Duckett’s Grove, Keenstown, Carlow
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Last week on Valentine’s Day, Patrick, our 11 month son Smith, and I set off for Duckett’s Grove in Carlow for a family outing, and because we had booked Afternoon Tea … if you can’t eat cake on Valentine’s Day when can you eat it?
It was Baltic out, okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it really was cold. The sky was a dull grey, it was spitting rain and threatening snow. Not exactly the best weather to be sightseeing but even in bad weather Duckett’s Grove rises from the country landscape to command all in its view. It’s a fabulous looking place, so full of character and mystery, like an enchanted castle that got lost along the way.
Duckett’s Grove – Inside the Ruin
We arrived early for our aforementioned Afternoon Tea so took advantage of the free time to wander around Duckett’s Grove and its grounds. We walked around the courtyard, in to the ruined heart of the house (it’s not actually a castle!), around the gardens and then around the building itself. It’s funny because as I walked around the house to get a better view and take some photo’s, the clouds began to clear and blue sky appeared … it’s like Duckett’s Grove commanded them to … the vanity.
The Stables / Courtyard
Patrick and I were first introduced to Duckett’s Grove one August a couple of years ago. We visited it for a Teddy Bear’s Picnic our baby nephew and toddler niece were going to. It made a lasting impression on us then that summer, when the trees were full, the grass was a lush green and the flowers were blooming. We loved it.
Who would have thought a couple of years later we’d be introducing the place to our own little baby, and although the weather for our revisit was very different from before, it didn’t dull our feelings for it, and we can’t wait to return in Spring and the Summer and then Autumn again.
The history of Duckett’s Grove isn’t as wonderfully enchanting as its ruins are. From what I’ve read, there was no trapped princess in the tower, no knight in shining armour.
A brief synopsis for you is that in the early 1800’s the house began to transform from an old manor house into the turreted Gothic inspired architecture we see today. These changes took place under the guidance of John Duckett and his architects Thomas Cobden and John Macduff Derick. In the 1900’s William Duckett, John’s son, died leaving no heir and this glorious estate to his second wife Marie Duckett. She left the house when William died and moved to Dublin. The year was 1916 and if you know your Irish history you will also know what became of many of these magnificent estates around the country. Duckett’s Grove however was left unharmed during the War of Independence because the Duckett’s had been good landowners. Marie Duckett sold the house and all its contents a few years later. Over the following years the lands Duckett’s Grove governed were divided up and sold. In or around 1930 a business man bought the house, however in 1933 a mysterious fire gutted the place. It wasn’t until 2005, seventy-odd years later, that Carlow County Council stepped in and restored the Walled Garden, ensured what ruins remained were stable and renovated the stables to what we see today as workshops and the Craft and Design Shop … and aren’t we glad they did.
The Tea Rooms
When visiting, The Tea Rooms at Duckett’s Grove are a must. Our Afternoon Tea was scrumptious … the sandwiches were morish, the scones perfect, the jam delicious and the sweet treats so fresh and sweet. Run by Madeleine Forrest who was there to greet us with a very warm welcome, and with staff who are just as attentive and friendly, our experience with Smith was memorable, and the relaxed and family friendly atmosphere that allowed for that experience will draw us back for more … it was a little like visiting your relations ‘down the country’ and we loved every minute of it.
To connect with the Tea Rooms visit them on Facebook at The Tea Rooms at Duckett’s Grove.
From April the Duckett’s Grove Craft & Gift Emporium and craft workshops come alive (and I’ll be returning). There are also tours available upon request. Keep an eye on the aforementioned The Tea Rooms at Duckett’s Grove Facebook page because they usually update it with events and special days you should know about.