One of the bonuses of working part time at the moment is that I get to see some of the historical sights that our lovely county of Waterford has to offer at off peak times. I had never heard of Curraghmore House so when a friend suggested a trip there I was curious, and a group of us headed out there for a Sunday drive.
I didn’t bring the camera as I haven’t charged it in about three years, so any photographs I’ve taken below are with my Samsung Galaxy A5.
Currently the home of the ninth Marquis of Waterford and his wife, Lady Waterford, Curraghmore House and Gardens is in the process of being revamped with plans to develop the estate and promote tourism. Plays have been staged on the lawns and Mary Black has played a concert there.
The house is situated just outside Portlaw. From the gates at the main road, the driveway to the house winds through the tree lined estate, passing a training ground for horses on one side and the Clodagh River on the other. The driveway ends at another set of gates that open onto a huge courtyard surrounded by buildings that include a café, and toilets.
One of the immediately striking features of the house is the stag atop the house with a crucifix mounted on his head. St. Hubert’s stag is apparently a very lucky family emblem as it saved the house from being burnt by the IRA one night in the 1920s. The story goes that when the moon came out from behind the clouds and lit up the stag and the cross, it was seen as a sign and the house was left alone.
Similar statues to the one below can be seen all around the courtyard.
The grounds are immaculately kept. These stone carvings on either side of the steps leading from the right hand side of the house into the garden are fascinating.
One of the most interesting features of Curraghmore House is the shell house in the garden built in 1754 by Catherine Countess of Tyrone.
Inside, the walls and roof are inlaid with thousands of shells of all different varieties. It apparently took 261 days for Lady Catherine La Poer to build the shell house and she found the time to have fifteen children too.
This is where I would have needed my Canon camera as the quality of photos from my phone just isn’t as good.
We were lucky with the weather. The sun stayed out for an hour as we walked around the gardens admiring the layout and the colourful blooms of tall lupins, the crocus chrysanthus spread like carpet under the trees, and the eye catching blue of the hydrangeas outside the shell house.
Although we took a tour of the house we couldn’t take any photographs inside. That’s ok. It’s also the home of Lord and Lady Waterford, and who wants a bunch of strangers taking photos of your home and putting them up on the internet?
The tour of the house is well worth taking and very interesting. The tour guide is the ex-butler of the previous Marquis and he has a genuine interest in the history of the house and the family, and is more than willing to answer any questions that visitors have. The original house is 800 years old. Its interior was developed by James Wyatt, English architect, and the plaster ceilings and walls were painted by Peter de Gree. Family portraits adorn the walls, and the most fascinating objects and memorabilia are collected on marble benches and wooden tables throughout the rooms. Items such as elephant tusks and feet, a huge glass display box with three white lions’ heads, and a Victorian pushchair with moving horses are just some of the unusual items to be seen.
The tour of the house and gardens costs just €15 but you can avail of an afternoon tea as part of a three day Belmond Grand Hibernian Train Journey at a cost of €3,000 if you’d prefer an extended luxury break.