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If only the walls could talk

by Jimmy Rhatigan
Pics by Donal Foley

WHEREVER photographer Donal Foley, his Sony Camera and pet dog Ben go, they are really worth following.

Inevitably they will lead you to places of amazing interest, ancient, architectural, archaeological, horticultural, historical, educational and otherwise.

A recent visit was to Woodstock Loop Walks that proved to be a fascinating journey into the bowels of rural Inistioge.

The very latest escapade has been a broader aspect of the same region, to Woodstock House and Estate and everything that surely had to make this rustic giant a candidate for one of the Wonders of the World at another time.

Today the now derelict house is derelict but its gardens are still splendid. 

One can only imagine what might have been back in the 1700s when Woodstock and its surrounds were in full bloom, a domain of the wealthy, an aristocratic playground play-ground, a place where locals got desperately needed work to help them feed hungry children.

Construction of the famous edifice on the bank of the River Nore was started in 1745, Kilkenny Press understands. 

Wikipedia tells us that the story of the Ladies of Llangollen began at Woodstock and Anglo-Irish poet Mary Tighe died there in 1772. 


Back to Wikipedia and we learn that The Ladies of Llangollen were Eleanor Butler (1739-1829) and Sarah Ponsonby (1755-1831) 

They were two upper-class Irish women whose relationship scandalised and fascinated their contemporaries.

A story tells us that the pair moved to a Gothic House in Llangollen, North Wales in 1780 after leaving Ireland to escape the social pressures of conventional marriages.

Over the years, numerous distinguished visitors, in the language of the time, called upon them.

Guests included Shelley, Byron, Wellington and Wordsworth who wrote a sonnet about them.

Throw in a Monkey Puzzle Walk, amazingly designed gardens, elegant trees jostling for breathing space.

We hope we have whetted readers’ appetites for a visit to this Inistioge masterpiece.

Perhaps we should say that, unfortunately, Woodstock House met a sad death when it was destroyed by fire in an assumed arson attack after it was used as a billet by the British Army.

But its walls remain intact.

If only they could talk.

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