Ireland's 'Big Houses'
Powerscourt House & Gardens
Ireland has some very large and luxurious residences. They're called the 'Big Houses'. They were built, by the Anglo-Irish aristocracy, beginning in the latter half of the 17th century after the era of medieval castles and the Cromwellian invasion. These super rich Anglo-Irish were granted huge areas of land by the British Crown and became the ruling class of Ireland for hundreds of years. Many of these houses, which showcased the wealth & power of the owner, were destroyed during the Irish Revolutionary Period (1919 - 1923) but many are still around and widely visited today due to their grand style, luxurious period furnishings and extensive gardens.
Drop in for a tour of the house, afternoon tea, a stroll through the garden or even better - stay the night.
House & Gardens
Set against the backdrop of the great Sugarloaf Mountain, Powerscourt is stunning in every season. From the ornate Italian Gardens, the formal walks of the Rose & Kitchen Gardens and the peacefulness of the Japanese Gardens to the Pepperpot Tower and the Pet Cemetery, there are over 200 varieties of trees, shrubs and flowers on this 47 acre estate. Nearby is Ireland's highest waterfall - Powerscourt Waterfall. The Palladian-style house, built in 1741, is now home to a range of craft and interior shops with Irish design.
House & Gardens
This nineteenth-century Victorian mansion is set against the stunning beauty of Killarney National Park. The house stands close to the shores of Muckross Lake, one of Killarney's three lakes. Muckross House was built for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, the water-colorist Mary Balfour Herbert. This was the fourth house that successive generations of the Herbert family had occupied at Muckross over a period of two hundred years. Tour the house, walk through the expansive gardens or along one of the many trails or just relax and read a book. Admission to Muckross House is by guided tour only. The grounds are free of charge.
House & Garden
Bantry House and Garden is a stately home situated on the Wild Atlantic Way overlooking Bantry Bay in the southwest of Ireland. It houses an important private collection of furniture and objects or art. It has been the home to the White family since 1739. Today, visitors can explore the house and formal garden, have tea in the tearoom or even stay the night in the B&B located in the East Wing. The estate is unique since it is still lived in and managed by the family.
The original design of the garden which dates back to the second Earl of Bantry's travels can still be seen today. He transformed the house and garden into a "Palazzo" like those he had seen on the continent.
Other Houses & Gardens to visit
Ireland's first and largest Palladian style house was built between 1722 and 1729 for William Conolly, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. The house formed the centerpiece of the 550-acre estate. Tour (self-guided) the house's ground floor and spend time walking & exploring the massive parklands.
Built in the early 1760s, Castle Ward has two completely opposing decorative styles - one half is built in the classical Palladian style while the other half is built in the more elaborate Gothic style - due to disagreements between husband and wife. The house is open to visit several days a week for a free flow exhibition of the ground floor. No need to book. While here, take time to explore the grounds - one section of which was home to GOT's Winterfell.
Built as a breathtaking castle in 1868, it is now the Abbey and home of the Benedictine community of nuns who arrived at Kylemore in 1920 after their Abbey in Ypres, Belgium was destroyed early during World War I. In addition to the Abbey, the Victorian Walled Garden is roughly 6 acres divided in two by a beautiful mountain stream. The Neo-Gothic church has a 14th century style and was built as a lasting testament to the love of Mitchell Henry for his wife Margaret.