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Unsurprisingly great houses such as Powerscourt seem even more offensive in Ireland than they do in England.
The contrast between the extreme luxury of the landowners and the poverty of the general population is only heightened by the ethnic and religious differences between them.
In 1603, after a checkered history, the old Powerscourt Castle built in 1300 for the Norman le Poer (Power) family from whom the estate takes its name,
was granted to one Sir Richard Wingfield, a military man appointed Marshal of Ireland in 1600.
His grandson, also Sir Richard Wingfield, the third Viscount Powerscourt, was responsible for the major rebuilding which commenced in 1731 and took ten years.
He employed the famous German-born architect, Richard Castle. An extra story was added in 1787 and there were further major alterations in the nineteenth century.
However on 4th November 1974 a disastrous fire broke out and the whole of the magnificent interior of the building was destroyed.
Only the ballroom has been restored and is now used for weddings and corporate functions. The rest of the interior is now used as retail space and a cafe.
However it is the gardens that most people come to Powerscourt to see. They were begun by the third Viscount, and were extensively remodeled
by the sixth and seventh in the nineteenth century, and what a magnificent spectacle they are.
When you are standing on the terrace looking out over the Italianate Garden towards the Sugarloaf Mountain,
it is easy forget the gaunt shell of the building behind you, and imagine the elegance and pomp of previous generations.
But there is more: the Pepperpot Tower, a mock castle built by the eighth Viscount, the Japanese Garden, the Grotto,
the Walled Gardens and the Petsʼ Cemetery. Pets in this context including prize cows as well as ponies, dogs and all the other usual suspects.
All this plus statues and fountains galore, and some very fine ironwork.