Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Visit to Tarbert House, Glin Castle and Churchill House

Members of the Cork Chapter paid a highly successful visit to Kerry and Limerick on 6th June. The first stop was near Tarbert where Mrs. Ursula Leslie welcomed members to Tarbert House, a fine building dating to 1690. Unusually, it has remained in the same family since it was first built and has a fascinating history. Members were shown the gun and bayonet racks in the hall, a reminder of the need for defence during the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. The house also has associations with well known figures such as the American statesman Benjamin Franklin, Daniel O’Connell, Charlotte Bronte and Winston Churchill. Many of the paintings, furniture and other items in the house had interesting stories associated with them and members very much enjoyed learning more about the Leslie family and Tarbert House.

A short journey into County Limerick brought the group to Glin Castle where another warm welcome was offered by Desmond Fitzgerald, Knight of Glin. He recounted some of the remarkable history of the house and its associations with the Fitzgerald family. A splendid lunch was then enjoyed by members in elegant surroundings. The showers held off long enough for the group to enjoy the gardens, particularly the walled garden with its beautiful flowers.

Then it was back to County Kerry for the final visit of the day to Churchill House near Tralee. Built in the mid-18th century for the Denny family, Churchill has belonged in recent years to American industrialist Fred Krehbeil and his Irish wife Kay. They both made members of the group very welcome, offering refreshments before guiding them around the many pavilions and garden features at Churchill. Superlatives were quickly exhausted as members of the group enthused over the wonderful art collection, the many beautifully designed architectural additions in the grounds (including a cottage orné and library), the imaginative development of the gardens and the overall sense of peace, gentility and culture set in beautiful surroundings. A wine reception at Churchill ended a remarkable and very memorable day which was organised by Kevin Hurley.