Bantry House and Gardens
Bantry House and Gardens Review
One of Ireland's most famed manors is noted for its picture-perfect perch, on a hillock above the south shore of Bantry Bay. The fine Georgian mansion is surrounded by a series of stepped gardens and parterres that make up "the stairway to the sky" and spreading out below lies the bay and, in the far distance, the spectacular range of the Caha Mountains—one of the great vistas of Ireland. Built in the early 1700s and altered and expanded later that century, the manor is the ancestral seat of the White family. The house is largely the vision of Richard White, 1st Earl of Bantry, who traveled extensively through Europe and brought a lot of it back with him: fabulous Aubusson tapestries said to have been commissioned by Louis XV adorn the Rose Drawing Room, while state portraits of King George III and Queen Charlotte glitter in floridly Rococo gilt frames in the hypertheatrical, Wedgwood-blue and gold dining room. An antique or two is thought to have belonged to Marie-Antoinette.
Outside, the drama continues in the garden terraces, set with marble statues, framed by stone balustrades, and showcasing such delights as an embroidered parterre of dwarf box. The tearoom serves light lunches, and features local artisan foods. In summer the house hosts concerts in the grand library, notably the West Cork Chamber Music Festival (held during the first week of July).