Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Mount Juliet, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny

One of Ireland's truly great country houses, Mount Juliet sits proudly along the meandering banks of the River Nore, in the south-eastern county of Kilkenny. Now internationally renowned for its golf course and luxury hotel, the house and estate was once owned by James, duke of York (later James II), eventually becoming home to the earls of Carrick, relations of the Butler earls of Ormonde, in the 1750s. The first earl of Carrick, Somerset Hamilton Butler (1718-74) orignally settled there in the 1750s. In 1745 he had married Lady Juliana Boyle, daughter of the first earl of Shannon, Henry Boyle. Upon taking up residence at their estate, the couple lived at nearby Ballylinch Castle. Butler decided, however, a more fitting home was needed, and work commenced on a new house on the opposite bank of the River Nore, sometime in the early 1760s. 

Construction on the new house was completed c.1770, and was named in honour of Butler's wife, commonly known as Juliet. The house occupies a prominent raised site overlooking the River Nore, lending to an overall sense of impressiveness. The house exhibits aspects of the Classical style but was quite distinct from the popular Classical houses erected at the same time; its pitched roof and high chimneys almost harping back to an earlier architectural era. 

The view above shows the close proximity of the house to the river. In the background is visible the bridge erected by the first earl in 1762. The bridge allowed the earl and his wife easy access from Ballylinch House to their new home on the opposite side of the river. The estate now provides the setting for a championship golf course of international renown, having hosted the World Golf Championship in 2002 and 2004, as well as the Irish Open for many years.

One of the house's drawing rooms

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