Curraghmore Leaflet

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C  U R R A G H M O R E

Portlaw,  Co. Waterford


The present Lord Waterford is the 8th Marquis of Waterford.  His ancestors (de la Poers) came to Ireland in the twelfth century from Normandy after a 100-year stopover in Wales.  They proceeded to build four castles in County Waterford viz. Dunhill, Kilmeaden, Clonea Power and Curraghmore around 1170 or, about 320 years before Columbus discovered the New World.  Today, only Curraghmore, meaning great bog, is still in use.  In more than 800 years the property has passed through the female line once only and that was prior to Catherine de la Poer marrying Sir Marcus Beresford in 1715 when she was just a teenager - it was she who created the unique Shell-house.

The present day de la Poer Beresfords are country people by tradition.  Farming, hunting, breeding hounds and horses and an active social calendar continues as it did centuries ago.  Weekly game-shooting parties are held every season (Nov. through Jan.) and in spring, calves, foals and lambs can be seen in abundance on Curraghmore’s verdant fields.  Polo is still played on the estate in summer.

Some 2 500 acres of woodland and grazing fields make this the largest private demesne in Ireland and a Sitka Spruce planted in 1835, reputed to be the tallest tree in Ireland, stands guard over King John’s Bridge.  Built in 1205 this stone-arched structure, spanning the Clodagh River, is the oldest bridge in Ireland. Twelve miles of famine relief boundary wall and four sturdy wrought iron gates secure the property.  Notably, throughout Ireland’s turbulent history, this family have never been absentee landlords and they still provide diverse employment for a number of local people. 

Gnarled pink chestnut trees line the approach to the big house and original castle tower.  St Hubert’s stag with crucifix between it’s antlers - genuine horns on the de la Poer family emblem - gazes across the Courtyard from atop the old castle.  The Beresford family emblem – a dragon with spear piercing its neck looks to the Comeragh Mountains from the southern rooftop. The Castle walls are about 12 feet thick and within one, a tight spiral stairway connects the lower ground floor with the roof above.  The house is reputed to represent some of James Wyatt’s finest plasterwork.  Change comes slowly to Curraghmore – table linen, cutlery and dishes from the early nineteenth century are still in daily use.

A Boston attorney with Irish roots recently visited Curraghmore and was moved to say that in his view, one of Ireland’s best-kept secrets is the Shell-house.


Shell-house and gardens open Thursdays, 2-5 p.m. Easter to 15th Oct.    @ €4 pp.

House tours can be arranged by fax 051 - 387 481 or Tel 051 - 387 101.    @ €6 pp.

Basil Croeser (guide) can be contacted at 051 - 387 134 or at



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