The Stag and the Dragon I

Curraghmore House

After having seen Mother Brown we are going to walk straight to the place she is looking at – the Curraghmore House.

This July I visited Curraghmore House hoping to see a portrait of Lady Florence. Unfortunately the only portrait they have is upstairs in the private quarters. Otherwise, it was an amazing visit. If you go to Ireland, make sure you contact the tour guides and book yourself a €15 tour of the main reception rooms, Shell House and the garden. I promise you, it will be the highlight of your visit.

I do my best to remember everything that our guide is telling. Photography is not allowed in the House, and for the same reason I can not give you a detailed account on what I have seen, but I still can share some stories. Like the story about the Stag and the Dragon.

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House was built by the la Poer family after their arrival in Ireland with the Norman invasion in the 12th century. It was a tower house with thick walls, and its facade was adorned with the family crest they brought from Normandy – a sculpture of a St Hubert Stag with genuine antlers, and the crucifix. Later a new house was built around the original tower, and a new stag sculpture carved by Sir Richard Boehm.

In 1701 a girl was born, Catherine, the only child of James Power, 3rd Earl of Tyrone and his wife Anne Rickard. The Earl soon died and left her all the family lands. The Earldom discontinued and her father’s cousin was supposed to move in the house and inherit the Barony, but it came out that he was a Jacobite, and Catherine and her mother were allowed to stay for a while to deal with them later. They stayed in the house until Catherine was fifteen and then the marriage was arranged with her cousin Sir Marcus Beresford, a Protestant, Freemason and politician. He became the man of the house. They got married exactly 300 years ago, on July 16 1717.

Lady Catherine gave birth to 15 children 9 of whom reached adulthood. Their firstborn, George, was made the first Marques of  Waterford.

Curraghmore House

Sir Marcus wanted a bigger house and Catherine knew that he would eventually remove the la Poer family crest and replace it with the Beresford family crest, a Dragon head pierced through the neck with a broken spear. She convinced her husband to rebuild the house so that the front faced Comeragh Mountains, and it was where the Dragon was placed. Until these days, the guests arrive to the front of the house, which is in the back, and both the Dragon and the Stag are still here, standing back to back. But it is not the whole story.

In 1922, during the Civil War, the order was given for this house to be burned. Some men came in the middle of the night, put the straw and left to return before the sunrise and finish the job. When they came back with the torches, the clouds suddenly parted, a full moon came out and the crucifix had cast a shadow on the ground. The men were terrified that they almost burned a Catholic house. They hurried away, and burned the Woodstock House shortly after.

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

View of the Comeragh Mountains from the front porch.

Curraghmore House

Statues in the courtyard.

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

In these apartments there used to be a doctor’s surgery and a teacher’s quarters.

Curraghmore House

Retired butler is still living here.

Curraghmore House

The Stables.

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Tea Rooms.

Curraghmore House

Next weekend we resume our walk around the Curraghmore House.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful week!

63 comments

  1. What a fascinating history this old house has and definitely somewhere I’d love to see. Your photos are stunning, Inese, and I thoroughly enjoyed taking the tour with you. It was a great follow on from your Mother Brown post, too,

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  2. What a history! I know what you mean about the lack of a camera; I experienced the “no photography” tour earlier this year, but I think your collection of the outside–as well as the story–fill one’s imagination to the brim. I’m rather glad you had a cloudy day: the green of the land glows in your pictures, and the stag and dragon both have an eerie sense of old life to their forms. Elegantly done, my dear! xxxxxxxxx

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    1. Thank you so much, Jean! I think the restriction is in place because these people are still living there. No good to display their life online 🙂 It is fantastic that they share their history, and I hope the house remains open for the tours and won’t be auctioned and closed forever like the Mount Congreve house I wrote about. xxxxxxx

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  3. What a fantastic place and fabulous images, Inese. Good job about the cross and the fact that it saved the house. I would have been a terrible shame and many places were not so lucky. Thanks for sharing it, Inese.

