Okay - yesterday I promised I would have a treat for you from this year's trip to Ireland. As I said, we purposely took a different route down to West County Cork this year because I wanted to drop into the Powerscourt Estates in Enniskerry, County Wicklow. Here is the story I put together from the websites of Powerscourt Estates and from Tara's Palace and Childhood Museum:
In the early 1900s, master Irish craftsmen were commissioned to build a wonderful miniature doll’s house palace. “Titania’s Palace” took 15 years to complete and was furnished with exquisite miniatures from the four corners of the world. Titania’s Palace then toured the world, raising money for children’s charities.
- Titania's Palace-
Unfortunately, by 1967, the owners were no longer in a position to tour with the Palace so it was put on the auction block, through Christie’s in London, with the funds raised from the sale once again being donated to children’s charities.
The purchaser offered it to the Irish Government but the offer was not followed up on at the time so, sadly, Titania’s Palace left Ireland and remained in England for many years.
In 1978, the Palace was once again being offered for sale at Christie’s Auction House. Ron McDonnell, head of the Irish Antiques Dealers Association, led an Irish delegation at the auction, confident they could buy the Palace back for Ireland. They had not allowed for the deep pockets of Legoland, Denmark, who paid £135,000 for this incredible example of miniature artistry. Once again, Tatania’s Palace was lost to Ireland.
However, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, a great true story with a fairy tale ending began. Ron and his colleagues decided that “If Irish craftsmen could build one miniature palace, they could build a second one.” They commissioned the building of a new miniature palace and named the new building “Tara’s Palace”, in honour of the fairy princess, Tara.
Tara’s 22-room Palace has been meticulously constructed by some of Ireland’s finest craftsmen and has taken over twenty years to complete. Designed and built to one-twelfth scale, it encapsulates the grandeur and elegance of three great 18th century Irish mansions; Leinster House (Kildare Street, Dublin), Castletown House (Celbridge, County Kildare), and Carton House (Maynooth, County Kildare).
Tara's Palace - Leinster House Facade
Each room is furnished with exquisite miniature furniture, many of them priceless antiques. Paintings by leading Irish Artists, including Tom Ryan R.H.A. and miniature furnishing masterpieces by Fed Early, Paul Geoghegan, Michael Walton, John Hodgson and others adorn the State Rooms and private apartments. The magnificent Cantilever staircase is by Christopher O’Neill & Sons, while rare examples of glass, porcelain, silver and ivory in miniature have been collected from around the world.
Among the fascinating furniture is a collection of carvings made by Napoleonic prisoners of war, carved from bone pieces they kept from their scarce rations.
Following the tradition of Titania’s Palace, Tara’s Palace, Museum of Childhood is a small registered charity dedicated to helping the children of Ireland. The Palace itself forms the centre piece of the Museum and is augmented and supported by a collection of historic doll’s houses including “Portabello,” circa 1700, possibly the earliest surviving doll’s house in Ireland or the U.K which was collected by Vivien Greene. The museum has also acquired a doll’s house from the family of Lady Wilde (Oscar’s Mother), a very rare and small 18th century doll’s house for use in a carriage to amuse children when travelling and others in various styles and periods.
The rest of the story will be told through the many pictures I took while at the museum. I probably could have taken more but it was very busy the day we were there and it was difficult to get into a good position. Also - the room that houses the Palace has very large windows on both sides of the room which caused so many reflections on the glass protection in front of each of the doll house rooms that there are many photos with the reflection of people and other things - so sorry but I was pretty sure they wouldn't take kindly to being asked to remove the glass fronts! :-)
Here are a few pictures to get you started and I will post the rest that I have tomorrow. Today I'll start with the front of Powerscourt Estate itself, then give you some pictures of the overall 1" scale Tara's Palace. Tomorrow I'll show pictures of individual rooms.
Powerscourt Estates (The building is beautiful but the acres of gardens are spectacular! - I didn't get pictures of those.):
Tara's Palace (The outside walls for the Palace are sitting on top of the building so you can see what the exterior would look like if they were put in place):
The main garden:
So - if you're interested - pictures of the individual rooms will come tomorrow. Enjoy! TTFN!!! - Marilyn