Doneraile Court Opens To The Public For The First Time In A Generation

22 June 19

Doneraile Court, the stunning centrepiece of one of Ireland’s most beautiful estates, today opened its doors to the public for the first time in a generation following a €1.6million restoration by the Office of Public Works (OPW). Minister for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, officially opened the historic house today at an event attended by the local community.

Doneraile Court which was built in the 1700’s by the St Leger family, who remained in residence for 13 generations until 1969. It has been in the stewardship of the OPW since 1994 and following the €1.6 Capital Works Project, including a €350K from the Department of Culture Heritage and Gaeltacht, the ground floor has been fully restored and the house now takes its place as one of Ireland’s most important historic properties.

The restoration works carried out under the Capital Works Project include the total refurbishment of the ground floor including the main staircase giving public access to a visitor reception and an interpretive exhibition area in the three main reception rooms of the house. As most of the original contents were removed when the house was sold in 1969 the OPW conservation team have carefully restored the house, bringing together artefacts and pieces of work that speak to the rich and long history of the house.

 As part of the opening, eleven important works from Crawford Art Gallery's collection go on loan to Doneraile Court. The paintings, dating from the seventeenth to twentieth centuries, will add further context to this historic house.

Officially opening the property Minister Moran said "Today is a hugely significant day for Cork. This house has long left a large imprint in the history of the county, its presence felt for centuries. Preserving and restoring historic properties is crucial to retaining our nation’s heritage and history and plays an important cultural role in cultivating pride of our heritage and past making us unique in the world. In the past 18 months the OPW has restored the ground floor to an impeccable standard and in doing so has opened a new chapter in Doneraile Court’s life."

Doneraile Parklands and Gardens are already one of Ireland’s most significant tourist attractions attracting 490,000 people in 2018.  The house is surrounded by four hundred acres of parklands laid out in the style popularised by legendary landscape designed Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. The park has extensive waterways, water feature while herds of Sika, fallow and red deer around the parklands.

Images from the Event will be available afterwards from Mark Steadman Photography on 086 367 9394.

-ENDS-

For further information, please contact OPW Client Services and Communications at 087 147 0617 or opwcsc@opw.ie

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Notes to Editors

DETAILS ON DONERAILE

Doneraile carries immense cultural weight and is iconic in the North Cork landscape.

The estate, together with other lands, was purchased in 1629 by Sir William St. Leger, Lord President of Munster, who moved into the 13th-century Doneraile Castle. By 1645 the castle had been attacked and burned several times and was so badly damaged that it had to be abandoned.

The present house was constructed in 1725 by architect Isaac Rothery. Over the years various extensions were added such as an octagonal kitchen and game store built in 1869. A dining room built at the same time and a nine bay Gothic Revival style conservatory built in 1825 have since been demolished. Other improvements within the estate included cottages, lodges, farm buildings and stables. On the death of Hugh the seventh Viscount, this line of the family failed, and he was succeeded by his second cousin once removed, the eighth Viscount. In 1969 the house was sold to the Land Commission.

The house has been in the stewardship of the Office of Public Works since 1994 and they have made significant incremental advances during their stewardship, securing and preserving the structure of the house through roof repairs, window replacement and other works to the fabric of the building. In a separate wing adjoining the main house, OPW developed a popular and successful café, which opened in 2012. The opening of the Ground Floor, which marks the 25th anniversary of its stewardship, highlights the OPWs ongoing commitment to the conservation and preservation of this wonderful Building.

Other improvements in the Estate include a new playground, a car-park extension, toilets refurbishment, access links to the town, restoration of the Triumphal Arch and Gates, signage, re-roofing of the Coach House and Gardeners’ Cottages, repairs to boundary walls, repairs to the historic Ha Ha Walls, works to the lake and bridges, and installation of new visitor counters. There is an ongoing programme of tree replanting, landscape maintenance and management.

From its roots in the shadow of a medieval castle, Doneraile Court has survived for three centuries and thanks to the programme of works carried out by the OPW will assist in it going forward in the 21st Century as a public space accessible to all, for everyone to appreciate.    

General Information

Doneraile House will be open to the public by Guided Tour from 24th June to 3rd November 2019

House (Guided Tour only)

24th June – 3rd November 2019

10.00 to 18.00 (Last admission one hour before closing).

Doneraile Estate - open all year

Summer

Monday to Friday 08.00 to 20.00

Saturday, Sunday & Bank Holidays – 09.00 to 20.00

Winter

Monday to Friday 08.00 to 17.00

Saturday, Sunday & Bank Holidays 09.00 to 17.00