yet another Sir Laurence, 4th Baronet) around forty years later in 1720. The castle, as you can see, is very higgeldy piggedly, reflecting the history of its additions.

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the bow was probably added by the descendent Manning Durdin-Robertson.

Brendan O’Neill tells us in his book Irish Castles and Historic Houses that the property was inherited by Alexander Durdin in 1849, whose grand-uncle had married the two daughters and co-heirs of Sir John Esmonde, third Baronet, as his two successive wives. This is how the house passed from Esmondes to Durdins.

According to the Irish Historic Houses website, the Durdin family were long established in County Cork, where they had acquired the estates of William Penn (founder of Pennsylvania) [2]. In 1880, Helen, the Durdin heiress who inherited the castle, married Herbert Robertson, Baron Strathloch (a Scots feudal barony) and MP for a London borough. Together they made a number of late Victorian additions at the rear of the castle while their professional architect son, Manning Durdin-Robertson, an early devotee of concrete, carried out yet further alterations in the 1920s.

Manning Durdin-Robertson married Nora Kathleen Parsons, from Birr Castle. She wrote The Crowned Harp. Memories of the Last Years of the Crown in Ireland, an important memorial of the last years of English rule in Ireland [7]. I ordered a copy of the book from my local library! It’s a lovely book and an enjoyable rather “chatty” read. She writes a bit about her heritage, which you can see in my entry on another section 482 castle, Birr Castle. She tells us about life at the time, which seems to have been very sociable! She writes a great description of social rank:

The hierarchy of Irish social order was not defined, it did not need to be, it was deeply implicit. In England the nobility were fewer and markedly more important than over here and they were seated in the mansions considered appropriate….
The top social rows were then too well-known and accepted to be written down but, because a new generation may be interested and amused, I will have a shot at defining an order so unreal and preposterous as to be like theatricals in fancy dress. Although breeding was essential it still had to be buttressed by money.

Row A: peers who were Lord or Deputy Lieutenants, High Sheriffs and Knights of St. Patrick. If married adequately their entrenchment was secure and their sons joined the Guards, the 10th Hussars or the R.N. [Royal Navy, I assume]
Row B: Other peers with smaller seats, ditto baronets, solvent country gentry and young sons of Row A, (sons Green Jackets, Highland regiments, certain cavalry, gunners and R.N.).
Row A used them for marrying their younger children.
Row C: Less solvent country gentry, who could only allow their sons about £100 a year. These joined the Irish Regiments which were cheap; or transferred to the Indian army. They were recognised and respected by A and B and belonged to the Kildare Street Club.
Row D: Loyal professional people, gentlemen professional farmers, trade, large retail or small wholesale, they could often afford more expensive Regiments than Row C managed. Such rarely cohabited with Rows A and B but formed useful cannon fodder at Protestant Bazaars and could, if they were really liked, achieve Kildare Street.

Absurd and irritating as it may seem today, this social hierarchy dominated our acceptances.

I had the benefit of always meeting a social cross section by playing a good deal of match tennis…. The top Rows rarely joined clubs and their play suffered….There were perhaps a dozen (also very loyal) Roman Catholic families who qualified for the first two Rows; many more, equally loyal but less distinguished, moved freely with the last two.

Amongst these “Row A” Roman Catholics were the Kenmares, living in a long gracious house at Killarney. Like Bantry House, in an equally lovely situation.

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We were not allowed to take photos inside, except for in the basement, but you can see some pictures on the official website [1] and also on the wonderful blog of the Irish Aesthete [8].

There were wonderful old treasures in the house including armour chest protections in the hallway along the stairs, which was one of the first things to catch my attention as we entered. We went up a narrow stairway linked as Bence-Jones describes “with wainscot or half-timbered studding.”

There are some noteable structures inside the building, as Robert O’Byrne notes. “The drawing room has 18th century classical plaster panelled walls beneath a 19th century Perpendicular-Gothic ceiling. Some passages on the ground floor retain their original oak panelling, a number of bedrooms above being panelled in painted pine. The dining room has an immense granite chimneypiece bearing the date 1625, while those in other rooms are clearly from a century later.” [8]

Another drawing room is hung with tapestry, which would have kept the residents a bit warmer in winter. There are beautiful stuccoed ceilings, which you can see on the website.

O’Neill adds that Huntington was one of the first country houses in Ireland to have electricity, and in order to satisfy local interest a light was kept burning on the front lawn so that the curious could come up and inspect it.

I loved the light and plant filled conservatory area, with a childlike drawing on one wall. The glass ceiling is draped in grape vines.

We were allowed to take photos in the basement, which used to house dungeons, and now holds the “Temple of Isis.” It also contains a well, which was the reason the castle was situated on this spot. In the 1970s two of the four children of Manning Durdin-Robertson, the writer and mystic Olivia Durdin-Robertson, who was a friend of W.B. Yeats and A.E. Moore, and her brother Laurence (nicknamed Derry), and his wife Bobby, converted the undercroft into a temple to the Egyptian Goddess Isis, founding a new religion. In 1976 the temple became the foundation centre for the Fellowship of Isis [9]. I love the notion of a religion that celebrates the earthy aspects of womanhood, and I purchased a copy of Olivia Durdin-Robertson’s book in the coffee shop. The religion takes symbols from Egyptian religion, as you can see in my photos of this marvellous space:

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our tour guide
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there is a well here

Turtle Bunbury has a video of the Fellowship of Isis on his website [6]! You can get a flavour of what their rituals were like initially. Perhaps they are similar today. The religion celebrates the Divine Feminine.

After a tour of the castle, we then went to the back garden. According to its website,

The Gardens were mainly laid out in the 1680’s by the Esmondes. They feature impressive formal plantings and layouts including the Italian style ‘Parterre’ or formal gardens, as well the French lime Avenue (planted in 1680). The world famous yew walk is a significant feature which is thought to date to over 500 years old and should not be missed.

Later plantings resulted in Huntington gaining a number of Champion trees including more than ten National Champions. The gardens also feature early water features such as stew ponds and an ornamental lake as well as plenty to see in the greenhouse and lots of unusual and exotic plants and shrubs.

The Irish Aesthete also discusses this garden in another blog entry [10]. He tells us that the yew walk, which stretches 130 yards, dates from the time of the Franciscan friary in the Middle Ages! The “stew ponds” would have held fish that could be caught for dinner.

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500 year old yew walk

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After the garden, we needed a rest in the Cafe.

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I loved the arrangement of plates on the walls of the cafe!

I was also thrilled by the hens who roamed the yard and even tried to enter the cafe:

There is space next to the cafe that can be rented out for events:

A few plants were for sale in the yard. A shop off the cafe sells local made craft, pottery, and books. The stables and farmyard buildings are kept in good condition and buzzed with with the business of upkeep of the house and gardens.

 

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what is this tall flower?

[1] https://www.huntingtoncastle.com/

[2] The website http://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Huntington%20Castle says it was built on the site of a 14th century stronghold and abbey, whereas the Irish Aesthete says it was built on the site of a 13th century Franciscan monastery.

[3]  Bence-Jones, Mark. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.

[4] p. 171, Ohlmeyer, Jane. Making Ireland English. The Irish Aristocracy in the Seventeenth Century. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2012. See also pages 43, 273, 444 and 451.

[5] Dunlop, Robert. ‘Edmonde, Laurence.’ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edition volume 18, accessed February 2020. https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Esmonde,_Laurence_(DNB00)

[6] http://www.turtlebunbury.com/history/history_houses/hist_hse_huntington.html

[7] Robertson, Nora. The Crowned Harp. Memories of the Last Years of the Crown in Ireland. published by Allen Figgis & Co. Ltd., Dublin, 1960.

[8] https://theirishaesthete.com/2017/01/23/huntington/

[9] http://www.fellowshipofisis.com/

[10] https://theirishaesthete.com/2016/11/14/light-and-shade/

Irish Historic Homes