Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Swiss Cottage, Cahir, Co. Tipperary

Up to now the majority of houses and castles featured in this blog have been reasonably conventional. Most have been nineteenth century neo-Gothic, with the the occasional Elizabethan and Jacobean example thrown in for good measure. Today, however, I thought to include something a little more fanciful, in the form of Swiss Cottage. Perched along the banks of the River Suir, the cottage is situated on the outskirts of the small town of Cahir. Well-known for its large medieval castle, Cahir owes much of its history to the Butler family, the barons Cahir. 

Swiss Cottage was built in the early 1810s by Richard Butler, the tenth baron Cahir and soon to be earl of Glengall (1816). Butler employed the talents of the eminent English architect, John Nash. When commissioned, Nash was already highly sought after, having been appointed the architect to the regent, George, Prince of Wales in 1806. Nash undertook monumental commissions such as Regent's Street and Regent's Park in London. For Butler to secure Nash's services was, therefore a major coup. Building on the cottage commenced in 1810, and took around four years to complete. The house was not designed to be lived in, but rather as somewhere to entertain family and guests. In that sense it can be described as a cottage ornĂ©e. These type cottages, which exuded an overt rustic quality, had become popular in the late eighteenth century. The largest and possibly most well-known is Marie-Antoinette's Hemeau de la Reine at Versailles, near Paris. 

The cottage's deliberately asymmetrical look and the curvature of lines was designed to make it appear at one with nature. The balconies and verandas included exposed tree trunks, all included to add authenticity and oneness with its surrounds. Inside the cottage was fitted out suitably for the purpose it was built, with a music room and various entertaining rooms, all highly decorated in a rustic style. 

A view of the River Suir with the cottage visible in the distance 

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