Thursday 13 December, 8pm, Offaly History Centre

Dr Ciarán Reilly

The History of Capard House in Slieve Bloom
Illustrated lecture and Christmas Social
Capard House
The lecture will be followed by Christmas refreshments. Cover charge for all €5 each to include lecture and festive refreshments. Savouries, pies, wine, tea, coffee. Booking advisable and come and meet friends on this happy occasion.

In the early 1970s Capard House in county Laois was described as ‘a house of only moderate interest’. This description followed the death of Charles de Jenner in 1970 which heralded the end of the Pigott lineage in the county which stretched back to the early 1560s. The 1970s were also witness to the subsequent decline of Capard’s fortunes. Sitting nestled on the edge of the Ridge of Capard, part of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, Capard House is situated near the village of Rosenallis. Since 2015 Capard has undergone one of the largest restoration projects of an Irish country house.

Providing an excellent example of the ever changing function and use of the Irish country house, for long periods Capard was very much a ‘seasonal home’ enjoyed by the Pigott family and their friends. These occasions usually centred on sporting pursuits where visitors enjoyed the hunting and shooting that the mountain terrain provided. For these reasons, Capard seldom featured on the trail of the travel writer or gazetteer, only briefly attracting attention during John Pigott’s elaborate construction in the late 1790s. In many respects then Capard remained unknown to the outside world and lay in the shadow of the other great houses of Laois.

However, Capard was central to the cultural, economic and social life of Rosenallis and the wider community over several hundred years. This illustrated talk charts the history of Capard House and estate from the arrival of the Pigotts in modern day Laois in the 1560s to its present day restoration. The story of Capard challenges many of the stereotypical representations of the Irish country house. Significantly, this talk will examine the relationship between an Irish country house and the wider community in which it was located.

Dr Ciarán Reilly is a historian of nineteenth & twentieth century Irish history based at Maynooth University. His books include The Land Agent, 1700-1920 (editor with Lowri Ann Rees & Annie Tindley) (Edinburgh, 2017); The Irish Land Agent, 1830-60: the case of King’s County (2014); Strokestown and the Great Irish Famine (2014) & John Plunket Joly and the Great Famine in King’s County (2012).
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