The Powerscourt Demesne

The Powerscourt demesne at Enniskerry in County Wicklow remains one of the best known examples of the "Big House" of Ireland. It was an estate that gave the impression of prosperity during the hardships of the famine and the land troubles during the 1800's. The lands originally belonged to the diocese of Glendalough and some of the estate was
Royal Forest.

The history of the estate dates back to the reign of King James 1st who granted Powerscourt to one of his generals, Sir Richard Wingfield, after he successfully quelled a rebellion of Iocal Irish chiefs in the county of Wicklow in 1603. The Wingfields later became the Viscounts Powerscourt. The 1st Viscount of Powerscourt began to build on the site of a castle once lived in by a family named "de la Poer", or in anglicised form, Power. This is the origin of the name "Powerscourt".

Powerscourt House itself was designed by the architect Richard Castle and is considered by some to be his finest work. Construction of the house began around 1731 in the Palladian style which was popular at that time. The house was comprised of a massive central block and twin pavillions which stretched out either side to obelisks topped by the Wingfield eagles.

The magnificent "Big House" was designed to house valuable collections of paintings and furniture and the elaborate formal gardens were an extension of the grandeur of the landlord. A suite of drawingrooms, redecorated for a royal visit (George IV) in 1821, were spread across the garden front at 1st floor level to take advantage of the beauty of the mountains and the valleys. During the 1800's various extensions were added, including a servants' block, stables, diaries and a laundry. The extensive farmyard also dates back to this time.

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