Fota House, Arboretum and Gardens is a fantastic regency style great house located in county Cork, in the south west of Ireland. This charming house is one of the best examples of a country house in the country and was the home of the Smith Barrys for centuries. Fota House is set amongst 780 acres of rolling parkland, it was originally built in the 18th century as a hunting lodge but, was redesigned in the 1820’s by John Smith Barry who wanted a magnificent setting for his extravagant entertainments.
Fota House has been sympathetically restored to its former glory. The house provides a fascinating and intimate insight into a bygone era and the great divide in wealth at this time, the landed gentry lived in grand opulent surroundings which are in stark contrast to the servants working and living conditions, that are beautifully preserved. The house has authentic historical surroundings, and visitors have access to many of the seventy rooms, including the elaborate entrance hall with its beautifully detailed scagliola columns, its principle rooms with their grand decor and finely detailed plasterwork, gilded and painted ceilings, and 19th century wallpaper, the spacious dining room has many family portraits on display, the charming nursery and gorgeous boudoir. It is the only house that gives access to an original kitchen pantry, with everything still intact, it clearly demonstrates the workings of the kitchen back in the 19th century. A number of wonderful paintings and architecture can be seen throughout the house. Guided tours are taken by passionate guides who provide a real insight into the history of the house and its inhabitants over the years, as well as entertaining stories, the tours are interesting and entertaining. The public guided tours are only operated from April to September.
The house hosts monthly cultural events that cater to all ages and interests, including, garden, craft, evening concerts and lots more.
Outside are the award-winning Frameyard Gardens, they cover 27 acres and they should be included on any visit, they are home to a fabulous collection of rare, delicate and unusual plants, trees and shrubs and Orangery, and are beautifully laid out and maintained. These peaceful and historic gardens have many areas to see and admire. The Italian Garden houses the Rose Gardens, these are stunning when in full bloom and the heady scent is delicious. The Victorian Walled Kitchen Garden, is one of the best in the country, organic produce is grown here using traditional methods passed down by the gardeners who used to work here. The atmospheric Victorian Fernery has a collection of exotic tree ferns. The Victorian Glasshouse garden has recently been restored. The arboretum and gardens are open all year round and offer visitors a haven for relaxation and enjoyment.
There is a cafe that opens from April to September, it serves delicious home-cooked dishes in a cosy and inviting atmosphere.