Patrick Hennessy’s 1957 portrait of Elizabeth Bowen presides over a room dedicated to her memory in Doneraile Court, County Cork (her own home, nearby Bowen’s Court, was irresponsibly demolished in 1961). After being closed to the public for the past 25 years, Doneraile Court has once more been taken in hand by the Office of Public Works and officially reopens today. The decoration and furnishing of the ground floor rooms displays terrific flair, with a wonderful mixture of items, some in state ownership, others on loan from private collections, all blended together with aplomb. Having woken from its quarter-century slumber, Doneraile Court proves to be the sleeping beauty of Irish country houses: visits are strongly urged.
The so-called Triumphal Arch into the grounds of Doneraile Court, County Cork. Believed to date from c.1830 and sometimes attributed to George Pain, it was erected during the lifetime of Hayes St Leger, third Viscount Doneraile whose family had occupied the estate since 1629 when Sir William St. Leger, Lord President of Munster acquired the lands for £1,800. The gateway was erected soon after a new road was made around the edge of the parkland to replace that which had previously run directly in front of the house. The Ionic capitals on the pillars to either side of the main arch contrast with the Doric order used for the pedimented lodge immediately inside the gates, although both presumably date from the same time. The two have recently been restored by the Office of Public Works.