Farmleigh, Co Dublin
Recently restored and open to the public, Farmleigh is an architectural masterpiece. It receives well over 300,000 visitors years, securing its status as one of the country’s leading cultural attractions.
The estate occupies 78 acres north-west of Phoenix Park, on high ground overlooking the River Liffey. It began as a small Georgian house in the late 18th century and was purchased by Arthur Guinness’ grandson, Edward Cecil, 1873. The house was expanded and remodelled over the next few years and grew increasingly luxurious. By the early 19th century, Farmleigh was a gracious and stylish venue that served as the main Dublin residence for the Guinness family.
Tours of FarmleighOnly the ground floor and gardens of Farmleigh are open to the public, but there’s a great deal to see and experience in these two areas, alone. Walking through the entrance, guests are greeted with six columns of Connemara marble and an ornate chimney piece with carved marble inlays. Left of the entryway is the Dining Room, an extravagant affair built around four 17th-century embroidered panels and complete with intricate wood carvings. The Ballroom is indicative of turn-of-the-century social architecture.
Through the Ballroom is the Conservatory, a highlight of Farmleigh. The marble flooring is original, and the general atmosphere has been restored, with exotic plants throughout and hot-water pipes running the perimeter. This is a particular triumph of the Office of Public Works, which carried out Farmleigh’s restoration project. New structural supports and re-glazing of the glass has extended the life of the Conservatory (for at least another 100 years) without detracting from its original design and layout.
Tours of the gardens are equally worthwhile. The Dutch-style Sunken Garden features a restored marble fountain. However, the focal point of the pleasure grounds is the lawn behind the house. The fountain here is 21 metres across and surrounded by mature trees, including a 200 year-old birch tree.