Orla Kelly reflects on her recent stay at Inchiquin House:
Having worked on so many of Irish Landmark Trust’s wonderful properties, I was never able to step back far enough from a house to really appreciate how magical the entire experience is. I had forgotten how sculptural the stone walls in Clare are: they mark the fields and lanes leading to Inchiquin House as they weave their way in and out of majestic trees. There, at the end of the driveway, stood the house, illuminated like a jewel in the dusk. Irish Landmark’s House Manager, Anne Foley met us at the door. Inside she had fires lit, heating on, daffodils in jugs and fresh scones on the kitchen table. I felt like a traveller returned. As a colour specialist, walking the rooms of Inchiquin was like a master class. The duck egg blue in the hall shimmered, the dining room red smouldered and the bedroom forest green radiated calm.
Piles of books on every subject combined with the elegant window seats made us almost wish for a deluge so that we would be bound to the house to luxuriate in reading, wandering and relishing the noble trees and pastures from every aspect. Fortunately, it was not to be and the sun shone unusually brightly the next morning, revealing possibly the cleanest windows I have ever seen.
The Burren landscape was stunning, lunar and mystical; the villages and friendliness of the Clare people was legendary, as we took in view after view of mesmerising beauty. With sharpened appetites, we returned to our stately home and relaxed by fires, in baths or reading. Chef standard equipment and ovens made cooking and even cleaning a pleasure.
The Pompeian red dining room was decorated, music played and we all dressed for dinner and had champagne in the parlour before feasting on roast lamb in the dining room. We retired to the parlour for charades and some ghost stories until the fire was just embers and one by one the bedroom lights went out.
Everyone slept for Ireland and awoke rejuvenated the next morning to see sun streaming across the oriental rugs and shimmering on the mahogany. And so, it went on- day after glorious day. Words can never really describe the Irish Landmark Trust experience because it has a mysterious ingredient; the sum is greater than all its magnificent carefully considered parts. It is not like going back in time but simply existing in another time.