Saturday, July 9, 2011
Cork Chapter visit to Limerick on 20th May, 2011
On 20th May, 2011, the Cork Chapter of the Irish Georgian Society made an outing to County Limerick. Our first stop was at Ash Hill Stud in Kilmallock where we were welcomed by Simon Johnson. Having been treated to morning coffee with delicious cakes and bracks, we were given a summary by Simon of the rich history of his family and its associations with the house. Ash Hill was originally built for Eyre Evans (the entrance carries the Evans family motto) and is an interesting mix of Georgian and neo-gothic styles. The present Georgian house was built by Chidley Coote in 1781. Here the important stucco ceilings are similar to those found in the salon at Castletown, County Kildare. In the 1830s Eyre Evans employed Charles Anderson to build the front of the house in a Gothic style that included two large towers. Due to excessive rates in the 1960s these were removed. Simon elaborated on the changes made by his mother which included removing the original staircase and replacing it with a timber paneled family room, the timber having been salvaged from Castle Cor, Kanturk. This resulted in the front door being relocated to the courtyard side of the house. Having viewed the exterior and outbuildings our convoy repaired to the Mustard Seed at Ballingarry for lunch.
A former Presentation convent, the Mustard Seed Restaurant and Hotel represents a tasteful restoration and change of use of a historical house. Our lunch, hosted by proprietor Dan Mullane, was the highlight of our outing. We were treated to salads from the garden and delights such as jellied ham hock, duck confit and goats cheese fritters followed by fresh berries and meringue. The Mustard Seed is highly recommended for a special treat and IGS members may avail of discounted rates. Luckily our lunch prepared us for the cross country zig-zag to Ballinvirick House near Askeaton!
Ballinvirick is an early Georgian house originally the home of the Royce family in the mid eighteenth century. Presently it is in the final stages of restoration by its new owners, the Fleming family who purchased the property in 2004. Our afternoon was delightful and as the sun shone we wandered through the formal and informal gardens. Our hosts, Mark and Kate Fleming, provided home made lemonade and biscuits and were most informative on their restoration project and anecdotes on the house. Relaxed and refreshed we gathered ourselves for our final pursuit.
When we arrived at Curragh Chase House it was late afternoon. From the steps our chairman Kevin Hurley read a synopsis on its history from The Abiding Enchantment of Curragh Chase - A Big House Remembered, by Joan Wynne Jones (neé De Vere), published in 1983. One could only imagine the fantastic interior with, for example, plaster work by John Flaxman. The house was the home of the de Vere family where the famous poet Aubrey De Vere was born in 1814. Sadly the mansion was destroyed by fire in 1941 and only the outer walls remain today. The estate now forms part of a forest park administered by Coillte. Our final treat was tea and homemade chocolate biscuits served on the steps of Curragh Chase. Many thanks to committee members Catherine Fitzmaurice and Dr. Alicia St. Leger for putting the finishing touches to a marvelous day!