Duckett’s Grove

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Well after a few false starts I finally got the chance to get back out on the road in search of new ruins. One of the draw backs of living in Ireland is the unpredictable weather, or should I say the constant threat of rain. So to start of 2014 with a bang, let me introduce you to the stunning Ducketts Grove. Up until now I have only ever seen this site in books or from the occasional image online. So this really was a treat for me. The detail in the surviving architecture really is quite astounding. Originally it started life off as a great Georgian Mansion built back in the 1700’s, but was redesigned in a Castellated Gothic revival style around 1825 by Thomas A. Cobden. The Grove rests in the centre of what was a 12’000 acre estate in its hey-day and has dominated the Carlow landscape ever since. Even in its current ruinous state it is quite a remarkable structure and must be one of the most photogenic historical buildings that I have explored to date. Unfortunately access to the interior of the building is not permitted at present, but hopefully in the future it will be opened to the public. That said there is still more than enough to see and explore from the outside, including the upper and lower walled gardens.

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John Dawson Duckett begun work on the rebuilding of Ducketts Grove in 1830 and with Cobden’s designs which included Soaring Towers, Turrets, Arches & Crenulations, Niches, high stacked chimneys, Oriel Windows and a portcullis, I can only imagine that the Grove would have easily passed for a fairy-tale Castle back in the day. It is also believed to have had numerous urns dotted around the grounds. These were carved from stone or yellow pine or were cast in plaster, bronze and copper. The various statue’s ranged from the royal lion and unicorn to griffons, centurions, classical figures and Germanic-type females. You can still see a number of grotesque heads which decorate the towers and window heads.

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 The Duckett’s were quite an important family of the time and claimed descent from William the Conqueror and the house of De La Poer. There were also family connections to both the Earls of Ormande and Kildare. The first Duckett to arrive in Ireland was Sir George Duckett, whom arrived in Ireland during the Cromwellian period. The Duckett family had their own private burial ground at Knocknacree, with the earliest recorded burial in 1839, when John Dawson Duckett’s eldest daughter, Elizabeth, died aged 18 years. There were eight burials recorded, the last of which was William Duckett who died on June 22nd, 1908. The walled-in quarter acre burial site and its headstones are still largely intact.

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After his death in June 22nd, 1908, William Duckett  left his estates to his widow and in the absence of a male heir; he left a small legacy to his nephew John Hardy Rowland Eustace. In 1939 High Court action involved the will of Maria Georgina Duckett. The estate at the time of her death was valued at £97,735. Her only daughter had been disinherited. The beneficiaries of this large fortune were British based Protestant Charities During the civil war the house and estate were used as a training camp for the IRA.

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In 1921 a group of local farmers purchased the mansion and 1,300 acres of land. After some arguments as to how the land was to be divided and a failure to repay bank loans, the Land Commission had to step in and bail out the farmers. Whilst the Bank retained the Mansion and 11 acres of land, the estate was divided between 48 farmers whom each received holdings. In 1931 the Bank sold its lot to Theo Frederick George Thompson of Hanover Works, Carlow for £320.

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On the 20th April 1933 a fire broke out which gutted the mansion. The cause of the fire has never been determined but this was the end for Ducketts Grove as it once was. For over seventy years Duckett’s Grove stood in a complete ruinous state until in 2005 Carlow County Council acquired the property. Since then much work has been done to the building and surround to make it safe. Most notably are the two walled gardens and the old stables which now house Tea Rooms and a number of Craft workshops. On my visit I came across to guys in the upper garden whom were busy surveying a section of grass with their metal detectors. I don’t think they will find anything of archaeological significance, but whilst I had a brief chat with one of them the other guy did find a €2 coin!

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Another interesting tale associated with the mansion is an alleged connection to a banshee and a possible haunting. For anyone whom is not familiar with the Banshee, please check out one of my articles from last year on the subject which you can read HERE. Anyway, the story goes that the Banshee at Ducketts grove was in fact a local woman whom had been having an affair with William Duckett. She suffered a rather tragic death, falling from her horse one day after which her mother was said to have cursed the Duckett family. I don’t mean to be a killjoy here as I love a good supernatural tale as much if not more than the next person but the chances of a Banshee connection with the Duckett family would be quite unlikely considering their English heritage. That said the death of the girl under such tragic circumstances could well have resulted in some form of a haunting, who knows? Apparently the Syfy channel ran an investigation into paranormal activities at Ducketts Grove on a program called ‘Destination Truth’, which I have as of yet not seen.

