|Enjoying cream tea in the Pugin Room Lismore Castle|
When I went to bed last night - quite late as is my wont in the weekends - the cars were white with frost, as forecasted. This morning dawned bright crisp and sunny. Perfect for the event that's become enshrined in Lismore fundraising folklore as a day to be enjoyed by visitors from far and near.
|Farmers' Market Lismore Castle Avenue|
This year we were delighted to welcome our most recent distinguished guest - Ciara Conway TD - our newly elected Labour Party member for Waterford about whom I've blogged extensively in the run-up to and beyond the election.
|Bernard gives his talk on Lismore history|
|Chris talking about the Castle and gardens|
The gardens looked lovely despite the harsh cold winter - compared to last year's Devonshire Day, which followed a really hard late winter, this year's winter was earlier and by January and February the weather was warmer and spring had sprung a few weeks ago. The daffodils were starting to flower and the magnolias were in bloom, although one pink magnolia had its blossoms burnt by the recent night frosts. There was evidence of a lot of plant damage from frost and frost burn.
|Castle from Courtyar|
The yucca-like palms didn't survive the -15C temps of the past winter and a number had to be cut down, and a lovely Mimosa and Chilean Myrtle have also been damaged beyond resurrection. The Mimosa is normally ablaze with yellow blossom at this time, in-keeping with its International Women's Day symbolism - and this year the entire tree is deadwood. The Myrtle might survive but it seems unlikely, as only a few branches are in leaf.
|The Castle from the Courtyard|
Part of the draw of Devonshire Day is the Cream Tea served in the famed Pugin Room or Ballroom (the former Chapel) while Immrama Chairman Bernard Leddy and Immrama President Peter Dowd give very informative talks on the Castle's history in the context of the history of Lismore, which is pretty amazing as it encompasses the Book of Lismore, an illuminated manuscript from the 15th Century in Irish which documents the travels of Marco Polo. Another famed travel link to Lismore, along with the more contemporary Dervla Murphy link!
|First group enjoying the noon sun|
|Carlisle Tower Lismore Castle|
|View from Courtyard|
|Chris standing on the Ice House grid. Gallery in Tower|
I'm on duty as the health and safety first aider but thankfully I have never had any problems, other than the odd fall during bad weather when the ground becomes slippy underfoot. Today was uneventful but I still have to be there to accompany the groups on their walkabout, just in case. The Farmers' Market reopened for the season today and we can enjoy this every Sunday until October.
|Carlisle Tower from Lower Gardens|
As we have seen in the tragedy of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, we mess with nature at our peril and we have to bow to the strength of the forces of nature. When they are unleashed we are pretty powerless to do anything, and it was heartening to hear Chris in his role as head gardener of the castle extol the virtues of symbiosis with nature, working with rather than against it in being as organic as possible, crop diversity and selection of indigenous and not exotic plants, and not using chemicals at all as there are none without consequences. The results are seen in the wonderful working kitchen gardens that are ready for planting now, to provide the house and guests with fresh produce throughout the season.
|Arbutus tree planted by Pres. Mary Robinson 1991|
|Chris and Antony Gormley sculpture|
|Crest over entrance "God's Providence Our Inheritance 1615 "|
|An Irish Man (1907) Unknown Artist|
|"Up and Over" Irish Artist|
|Me with Mary Roche and family|
|The Yellow Jackets - me with Jan and the boys!|
|Pugin Chandelier in Dining Room - Note D for Devonshire|
|Joseph Paxton greenhouse|