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.

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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.

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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.

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(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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