As part of what is fast becoming my World Tour of National Trust sites, I also managed to get to Castle Coole on my last visit to Co. Fermanagh.
It was becoming wickedly hot out in the Northern Irish countryside. The sun decided it wanted to participate this summer after all! So I stopped at Castle Coole for a short picnic lunch before taking to the road. Unfortunately this meant I was unable to join a house tour. But I did manage to glean a little information from the brochure and, of course, the internet.
It must have been fabulous to be an architect in 18th century Northern Ireland; there was a lot of work to be found! Between 1789 and 1798, Castle Coole was constructed for the 1st Earl of Belmore, then MP for Co. Tyrone. It cost £57,000 to build, about £20 million in today’s terms.
Modelled after Florence Court, Castle Coole shares some architectural similarities; namely, the colonnades either side of the main house. However, Castle Coole was built in a neo-classical fashion. That means columns, and plenty of them!
The 7th Earl of Belmore gave the house to the Trust in the 1950s after he was slapped with a double dose of death duties when the 5th and 6th Earls died within 18 months of each other.
I’m disappointed that I did not have a chance to go inside. I’m keen to see the state rooms built for a visit by King George IV in 1821. The rooms never were put to use since the King never arrived to stay in them. At least Castle Coole emits all the splendour of royalty, just in case, right?