800 Years of history at Powerscourt
The 1st Viscount Powerscourt was keen to make his mark and assert his position as one of importance in society, so he set about transforming the medieval castle at Powerscourt into a grand mansion. In 1730 he commissioned the German-born architect Richard Castle to build Powerscourt House, a 68 room mansion which was completed in 1741. The mansion was designed around the medieval castle in the style of Palladian architecture and featured baroque dome-roofed towers on either side, giving it in the words of one architectural historian, “The massive dignity of a great Italian Renaissance villa.”
The North front was adapted to present a grand entrance in the Palladian manner, while the South front faced the gardens and was initially only two storeys in height. An extra storey was added in 1787 and further major alterations were made in the late 19th century. The house contained some of the finest 18th century interiors in Ireland and was one of the country’s most beautiful mansions. In 1961, the Slazenger family purchased the Estate from the 9th Viscount Powerscourt.
A Tragic Tale
In 1974 a major refurbishment of the house was completed in preparation for it joining the gardens as a visitor attraction. Tragically, in the early hours of November 4th a fire broke out on the top floor of Powerscourt House and by the morning the main part of the house was a roofless shell. No-one was injured, but all of the principal reception rooms and bedrooms were destroyed. The walls of the main house, revealing stonework dating back to the 13th century, stood as a stark reminder of the fire for over twenty years. In 1996 the house was re-roofed and it was opened to the public by President Mary Robinson in 1997.
Powerscourt House Today
Powerscourt House today is home to the best of Irish design in gifts, clothes and furniture. The Avoca Terrace Café offers the finest Irish artisan, freshly prepared food. Visitors to Powerscourt can experience Tara’s Palace, a unique and magical hand crafted doll’s palace. Powerscourt House was recently voted as One of the Top Ten Houses and Mansions Worldwide by the Lonely Planet Guide. It is wonderful to see Powerscourt House thriving today as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland.