Lives in Service: Irish Country Houses

I was recently given copies of some old family papers, including references for various of my great-grandparents who had been in service as maids and gardeners in 19th-century Ireland.


Reading through the references, I’m looking up the different houses as I go along (the ‘Buildings of Ireland’ and ‘Landed Estates Database’ websites have been particularly useful). Some are long gone; others are stately ruins. A few have been turned into grand country hotels – which could be a fun bit of research in the future. I might be the first guest who would be more interested to stay in the servants’ quarters, though!

Reading about the owners too provides an interesting snapshot of a very different time in Ireland, and the fortunes of these families and their houses both closely reflect the changing political mood of the twentieth century.

Castle Boro House and Terraces, Co Wexford, where my great-grandfather was gardener. He grew, amongst other things, exotic hothouse flowers and fruits. The house was burned down by Irish Republicans in 1923.

I think I have a lot of research and a few ‘travels’ ahead of me.


(Photograph 2 is taken from Buildings of Ireland. The website also has an interesting article about the destruction of country houses in Co Wexford during the ‘Troubles’ of 1919-23, including a detailed account of what happened at Castle Boro)

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