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Hello and welcome to this weekend’s virtual walk.
Today we are in County Carlow, close to the Wicklow border, to take a walk around an incredible building known as Ducketts Grove.
As we drive through the countryside the fields are ablaze with crops in full bloom, and standing all alone is a huge three storey building with a tall tower, this is Ducketts grove and it’s open to the public for us to visit , so please come along with me today .
There is a good sized car park close to the house so let’s park and head up toward the house and gardens. It’s a fantastic day for a walk – for sure it’s a shirtsleeves day a day to show off all your Connemara Marble bracelets !!
As we head up towards the house let me tell you about its history. Ducketts Grove was considered to be one of the finest Gothic Mansions and estates in Europe during the 19th and 20th centuries. The house was formerly the focal point of a 12,000-acre estate, owned by the Duckett family and dominated the local landscape of the area for more than two centuries. The original house was built around 1745 as a standard two storey , over basement Georgian country house. However, it was extensively remodelled and extended in the mid 1820’s as a castellated Gothic revival style mansion for the then owner John Dawson Duckett .This extension of the building was funded by a number of previous strategic marriages into wealthy merchant families and resulted in some of the original Georgian features of the building being removed or hidden. The building incorporates several towers and turrets of varying shapes – round, square and octagonal. One tall, solid granite octagonal viewing tower rises from the structure. Duckett’s Grove is further elaborately ornamented with oriel windows and niches that once contained lavishly carved statues.
The entrance is towards the back of the house, where the stables once were housed … by the way admission is FREE … and there is a small gift shop and a little tearoom.
As you can see the house itself is ruined, as it was destroyed by fire overnight on 20 April 1933. The exact cause of the fire has not been determined however, locals reported a minor fire the week before which they had managed to extinguish. This led to speculation about the cause of the eventual destructive fire. Luckily the local council have preserved what is left of the building and as we walk around the exterior, we can see the remains of several statues on pedestals close to the building and lined the approaches.
Now here’s another piece of information about the family …after the death of William Duckett in 1908, last in the male bloodline, his second wife, Maria Georgina Duckett, lived on in the property until 1916. By this time, she was no longer on speaking terms with her only daughter, Olive (William’s stepdaughter). The outcome of this was the disinheritance of her daughter following her death 1937, leaving her what is known as “the angry shilling”, just one shilling, a tiny amount !!
Now, here’s the gem that we can enjoy – the two interconnecting walled gardens. Restored between 2005 and 2007 simply takes our breath away. The first of the gardens, the “Upper Walled Garden”, was planted with historical varieties of shrub roses and a collection of Chinese and Japanese peonies. It is mainly planted with a huge range of flowering shrubs – for too many to mention ! Let’s head on to the second garden, the “Lower Walled Garden”, was once the site of the family old orchard, and now contains a variety of fruits, including figs and historical varieties of Irish apples. The borders were planted to contain a variety of shrubs and perennials. If you’re a gardener – then this is paradise !
Having been on our feet for almost an hour in the bright sunshine has worked up a thirst – so least head back to the tearooms for a cool drink and perhaps an ice cream too !
I hope that you enjoyed today’s walk, I know my friends in the US are enjoying the 4th of July and so we have a massive 20% off sale on over on my website at www.connemaramarble.com
See you next time and enjoy the weekend.
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