Within walking distance of the Killyhevlin hotel is Castle Coole, one of the finest neo-classical houses in Ireland. Home to the Earls of Belmore, the mansion and 70 acres of land were transferred to the National Trust in 1951 but the family retained ownership of the contents.
Designed by James Wyatt and completed in 1798, Castle Coole’s magnificent façade was built with Portland stone which was shipped from Devon to Ballyshannon and by barge to Enniskillen. The timeless elegance and perfect symmetry of the exterior is matched by the opulence of the interior which was furnished in the regency style by the 2nd Earl of Belmore.
Visitors may admire the Cuban mahogany doors and Italian scagliola columns in the entrance hall, the French Empire style of the drawing room and a ladies’ workroom furnished in a Chinese style. In the breakfast and dining rooms hang family portraits by Hugh Douglas Hamilton and Robert Hunter, two of the most eminent Irish portrait painters of their day. Also in the breakfast room is Giovanni Battista Cipriani’s depiction of Castor and Pollux, ‘The Heavenly Twins’.
Possibly the best painting in the house, it was acquired by the current Lord Belmore, a connoisseur and collector who has purchased other important works for Castle Coole and in the 1980s commissioned the noted Fermanagh artist, T P Flanagan, to produce an original series of watercolours and oils featuring the house and grounds.
In 2013, in preparation for the filming of Miss Julie starring Colin Farrell and Jessica Chastain, the basement kitchen area was refurbished. Be sure to visit the charming tea shop in the vicinity of the courtyard.
Image Credit: Tourism Northern Ireland
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