Thursday, November 14, 2013

Castletown House, Leixlip Castle and Furness House

The Cork Chapter is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year (2013) and to honour the occasion, a celebratory visit was made to County Kildare.  Travelling by coach, members enjoyed a splendid – if long – day!

The first visit was to Castletown House, near Celbridge, which is both the earliest and finest Palladian house in the country.  It was built between 1722 and 1729 for William Connolly, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, and was designed by Italian architect Alessandro Galilei.  The house was saved for future generations through the personal intervention of Desmond Guinness.  Members enjoyed lunch at the house, before being taken on a very informative tour of the building.  The Irish Georgian Society has had a long association with Castletown and Cork Chapter members admired the magnificence of a building that was so nearly lost to the nation.  It is now managed by the Office of Public Works in conjunction with the Castletown Foundation.

The next stop was Leixlip Castle, home of Desmond and Penny Guinness who provided the group with a warm welcome, delicious refreshments and a fascinating tour of the castle.  The original Anglo-Norman castle was built on a rock at the confluence of the rivers Liffey and Rye and dates to 1171.  It has been altered over the centuries and was acquired by Desmond Guinness in 1958.  Members of the group greatly appreciated the hospitality shown by Desmond Guinness who has contributed so much to the Irish Georgian Society over his lifetime.

The final visit of the day was to Furness House, home of Patrick Guinness, president of the Irish Georgian Society.  He and his wife Louise made Cork Chapter members very welcome and provided an informative and entertaining tour of this attractive 18th century Palladian building.  It was a fitting end to a day that was steeped in historical significance for the Cork Chapter of the Irish Georgian Society.

This tenth anniversary visit to Kildare was the brainchild of Kevin Hurley and was organized by him and Maura Currivan, to whom thanks are given.

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