Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cork Chapter Visit to Castletownsend

The weather was stunning - warm sunshine and blue skies - yet it was only one aspect of a day that was perfect in so many ways! Cork Chapter members gathered at Shana Court, formerly the Custom House, in Castletownshend on Saturday 22nd May. There a warm welcome was received from the Orfeurs, who also provided refreshments. Tours of this fine 1745 house revealed many interesting features, particularly the Armada chairs.

A short stroll down the sunlit street was followed by a more strenuous climb up the 52 steps to St. Barrahane’s Church. It was well worth it! Not only was the view over the bay beautiful, but the church itself is a gem - and a well kept one at that. Inside are many historic memorials and items of interest, but our group paid particular attention to the Harry Clarke windows. Geraldine O’Riordan gave an excellent talk about Clarke and his artistic skills, helping us to appreciate the aesthetic and historical background to the St. Barrahane’s windows. Having viewed the graves of Edith Somerville and Violet Ross, members of the group strolled through the graveyard and down to sea level to visit Castle Townshend.

Rosemary Cochrane-Townshend welcomed the group and showed members around this historic house, the oldest part dating from about 1650. The long association with the Townshends was seen in the portraits and many other items which were linked to previous generations of the family. Although the temptation was to linger at the castle with its wonderful views over the bay, lunch beckoned at Mary Ann’s Restaurant. So it was back up the hill to the shaded outdoor eating area where a tasty lunch was enjoyed by all.

Our final destination was not too far away, just up the road to Drishane House. This attractive weather-slated house was built in the late eighteenth century by Thomas Somerville and our members were welcomed by the current owners, Tom Somerville and his family. A tour of the house, with its many beautiful features, was followed by a visit to the nearby little museum which contains images and artefacts relating to author Edith Somerville who lived at Drishane. Even her little dog was preserved! Then it was time to explore the grounds surrounding the house with their mix of lawns, orchard and shady woods, all set on the hillside overlooking the sea. It was heaven! Refreshments kindly provided by the Somervilles were the perfect ending to the perfect day!

Thanks to Maura Currivan who organised the visit and to the welcoming hosts who made the Cork Chapter visit to Castletownshend such a success.

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