12 August 2012

A walk in the gardens at Killruddery and by the shore in Bray

Killruddery is one of Ireland’s great historic houses (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Patrick Comerford

Bray is preparing to welcome Katie Taylor home tomorrow [Monday] with her gold medal. Despite heavy rain throughout the afternoon, Bray was alive and bright today, with music and crowds along the Promenade, and air of excitement everywhere.

Earlier in the afternoon, we were in Killruddery, which has been home to the Brabazon family and the Earls of Meath since 1618. This is one of Ireland’s great historic houses and the gardens deserved more of our time for walks and exploring.

Killruddery has been home to the Brabazon family and the Earls of Meath since 1618 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

We started our walk in the Walled Garden, first built around 1830. This is four acres of space within tall red brick walls. A long walk leads past potatoes, spinach, lettuce, asparagus, broccoli, swedes, courgettes, beans and herbs. There are pear, apple, damson and fig trees and at the heart of the garden is a perfect picnic spot. Close-by are hens and a cockerel, and pigs in an open pen.

The gardens at Killruddery are the oldest in Ireland still surviving in their original 17th century style (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

The gardens at Killruddery are the oldest in Ireland still surviving in their original 17th century style, with 18th and 19th century additions. They were designed for the entertainment of a large number of people and the scale is comparable to that of a park. They are mainly the work of the 4th and 6th Earls of Meath, who engaged Bonet, a French landscape architect and a pupil of Le Notre.

The middle section of the garden, ‘The Angles,’ is a series of walks flanked by hornbeam, lime and beech hedges that meet at two centre points. Beyond ‘The Angles’ is an avenue of Ilex trees dating from the 17th century and steps leading to what was the bowling green. This area is under restoration.

The Long Ponds are twin canals 187 metres long and known as miroirs d’eaux or reflecting ponds (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

The Long Ponds are twin canals 187 metres long and known as miroirs d’eaux or reflecting ponds.

Opposite ‘The Angles,’ on the far side of the Long Ponds, is a wooded area known as the Wilderness. A gate leads out to the Park and a statue of Venus. The circular granite edged pond is 20 metres in diameter and the four Victorian cast iron statues at the entrances depict the four seasons of the year.

Beyond the Beech Hedge Pond are the gardens laid out in a 19th century style. A low yew hedge encloses a rose and lavender garden with a fountain in the centre.

Killruddery House is one of the most successful EIizabethan-Revival mansions in Ireland. In the 1820s, the 10th Earl of Meath engaged Richard Morrison and his son William, fashionable architects of the day, to remodel Killruddery.

In the 1950s part of the house was demolished and the house was greatly reduced to its present size. However, much of the Morrisons’ design and architecture remains.

The glass dome in Orangery was designed by Richard Turner (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

We were brought through the house, ending finally at the magnificent Orangery. This was designed and built by William Burn in 1852 after the fashion of the Crystal Palace in England. The original glass dome was the work of Richard Turner, who designed the curvilinear range at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin and at Kew Gardens in London.

The Orangery in KIllruddery was designed by William Burn after the fashion of the Crystal Palace (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)
The Orangery houses a collection of marble statues gathered in Italy in 1830-1850. Classical sculptures include Ganymede giving water to Zeus disguised as an eagle, Cyparissus with his dying deer, and Cupid with Pysche and Venus. A collection of busts includes Homer, Socrates, Napoleon, William Pitt and the Duke of Wellington.

From Killruddery we returned to Bray and stopped for a moment at the former Town Hall and Market House, built by the Earls of Meath as a gift to the town. In front of the Town Hall is a monument to the Brabazon family with their heraldic wyvern, which we had seen throughout the house at Killruddery. Above was a banner preparing to welcome Katie Taylor back to Bray tomorrow.

The Brabazon wyvern fountain and the Town Hall in Bray ... preparing to welcome Katie Taylor home (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

The Meath family were generous patrons, giving Dublin the Meath Hospital, the Coombe Hospital and the Brabazon Home. What a sad reflection on life today that the Town Hall they gave to Bray has not remained a public building but is used by a well-known fast food chain!

We parked on the seafront, and walked back in the rain to have lunch in Campo De Fiori, on the corner of Strand Road and Albert Avenue. The restaurant takes its name from a square in Rome, known as the “field of flowers” because in ancient days it was decorated with nice daisies, poppies and many wild flowers.

Walking along the seafront in Bray this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Earlier in the day, I was in Tullow Church on Brighton Road in Carrickmines to preside at the early morning Eucharist at 8.30 and to lead Morning Prayer and preach at 10.30.

Tullow Church serves about 200 families in the Church of Ireland parish in the Carrickmines, Foxrock and Cornelscourt area.

Between the two services I strolled in early morning drizzle as far as Foxrock village, and back again.

Tullow Parish traces its history back to a church dating from the late 12th century and said to have stood on the site of an earlier church founded by Saint Brigid. Tullow or Tully (an earlier version of the name) means hillock and the original name was Tullagh na nEspuc (the Hill of the Bishops). Legend says the “Seven Bishops of Cabinteely” started out from there to visit Saint Brigid in Kildare.

The 12th century church was in use until about 1615, and was supplied with clergy from Christ Church Cathedral in the city centre. By 1630, the church had been badly damaged in storms. It was abandoned and fell into ruins, and the parish was united with Monkstown.

Tullow Parish Church on Brighton Road, Carrickmines, Co Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

The story of the present church begins in 1860. The parish church in Monkstown was finding it difficult to accommodate the growing numbers of church-goers on Sundays and Foxrock was a growing suburb served by new suburban rail stations in the Foxrock and Carrickmines on the Harcourt Street line to Bray.

The Revd John Fawcett, a curate in Taney, was nominated to the new parish of Tullow, which first used a schoolhouse on Ballycorus Road until the new church was consecrated in 1864.

The church, designed by Welland and Gillespie, had a simple rectangular shape and gothic-style spire. It was built in granite at a cost of £1,600. The rectory beside the church was built in 1890. The church was extended by JF Fuller in 1904, so that the original building became the transepts and the nave and chancel were added at right angles.

The East Window, which was added on 1959, shows four scenes from the life of Christ – the Annunciation, the Incarnation, the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Below is a discreet carved inscription quoting John Donne: “The whole life Christ was a continual passion ... His birth and his death were but one continual act, and his Christmas Day and his Good Friday are but the evening and the morning of one and the same day.”

The East Window in Tullow Parish Church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

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