Wednesday 12 December 2018

Immerse yourself in the history and splendour of Doneraile Park

Tour guides dressed in period costume bring four centuries of history to life

King Henry VIII (Willie Pat Hallihan) welcoming a picnic group to Doneraile Park last Sunday
King Henry VIII (Willie Pat Hallihan) welcoming a picnic group to Doneraile Park last Sunday
OPW site manager Michael O’Sullivan with Elizabeth 1 (Catherine Murray) and Edmund Spenser (Ted Palmer)

Bill Browne

The monthly summer season of free tours of the historic gardens at Doneraile Park continued last Sunday - with visitors getting the chance to rub shoulders with some famous characters from the venues fascinating past.

Hundreds of people took the opportunity to bask in the summer sunshine and savour the stately surroundings of one of Ireland's top free visitor attractions in the company of guides trained by the Doneraile Development Association.

They escorted visitors through the more than four centuries of horticultural history at the Park, with members of the Doneraile Drama Group dressed up in period costume.

They popped up like ghosts along the route to deliver speeches and talk to people.

These included King Henry VIII, who appointed Anthony St Leger to the position of Lord Deputy of Ireland; and Elizabeth Aldworth (née St Leger), the first and only woman ever to become a Freemason.  Another famous character who also appears on the tour is Queen Elizabeth I.

She was the subject of Edmund Spenser's epic poem 'The Faerie Queene', which was written in the 16th century while the poet was living at Kilcolman Castle and inspired by the gardens at Doneraile Park.

As well as learning about the fascinating history of the Park and its gardens, visitors will also get the chance to record their own bit of history by taking a selfie with some of these historical characters.

The next tour is scheduled to take place on Sunday, August 5, from 1pm.

What promises to be another magical occasion will be rounded off with a performance by the Cork Light Orchestra (the vagaries of the Irish summer weather permitting) against the stunning backdrop of Doneraile Court.

All are welcome to come along with their own picnic and enjoy the day.  For more details of this and other events at the park, visit the dedicated Doneraile Facebook page.