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    1. Thank you so much, Olga! Yes, it is amazing that the house has been saved from destruction. It is very special because it is not a museum. Makes such a difference xx

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  4. I was transcended to Curraghmore House, its well preserved quarters and stables, down the memory lane to the story of the stag and the dragon, and the rioters turning tail and fleeing having witnessed the shadow of the crucifix on the grounds. Thank you for yet another soulful travelogue, I have fastened my seatbelt for the sequel.

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    1. Thank you! 🙂 These two posts are all I have stashed for a rainy day. Haven’t taken pictures for a while, except of my grandkids, and haven’t edited anything since September. This year is tough. Hope you will like the rest of the story 🙂 If you ever come to Ireland, don’t read any tourist literature but come straight to the Curraghmore house for a guided tour 🙂 It will be a great start.

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      1. Ah.. 6 blog posts will not be enough to tell 800 years of story. 🙂 I am fairly sure that new inspiration, in visuals and prose, will come to you on your next visit. 🙂

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  5. I love to read your stories about each place you visit. Whenever we visit a place that has a unique story to it, I imagine reliving it when we walk through the dimly lit passages and touch the cold walls. Your pictures look haunting. I’m surprised there’s no legend of a stalking ghost in this house. 🙂

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  6. Inese, such a story here. In fact may,. And your photographs, even of the simplest things had my jaw on the deck. But then, not only does your work always leave no room for my jaw to go elsewhere, it’s just beautiful and from the heart. xxxx

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  7. The house decorated with stag and the dragon statues reminds me of my favorite movie Game of Thrones 🙂 The house could very well be used for shooting for the show too. It aways disappoints a bit when you can take any pictures inside.

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    1. Thank you! Oh I was very disappointed. I didn’t think about recording all the tour, but at least about taking pictures of one or two objects… Yet I understand that it is not a museum but a residence, and after we all leave, the owners come down from their quarters and do their things around the house.
      Yes, the house looks exactly like in the movies. And a lovely part of the tour is the freedom. We can step on the carpets, sit on the furniture, walk around the room while listening to the guide. Some objects are ancient, some newer, but they are all parts of the day to day life. Dining room is ready for the next meal 🙂

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    1. Thank you so much! This is my last set of pictures taken this year. Haven’t taken any photographs since September, except of my grandies. Hope to get better soon otherwise I will have to post some old flower pictures for Christmas 😉

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  8. Love reading about the history of this family and the estate. 15 children! And 9 survived – that was quite an accomplishment during those times. The pictures you were allowed to take are wonderful!
    Have a lovely weekend, Inese! 😄 xxxxxxxxxx

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  9. The story of this house is interesting and the story about the stage and dragon are as well. Love the dragon…it sings to my heart I wonder what made all those scratches on the walls in one picutre that seems on ground floor. Interesting post as always

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  10. Wow. That place definitely looks like it’s worth the visit, Inese. Amazing story and I’m so glad the home didn’t get burned down! What were those people thinking? So much history would have been lost. Thanks for sharing the wonderful photos. 🙂

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    1. Thank you Diana! Infamous burning-downs are still practiced when the countries are going through the periods of instability and violence. So many objects of great historical importance have been lost forever in the fire. Happy for the Curraghmore House. Now I only hope that the next Lord Waterford will settle there and keep the roof on.

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    1. That’s a big family. There was a very successful architect in Waterford in the 18th century and he had 22 or 24 children with his only wife – 8 survived to adulthood.

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  11. Amazing images! What a feeling it must have evoked to walk this historical place. My dream is to one day travel especially Europe to walk “history”. We don’t have historical places like this in the States, for this country is too young to have them. And then there is a general attitude here …. bulldoze down the old to build new. When I was in Italy years ago that is one of the things that amazed me … history in the buildings themselves. Great post and thank you! I SO enjoyed viewing images of Curraghmore House. 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

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    1. Thank you so much! I know what you are talking about, and it happens in Europe too. Curraghmore House is a great example of preservation. The house has been remodeled many times during the 800 years of its history by adding the new to the old instead of demolishing. Now the House looks unique.

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