Hi Everyone. I’m delighted to be back on the road with you all again. This week I’m giving a rundown of my favorite Irish big houses. The term “big house” was given to the many mansions and country piles that were constructed by the Protestant Ascendancy or “Landed Gentry”. These days, many of them are open to the public and have been beautifully restored. Most of them have impressive gardens too. So let’s get on the road!
Lulu’s Top 6 Irish Big Houses
1. Kilruddery House & Gardens
Our first stop is Kilruddery House & Gardens on the outskirts of Bray about 20 km south of Dublin. In 1539, Sir William Brabazon of Leicestershire was granted the Abbey of St. Thomas in Dublin. This included the lands of Kilruddery. His grandson became the 1st Earl of Meath in 1627 and today, the house is owned by the 15th Earl and countess of Meath. The current house originally dates back to the 17th century. In 1820 it was remodelled and extended in the Tudor Revivalist style.
Today you can take a wonderful guided tour of the house and its 400-year history. There’s also a stunning orangery with an impressive collection of statues. And let’s not forget the gorgeous gardens!
2. Lissadell House & Gardens
We’re heading to my beloved county Sligo now and the stunning Lissadell House on the south shore of Magherow peninsula. Built-in 1830 for Sir Robert Gore-Booth, it was the childhood home of Constance (later Countess Markievicz) and Eva Gore-Booth. WB. Yeats Was a frequent visitor to the house and befriended the sisters. They both feature in his famous poem ” Lissadell”
“The light of evening, Lissadell,
Great windows open to the south,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle”
Today you can follow in their footsteps and take a guided tour of this beautifully restored house. The setting is beautiful, sweeping down to the Atlantic with surrounding woodlands. Benbulben creates a magnificent backdrop. The gardens are also a sight to behold. This is a stunning coastal walk and one of my favourite places to swim in the sea.
3. Bantry House & Garden
So next we’re heading south to County Cork. Bantry House and Garden is one of my favorite Irish big houses. I have also been lucky enough to stay there on a few occasions. The location is beyond stunning. Magnificent views of the ocean on the Wild Atlantic Way. Since 1739 it has been home to the White family. The house remains under their ownership to this day. In 1946, the house opened it’s doors to the public. You can explore the house and stunning formal garden. There’s also top-class bed and breakfast available in the east wing.
4. Farmleigh House
We’re heading back to the capital now and Farmleigh House in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. This stunning Edwardian mansion estate covers some 78 acres. It is also the official guest house of the Irish State. Visitors can take guided tours of the house and its impressive collections. There’s also an art gallery and the pleasure grounds feature sunken and walled gardens.
5. Mount Stewart
Next on our tour of Irish big houses is Mount Stewart in County Down. This stunning 19th-century mansion has been beautifully restored. A tour of the house is a feast for the eyes with stunning collections on show. Mount Stewart also boasts magnificent gardens, voted as one of the top 10 in the world. Among the many themed gardens in the estate is the stunning Shamrock garden, inspired by Irish mythology. The house is also beautifully situated on the banks of the scenic and picturesque Strangford Lough.
6. Powerscourt Estate
Back to county Wicklow now and a place that’s very dear to my heart. Powerscourt Estate is near to where I was brought up. When I was a young girl, this was my “get away from it all” place.
When you visit the Powerscourt Estate, you can see why Wicklow is called “The Garden of Ireland”. The stunning gardens here were first designed in 1731 and cover over 47 acres. They were also voted no. 3 in National Geographic’s top 10 gardens in the world! I love the Italian Gardens where you get the best views of the Sugarloaf Mountain and your visit won’t be complete without a visit to Ireland’s highest waterfall. The house itself is home to the cream of Irish design and it’s no wonder that Powerscourt was voted one of the top 10 Houses and Mansions Worldwide by the Lonely Planet Guide.
So that’s the travels over for another week. I’ll look forward to seeing you next time!
Slán go fóill!