Celbridge, Cº Kildare
Irish Heritage Site
Beyond the print room (which was probably a ladies room) is the state bedroom. It seems off to have a "bedroom" on the main floor adjoining the print room (which was probably a waiting room between the bedroom and the main hall. Basically, the very rich and famous emulated royalty and actually received very importants guests in their "bedchamber", as a way of showing that the visitors were important enough to be allowed into the inner sanctum, as it were. Beds from the period are very short -- you couldn't actually stretch out in them. Depending on who you believe, these bed were for show only, or people slept propped up because of tuberculosis (or tb fears).
Upstairs (not by the dangerous hanging staircase!), the huge gallery has several ornate bedrooms and the Long Gallery. This Pompeiian-style room was designed by Louisa in 1770, and was used as a living room. It has a number of fake doors (to keep the room symmetrical) and -- weirdly -- the doors inside are much shorter than they are on the "outside" of the room. She simply built thick walls inside the doorframes that allowed her to use "normal" sized doors inside while still keeping the tall doors outside. The walls are hand-painted with scenes from Italy. Louisa ordered the chandeliers from Italy...they are about the most butt-ugly things I"ve ever seen! Restoration in 1989 repaired most of the flaking paintings and gilding. OUr guide let us hop over the red velvet ropes and look at the walls up close, as long as promised not to touch anything.
The house passed to Desmond Guinness in 1967, when initial restoration work was done and the house was opened to the public. SOme of the back rooms have photographs showing the initial state of some of the house -- it was seriously failing, and required extensive rebuilding to stabilize the structure. From blackened, rotting floorboards and failed plaster to the restored home of today is a great change. The house was given to state care (although not the contents of the house) in 1994, and Duchas is trying to buy back as much of the original estate as possible from the Guinness family to restore Castletown entirely.
A comprehensive gazzetteer of the architectural detail is here.
lost in ireland 2005 travelogue and photos © rfingerson