on May 16, 2012
The Swiss Cottage is another heritage site that is operated by the Office of Public Works (OPW). It was built by the same family who had lived in Cahir Castle in the 1800's so touring it is a natural fit to the history lesson of this area. It is located about a mile from the Cahir Castle, along a river's edge walkway or you can drive to it via the town streets. Located at the backside of a large park, the parking lot is a good distance from the actual cottage and requires a bit of a walk including a substantial hill leading up to the cottage itself. This was one of the times that it was fortunate that we had Ellie's blue handicap parking hanging tag which could be used to secure parking in one of their handicap parking spaces. That cut our walk to roughly two or three hundred yards on a relatively flat gravel surface.The Swiss Cottage was built in 1810 by Richard Butler the First Earl of Glengall based on the design of John Nash, a famous Regency architect. The "cottage orne" was a popular concept in 19th century Europe, often a summer retreat for the rich located on lavish estates and used primarily for entertaining. The Butlers had this thatch roof cottage built on the land that also included their primary residence further down the river.It is a small four room, two level structure that over time had been abandoned and left for hooligans to damage. Many of be beautiful painted windows were destroyed at that time, although one set was taken and preserved by a neighbor.In 1985 it was purchased by a local group and the restoration process began. The original painted windows of the music room were returned at that time and are back in their original place. Reopened in 1989, today visitors are taken through each of the four rooms to learn about the more opulent lifestyles of the rich in the early 19th century.It was interesting that while the upper level contained rooms with daybed like furniture, the Butlers did not actually reside here in the cottage. These rooms were used more as a place to rest during busy days or at the end of an evening that may have included a bit too much to drink. Again, this was a place to entertain, not to live.Photos were not permitted inside the cottage but I did snap one of David and his mother on the lovely spiral staircase before knowing I could not take photos. (It is attached to this review.) I was also able to take a photo of the music room through the outside window so take a look at that one too.The guided tour groups are limited to just 12 people, so you may have some time to wait for your group. We spent our time dodging rain drops as we enjoyed the well manicured grounds. Right next to the cottage is a large yew tree, believed to be more than 1,000 years old. In the photo (attached) you can see how hard the rain was falling at the time of our visit.While to tour only takes about 45 minutes, I would suggest planning for two hours here given the possibility of having to walk a distance to get here and the fact that you may have to wait for your tour. There is a note on their website that this is a very busy site during the summer months, so consider an early morning visit to keep your wait time down.As an OPW Heritage site there is an admission fee, which is waived for OPW Heritage Card holders. More info regarding the OPW Heritage Card may be found here: http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/Info/HeritageCards/ .
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