As I already said in my previous post, July is a special month to visit the Curraghmore House as it marks the union of the Stag and the Dragon – the marriage of Catherine de la Poer to Sir Marcus Beresford. Sir Marcus was 23 and Lady Catherine 15 at that time, 300 years ago. Despite of different religious upbringing, by the end of the 18th century they produced the most powerful political dynasty in Ireland, raised a large family and rebuilt this beautiful house and gardens. There is a very important lesson to learn from the story about the Stag and the Dragon: we are much better off when we realise that our differences make us strong only when we are united.
During the reign of Catherine and Marcus the best architects and craftsmen were summoned, among them John Roberts ( a very interesting person, worth to look up) who later went to build both the Catholic and the protestant Cathedrals in Waterford. The great courtyard was built, the medieval part of the house was redesigned and restyled. Creative and artistic, Lady Catherine carried out a splendid project. She designed and decorated the Shell House – a small quatrefoil building with curved walls all covered with seashells.
Exotic and rare shells from the distant beaches along with the local clams and cockles adorn the walls creating sophisticated patterns of color and texture. Lady Catherine personally visited the Waterford Harbour and commissioned the captains of ships to collect shells for her. This project took 261 day to complete.
A fine marble statue of Lady Catherine, commissioned by her loving husband and sculpted by John van Nost, stands in the middle of the house. It shows Catherine holding a shell and a piece of parchment with the inscription: “In two hundred and sixty one day these shells were put up by the proper hands of Catherine Countess of Tyrone, 1754”. Lady Catherine was in her fifties at that time.
They died in 1763 and 1769 respectively. There is a large group portrait in the House, painted in 1760, depicting Sir Marcus and Lady Catherine surrounded by their nine adult children. The beautiful monument below was erected in the Clonegam church in their memory. A hundred years later, another beautiful monument was erected at the opposite wall – the one dedicated to Lady Florence.
Let’s take a walk around the gardens.
From here, the hunting parties would leave the courtyard.
The tranquility of this place is surreal – you know that there are people somewhere not far from you, but the sounds feel muted and distant.
A monstrous gall on the tree trunk has to be photographed 🙂
From the other side of the pond we look past the House. Somewhere there on the hill slope Mother Brown is looking back at us.
Someone is looking at us right here too… 😉
I hope you like the story of the Stag and the Dragon. More about the Curraghmore House and the Beresford family some other time.
Have a wonderful week!
Still more to convince me to visit this house. Lady Catherine was obviously a wonderfully creative woman – the Shell House is so beautiful. I particularly love your opening paragraph and couldn’t agree more that our differences can make us stronger. Food for thought for many of us, I think.
Fabulous house and gardens, amazing photos and a great commentary all add up to another great post. Thank you for sharing it, 😀
Millie, thank you so much for your kind words. History holds so many lessons for those who listen.
I will change my schedule and post every second week as I have some health issues and some other commitments too. Have to balance.
When you go to Ireland next time just let me know. I think I will be available from July. Until then I won’t have much of quality life, unfortunately.
I’m so sorry to hear you have health issues, Inese, and send you love and best wishes for your journey through to July next year. I fully appreciate the need for balance. If we make it over there next year, it will most likely be in early September. Look after yourself! ❤
Thank you so much Millie! Hope for a good year. Just posted my New Year’s message, so you can read it if you have some more time. Happy 2018! ❤
It looks so lovely. You’re right about the sounds, I was walking in the park earlier and I knew there were people there but I couldn’t hear them. Beautiful photos as always xx
Thank you so much! Isn’t it amazing about the sounds. It might be related to the small elevations and drops. In the forest, on a flat land, you can hear people approach you from a mile away 🙂
Wow! I love that wall of sea shells! Would love to do something similar but need to gather more shells before 😉
Have a lovely holiday season, Inese! Much love! xxxxxxxxxxx
Thank you Sarah! Any big project has to start somewhere 🙂 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
That’s true! 😄 xxxxxxxxxx
Love, love, and more love this history! Thank you so very much, Inese! Your photos and words are worth a million dollars.
Resa, you just have to go to Ireland some day 🙂 You will LOVE Curraghore. There are many other bloggers of Irish descent, and I have a project in mind for next summer but until then I have to get on my feet and return back to life.
I did enjoy the story – thank you. A shell house – what a great project!
Thank you so much! Hope it is safe where you live. The news from California are devastating. I am not online these days. Just do the basics xx
Sorry I couldn’t comment earlier. This is a place where fantasy and reality so hello to each other. The photos are clever, perfect.
Thank you so much George. I am not online these days either. I will catch up on Christmas I hope.
Wow! 😀 Inese, this is a glorious post – fascinating history and wonderful photos to let us join you at Curraghmore House. A joy to read and delight in the house and gardens. Of course, you had to have the stag photo at the end! Perfect!
Thank you Annika! The stag hiding in the park freaked me out to be honest 🙂 I wasn’t sure what to do, to stay and take a photo or to run for my life 🙂
Comments are closed.