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I didn’t know this until I was leaving the estate but there is a rather stunning Gate lodge. I only noticed it when leaving as I had driven in from the other side of the estate. Unfortunately the old Ruinhunter enemy of Time was against me and I did not have enough left to stop of to check it out. It is as equally stunning as the main house but with the added exception that it is open for exploration. So for the moment the gatehouse shall have to remain at the top of my bucket list. But I plan to do quite a bit of exploring in Carlow this year, so it won’t be long before I get back to have  a GOOD LOOK AROUND. Each year a number of fairs are held at Ducketts Grove. You can find out more about these by checking out Carlow Tourism.

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For these and more of my images, why not visit my Website or join me on Facebook or Twitter.

About edmooneyphotography

Photographer, Blogger, Ruinhunter, with an unhealthy obsession for history, mythology and the arcane.
This entry was posted in Castles, Diary of a Ruinhunter, Historical, Landscape, Photography, Places of Interest, Ruins and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to Duckett’s Grove

  1. Pieces of 8 says:

    What a phenomenally rich subject! And a batch of superb shots. Great post.

  2. Next time you are nearby check out the gatehouse about a kilometre from the main house, amazing structure.

  3. Dalo 2013 says:

    Great photos Ed. The first and third really appeal to me, perhaps it is the contrast. The whole series is impressive…what a wonder it is, and imagine how it was in its prime.

  4. What an incredible place – I always think it is amazing that so much work and money is put into these houses, and yet with just a few decades they are left as ruins…

  5. Ed, Carlow is indeed a treasure for sites, also of all the counties I think it seems to have the best signposting and documentation of sites.

  6. lyonsroarforgod says:

    Amazing photographic work and fascinating history! Thank you so much! Lisa

  7. Iksa says:

    Fantastic!
    Great photos and great history.

  8. I can see why you could spend a couple of days just shooting the exterior – massive! Glad to hear someone is attempting to keep the structure alive – must have been grad in its day. Great post to begin the new year with Ed.

  9. Fascinating, what an amazing building, and thanks for all the info. Great work!

  10. peaches1240 says:

    I could spend days with a site like that and not get bored. The castle is beautiful. Someday, I’d like to spend time touring sites like these with my camera.

  11. Amazing photos and interesting story.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Irene

  12. These are beautiful, thank you Ed, I’ll certainly be visiting your blog again

  13. Love your blog. Great photos and information

  14. hermitsdoor says:

    That constant threat of rain does make for some stuning cloud affects, both as sky-background, as well as dappled shading on the stone walls of the structure.
    Oscar

  15. hakesplace says:

    Dramatic effect created by the backdrop of clouds…almost animates some of these photos–stunning.

  16. lunatique77 says:

    Love the pics! Very gloomy!

  17. What a fascinating story. Now here is my question: Why was the daughter disinherited, and what became of her??? That might be an interesting stone to turn 🙂 I have only been to Ireland once, and it rained on and off every day of the week I was there. As Aussies, I believe that is why the grass is such a lovely rich colour ………….All part of the charm ……

    • LOL, thats why we are known as the Emerald Isle, 🙂 Im not sure as to why the daughter was disinherited but there was a court case at the time. Initially Maria’s will left everything to a number of charities, but it seems that her daughter did end up getting a small portion.
      Sorry you had to experience our rubbish weather, now you know how I feel on a daily basis 🙂 Although when we do get some sunshine, its quite stunning.

      • Honestly, it was fine. My husband was working on the wharves at the time, and we packed their wet weather gear in bright safety yellow. We looked like a couple of idiots traipsing around the countryside like that – but hey! We explored and stayed dry.

  18. I really like the first picture and the story. The light on the castle is awesome!!! Great work!!! 🙂

  19. Thank you for liking “Frost Flowers.” I enjoyed this post. I especially like the first, fourth, and fifth photos, and I appreciate that you included a brief history of Duckett’s Grove in this post. Well done! 🙂

  20. puglife says:

    The black and white really works with these shots. Lovely.

  21. hocuspocus13 says:

    Reblogged this on hocuspocus13 and commented:
    jinxx reblogged to hocuspocus13

  22. colonialist says:

    What a great setting it would make for gothic horror/romances! I would love to explore it and environs.

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  25. socialbridge says:

    What a stunning place! You bring it alive beautifully.

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