The last butler of Curraghmore house

Last weekend I went for a walk along the river Clodiagh in the Curraghmore estate to take pictures for this blog dedicated to the last butler of Curraghmore and his lovely wife who finally retired and left for Portugal this summer.

Who says you cannot change your career and your whole life at the age of 50+? “Born and raised” in Transvaal, South Africa”, Basil Croeser moved to Ireland in 1998 and got a job as butler to 8th Marquess of Waterford. Good old times when the notorious “work experience” was not required: there were no butlers in South Africa, not at that time anyway.

Curraghmore

Basil served as butler for 12 years. Some of his duties included “seeing to His Lordship’s general well being; preparing and serving light meals; maintaining stock and equipment; maintaining and winding 17 antique clocks”. When His Lordship’s health started to deteriorate, Basil retired from his butler’s duties, and a new, younger butler was hired. Basil was offered the role of a tour guide in the Curraghmore estate.

Old Lord Waterford passed away in 2015, and is remembered as a good and kindly neighbor. Current Lord Waterford doesn’t have a butler. That era is gone.

I have been in the House before, and I know the script, but that was a special day, and sadness was in the air as the last butler took us on his farewell tour.

Curraghmore

Basil’s tours and his unique knowledge will be missed.

The bags were already packed, as well as twenty years of memories. I wish them both a long and happy retirement!


These photographs I took for Basil and Colleen with a huge thank you for all they have done! 🙂 I came there early, less than an hour after the sunrise last Sunday, and parked outside the gate. The air was crisp and the sun just showed up from behind the forest.

Curraghmore

Suddenly the mist started to rise, first from the river, then from just about everything!

Curraghmore

In front of my eyes, the rippling steam rose from the grass. It was so thick that the sun rays couldn’t get through it.

The tree branches covered with moss started steaming too!

The sun rose higher and lit the tree tops.

What a magnificent morning!

Curraghmore

I crossed the bridge and walked along the river. A strange object caught my eye. It’s a tail! I quickly checked my settings.

squirrel

Red squirrel run too far and too high from me, but I noticed a big sweet chestnut in his mouth. I only know one such tree nearby, but it is on the other side of the river. What a brave little fella.

squirrel

Young pheasants are having a double date. There are hundreds of them in the woods.

pheasants

This one started to walk towards me – for a treat or for a fight?

pheasant

He stood just a few steps away, looking at me with one eye then the other before slowly walking away across the road.

pheasant

I walked across the bridge again to see the sweet chestnut tree ( and may be another squirrel) and visit the House. The other side of the river looked warm and welcoming.

Curraghmore

The pale yellow Ferns seem so fragile.

ferns

ferns

The sweet chestnut tree provided me with a lot of entertainment and some fifty pictures of its cute fruits. No squirrels though.

Sweet chestnut

sweet chestnut

The House is closed for public tours until the Easter 2019, but you can try to make an appointment.

Curraghmore

I turn to the road that would take me to the King John’s bridge. I still don’t give up hope to get a picture of Kingfisher, but apparently not today as a young couple with an off-leash dog turns into the same road. I let them pass, and dive into the dark side path that takes me in the opposite direction. A natural arrangement of sun-lit leaves in the puddle draws my attention. When I look at the picture, I am very pleased to see a hovering tiny bonus Syrphid fly and its shadow.

The path is quite dark, and I am not surprised that the only sunny spot is occupied. Young pheasant female doesn’t consider me a threat and makes herself cozy in the sun.

pheasant hen

No Kingfisher in sight, but a plump Dipper with a bright white bib looks over his shoulder at me with disapproval. Sorry, pal, my camera does make loud noises.

Dipper

The next stretch is a bamboo ‘forest’. After I finally emerge from the greenery, I step on my favorite ‘fairy path’ 🙂 It is all for today.

Curraghmore

Hope you all enjoyed the morning in Curraghmore as much as I did.

Here are more links to the Curraghmore stories : The Stag and the Dragon I ; The Stag and the Dragon II  ; The Tower  ;  Lady Florence ; Clonegam  There are many other related stories in this blog.

 Have a wonderful weekend!

120 comments

  1. This is quite captivating for me …I too live in the Transvaal (well it’s Johannesburg, Gauteng now: names have changed since our new democracy as of 1994). Also aged 50+ and going through significant work changes. I am fixated by your beautiful photography on this and other posts..I think partly because the landscape you depict is close to my roots. I have spent most of my life in South Africa but was born in England. Happy to have found your blog ☺🍃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Amanda! Glad you can relate. There is another blogger who got married and moved to a different country at the age of 50+. Big changes happen at any age 🙂
      I am sure you will like your new work soon – changes become routine in no time. I hope a trip to England is in your bucket list 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a lovely tribute, Inese, to the the last butler of Curraghmore and his lovely wife 🙂 He looks a lovely gentle soul. Those photos are so wonderful. By my age, which isn’t that young, I’ve still not seen a red squirrel with my own eyes. Apparently, when I was on the Isle of Wight in August there was one in a tree above me (according to my daughter) but I was looking at a shrub at the time and missed it! I love the shine on that chestnut. And I adore pheasants so much that I’ve a picture of a plump cock pheasant and three of his hens as my sign-in screen on my PC. I took the picture at Wakehurst Place, Sussex, which is full of very tame pheasants that are happy to eat out of your hands.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sarah! The Butler’s family enjoy their retirement. I just got a photograph from them – they both look so happy.
      Most of these pheasants are the free range poultry… They have a feeding place, and don’t walk around much, which is customary for the wild birds and animals. The gorgeous cock pheasant didn’t look totally wild to me either.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Breathtaking shots of the mist lifting, Inese! It’s as if the final curtains on the Butler’s time at Curraghmore has opened. You’ve captured delightful details throughout the grounds!

    I believe the pheasant walked up to you to greet you. The animals can sense your generous heart.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s just so amazing. There’ve been times when I’m driving the kids to school, and there’s pockets of mist in the farm valleys like terrific spider webs. I wish I could stop and take a photo, but, you know, kids screaming about school takes the fun out of it. Grrrrrrrr….

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh I know! 😀 And I always have somebody driving behind me which makes it impossible to stop on our narrow roads. This time was different – it was actually the birth of mist! I recon it is best seen when the sun suddenly rises from behind of a mountain or hill. The moment it happens all the wet, soaked things start steaming. It was my very first experience, and it was beautiul.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Hallo Inese, Ich bin heute das erste mal auf Ihre Foto Seite (praktisch reingestolpert). Wollte nur sehen, was das mit dem Haus auf sich hat, und ich muss sagen: bin total überrascht, wie Sie Ihre Eindrücke darlegen.Ich werde mich jetzt des öfteren mal sehen lassen.

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    1. Danke fürs Lesen Tamara! Suchen Sie nach “curraghmore” und Sie werden mehr finden. Ich habe schon früher über das Haus geschrieben. Dort lebt eine Familie, die im Sommer für die Öffentlichkeit zugänglich ist.

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  5. Oh how I enjoyed this morning in Curraghmore, Inese. Loved seeing the rising of the morning mist, how lovely that must’ve been to see in person. Also enjoyed the pheasant, squirrel, and chestnut photos. Your photos were such a treat here. And yes, really special to see the syrphid fly and its shadow. The dipper was superb.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. What an enchanting morning you had with all that rising steam like from a fairytale, Inese! Those squirrels are difficult to catch when high up in the trees, aren’t they? 😉 And the pheasants look so lovely especially the males with those beautiful colours. And that shadow of the fly is awesome! Great shot! And yes, our cameras do make quite a lot of noise, don’t they? I’m currently trying to get ‘my’ Great and Blue tits used to it – they seemed to be greatly annoyed by it but luckily the call of my peanuts is stronger! 😂
    Xxxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This landscapes are the ones I imagine when reading stories by Arthur Machen. places where the nature seems to have a bit of old magic and a bit of myth. It has to be a quite delicate task to be the gentleman of a gentleman. This is a wonderful memory, Inese (and indeed a little piece of history as to be the last butler)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment, Francis! My opinion is that all the families should preserve their history as much as it is possible. Modern culture is brainwashing people making them think they should buy new stuff and dump the old because it is out of fashion and all. The same about the past – we are taught to never look back. Both are wrong on many levels 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The story of Basil was bittersweet. As you say, it marks the end of an era. At the same time, his story is an inspiration too – how you can choose to change your path at any age. Like all your readers, I appreciate so much the tidbits of history and stories behind each photo journey 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! As to Basil, they just want to enjoy the weather. They are almost 80 and deserve some peace. Many of our people retire to Portugal or Spain. It is not unusual.
      Oh the mist didn’t give me a chance to think of exposure 🙂 It all lasted just a couple of minutes. Every surface was steaming – pity there were no horses at that time – they would make a great picture. These pictures are right out of the camera, i was just clicking erratically as I was afraid to miss something important 🙂 It was a field day for foggy pictures indeed 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Hi Inese, you capture Basil so well. I met him on several ocassions over time. Had great fun and laughs with him. Of course the very reason he came to Ireland after his let downs in South Africa is wonderful. The previous Lord Waterford was a bit more difficult to manage but Basil was well suited to the task. Best wishes to hiimself and the wonderful Colleen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yes, being a butler to the family that lives in the same house for about 850 years, is a unique experience. I would write a book, seriously. Twenty years would give enough material for a book.

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  9. What a lovely post, Inese! Thank you for those beautiful and autumnal photos. I saw that mist coming from tree trunks too yesterday morning (here in Finland, where I moved 5 months ago, aged 48;-)), but I didn’t really manage to catch them on camera. It is really magical.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Elisabeth! Isn’t it amazing? It lasted just about a minute, and started so suddenly I didn’t know where to point my camera 🙂 I am so glad you enjoy Finland. It is what I am saying – never too late to change your life 🙂 . Finland is beautiful, you will have many amazing experiences, changing seasons and happy discoveries.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, you captured it very well! It really is a magical phenomenon. And Finland is a magical place nature wise. It was a good decision to move here, and everything in my life is falling into place. Since I moved here I got my drivers license, started Finnish lessons and found a job that’s perfect for me and really close by. I moved here for the love of my life and that too is beyond my expectations. The other day I went for a walk and came eye to eye with a fox, I was so excited! Have a great evening ☺️😉

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! 🙂 I know you love pheasants, and I was thinking of you. I brought home many pictures, and simply enjoyed watching them, their mannerism and routine.
      This is an edible chestnut. Its leaves are very different from the horse chestnut with the cream and pink flowers, and the fruits are smaller. The spiky balls look very cute 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You have sparked an interest about pheasants. I have not seen them in real life. Googled about them some more and watched few video, they are quite cute. A little sad to learn that they are game bird. By the way, the wiki page says they are rare in Ireland?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. No they are not rare. They are everywhere in the woods and fields. Pheasants are game bird, and the hunting season starts in November… I knew you would love them. Gorgeous bird, all shiny and colorful. To tell the truth, there is nothing much to eat, in my opinion. Once I picked up a killed pheasant female to take it off the road in a nicer place, and I was surprised how light she was. It is only feathers, the body is very small, nothing like a chicken.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. John, I used to drive past Stoneyford, but the Annamult house is off the big road, and no one would go there without a good reason, as the road is suitable for only one car. I just messaged to the Nore valley national park and asked for assistance. If they answer my message I might know more next week 🙂

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