Ireland - Cork 2002

Cork & Area
Fota Gardens & Blarney Castle


While going out to Cobh on the train, I noticed that we went right by Fota Gardens and decided that I would do this on my own and give Mom a day to rest. Fota House & Gardens is actually three parts, Fota House, Fota Arboretum and Gardens and Fota Wildlife Park. I only visited the house and gardens that day.

Fota Island is 316 hectares in area and was formerly the property of the Smith-Barry family who were descended from Phillip de Barri. Following the Norman invasion, Phillip received large grants of lands in South Cork from Henry II in 1177, and by 1206, a royal charter confirmed the existence of a manor at Barryscourt. The original family seat of the Barrys at Barryscourt Castle, a 15th century fortified tower house stands 3 km north east of Fota. The gardens were started in the early 1800’s. The plants were introduced by plant collectors working in Asia, Australasia and North and South America.

The house, created by Sir Richard Morrison, had one of the finest neo-classical interiors and Regency exteriors when built in the early 19th century.

I was impressed with all the modern conveniences it had at that time…the hot air heating system as shown by the grilles, the concealed roller shutters were state of the art then, the safe put by the heating grilles to keep papers dry, retractable steps to make it easy for barrels of wine and ale to be lowered. Gaps in the butler’s servery windows so that smells would escape into the servants quarters and not the family’s private quarters. The game larder with lead lined bins for salting or brining meats and on and on…a really neat place to visit. And look at that kitchen…I would love a kitchen like that.

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The gardens were beautiful. Besides the two walled gardens protected from the elements so that all kinds of plants would survive…there were the gardens outside these walls, full of very special plants. I will add this to the next tour because it is very worthwhile.

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See the picture that says, Welcome to Great Island? This is where Cobh is. I was just at the river where Fota is on one side and Cobh is on the other.

Mom and I took a short cab ride out to Blarney Castle one day – now I know that this is a tourist magnet, but who comes this far and does not visit Blarney! It was well worth the visit…there is so much room there that you do not feel crowded as you can tell by the photographs, and the scenery at the top is well worth the climb. A magical time in history, this is one of Ireland’s oldest and most historic castles, an ancient stronghold of the MacCarthy’s, Lords of Muskerry, and one of the strongest fortresses in Munster. Its walls are in place 18 feet thick. You have to climb to the top to get to the kissing stone. I made the climb and watched them, and just took a picture of it.

I have to apologize, some of the pictures are hazy, I guess I must have smudged up the lens while taking shots and didn’t notice it. I still think you can see what they are and enjoy them. There is a picture there of a jut out of stone with windows…that was the master bedroom!

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