Doneraile is a small village in North County Cork, known in days gone by as the Gentleman’s Village. The lush, fertile land surrounding it, made the area a magnet for the landed gentry of Ireland.
Today we are going to take a snowy tour of Doneraile Park, the once stately home of the St. Leger family and Lord Viscount Doneraile.
Maureen, a reader of my blog,who lives in Doneraile, graciously shared some of her wonderful photos for this post today. There was plenty of snow in Cork and Kerry last week and Maureen seized the opportunity to capture some magnificent shots.
Doneraile is only a few miles from Glenanaar where my father was born. I spent many summers in this area, so it forms an important part of my childhood memories of Ireland.
Here is an extract from SLATER’S NATIONAL DIRECTORY OF IRELAND 1846 FOR DONERAILE, COUNTY CORK:
“The neighbourhood is studded with numerous seats of the gentry;
among these, the most conspicuous is Doneraile Park,
distinguished by its extent and beauty; and the mansions, a
handsome and substantial edifice, seated on an eminence, is the
occasional residence of Lord Viscount Doneraile.”
Lord Viscount Doneraile resided here intermittently, obviously living in England most of the time, in typical absentee landlord fashion.
His Irish estate was truly magnificent, with the “big house”, Doneraile Court, built on a slope overlooking the Awbeg River.
The estate landscaping was on a grand scale with the house as center piece.
Spectacular vistas radiate out across the great lawn towards the river, which was ponded with weirs to create large pools of water. Groves of trees were planted to highlight scenic landscapes.
Lord Viscount Doneraile was a member of the Norman family, the St. Legers who accompanied William the Conqueror to England from France. Sir Anthony St. Leger was first sent to Ireland by Henry VIII to oversee dissolution of the Irish monastries.
In 1636 his descendent purchased vast lands in Doneraile for the sum of 300 pounds, which probably was equivalent to millions of today’s euros or dollars.
Today Doneraile Park consists of 400 acres. Its sweeping landscapes are an enduring reminder of long past aristocratic grandeur.
Historic demesnes reflect a bleak era for the Irish people, but today the wheel has turned full circle, with many old homes and gardens converted to public parks. Today regular Irish people enjoy the beauty of Doneraile Wildlife Park, walking the paths and woodlands created by their former landlords, and occasionally bumping into the resident deer.
The old residence remains closed with only the gardens open to the public. The house will open at some point in the future when it is fully restored.
A big thank you to Maureen for sharing her beautiful photographs with us today. Hopefully we can revisit the park in the spring, summer and fall, to see how the landscape changes with the seasons, and once again enjoy the beauty of County Cork.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom