Ever wonder what it would be like to live one of Ireland’s oldest historic estates ? Or what it may feel like to be able to trace your family roots back over 800 years ?
Well wonder no more . You and visitors to one of Irelands most historic estates are to be catapulted back in time this July (2-5th) as Fitzgeralds and their descendents from around the globe descend on Dromana House and Gardens in Villierstown & Cappoquin in West Waterford. Maybe your surname is Fitzgerald or FitzAnthony or maybe you are a Villiers or Villiers- Stuart , maybe a Power or Grant , maybe even a de Burgh or a Fitzgibbon all of these names and their ancestors have connections to the Fitzgerald of ” The Decies ” . But you do not have to have a family connection to enjoy these celebrations in July in the wonderful settings of Dromana estate and environs . You could be a lover of history , of magnificent estate gardens and castles , have a curiousity for geneology or re-enactmenst or maybe even just a lover of fine dining in unique and magical surroundings . (www.dromana800.com)
Thousands are expected to converge on stunning Dromana House perched high on the cliffs above the Blackwater river (www.dromanahouse.com) and it’s extensive sloping gardens ,which is part of the Waterford Garden Trail , between July 2nd and 5th to celebrate the fact that 800 years previously KIng John of England not only granted Dromana but all of Co.Cork and Co.Waterford to Thomas FitzAnthony .
From there began an eight centuries long story of alliances made and broken; seiges; battles ; at least one underage marraige; a family member that was to become mistress to a powerful King and a male family member who was reported to be a very “special friend” of another King; a famous Egyptologist ; the impressive Catherine of Desmond who fell to her death, from the first cherry tree brought to Ireland by Sir Walter Raleigh, at the grand old age of 140 ;Catholic Rebellions and Emancipation; unique architecture in the form of a Hindu-Gothic gate lodge built as a wedding present to a young couple in love; hard times; the loss of lands; demolition and redemption.
For 26 generations the Villiers-Stuarts and their Fitzgerald and Fitz-Anthony ancestors have lived on the cliff of Dromana overlooking the majestic Blackwater and now , Barbara Grubb , the 26th generation is inviting not just the Fitzgeralds but anyone interested in history and their family roots to come and share in this magical weekend ,that will honour the past and look forward to the new generations yet to come, in July . (www.dromana800.com )
It will be the ultimate experience for those vacationing in the region. Anyone who is interested in the history of Dromana Estate and Gardens as well as the other houses such as Salterbridge and Cappoquin on the Waterford Garden Trail (www.waterfordgardentrail.com) in one of Munsters most unspoilt scenic regions. Those interested in architecture and follies such as the Ballysaggart Towers and lovers of good food and dining with a chance to attend a Medieval Banquet, with a modern twist, to dining in the magnificent estate houses themeselves or even lovers of music. (www.dromana800.com) . All types of visitors will descend on Dromana and Cappoquin for their own reasons for this landmark celebration on the banks of the Blackwater on July 2-5th.
Barbara Grubb believes that ” Dromana 800 is very much a celebration of people and place. There are few families in Ireland today whose history is so well documented. We want the people of Ireland and the Irish diaspora to come along and partake in the exciting events that offer a special social and cultural mixture with something for everyone, young and old.
For the culturally curious, we want people to take a tour of the greathouses of the area and learn why so many houses of historical interest came to be built on the banks of the Blackwater and why one hundred and twenty six remain, when elsewhere their peers were sacked, looted or deserted.
For the true history buffs there is ” The History, Architecture and Art of the Blackwater Valley and Beyong ” also you can watch The ” Battle of Affane ” come to life and learn how a private battle between the Fitzgerlds and Butlers, fought on local soil, was to shape Ireland for generations to come .
To round off the weekend Villierstown is throwing a Georgian Fete to celebrate the village’s foundation by John Villiers , who may even make an appearance !?
For music lovers the highlight will surely be the performanace of the internationally renowned singer ,Rebecca Storm in stunning Villierstown Church on Saturday the 4th of July . (www.rebeccastorm.com)
Other connections abound in this region too. With connections to the Knights Templar, Cromwell and Sir Walter Raleigh , monolithic tombs, Molana Abbey – the first library in southern Ireland and also the production of Collectio Canonum Hibernensis, which effectively dated the first rules of Canon Law and in more modern times the filming of the classic film “Moby Dick ” in nearby Youghal.
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