MEMBERS and friends of the North Coast Association of the National Trust recently spent four days in and around Sligo, visiting some of the great houses and gardens in the area as well as other sights of interest.
The first visit, on the way from Coleraine to Sligo, was the notable walled garden at Salthill, Co. Donegal, the creation of Elizabeth Temple.
The following day was devoted to three magnificent properties near Sligo. First was Markree Castle, a massive nineteenth-century Gothic rebuilding of an earlier castle and house, now owned by Charles Cooper, whose family built it.
This was followed by the equally large Temple House, the eighteenth-century classical home of the Percivals, and, finally, Coopershill, a pristine classical mansion of medium size, owned by the O’Haras (but formerly called Cooper). In each case, members of the party were guided through the property by the present owners.
Day three began with a visit to the house and gardens of nearby Newpark, a modest eighteenth-century house in a sizeable estate, built in 1780 and now owned by Rosemary and Anthony Kitchen.
Following this, the party travelled to County Mayo and the National Museum of Country Life, a modern museum of mainly nineteenth-century rural artefacts, set in the landscaped grounds of Turlough Park, formerly home to the Fitzgeralds. Returning to Sligo, a brief stop was made at the attractive gardens of the Old Rectory at Easkey.
The final day started with a trip to Drumcliffe churchyard and the grave of the poet W.B.Yeats, from where it was a short drive to Belleek and a tour of the world-famous porcelain factory.
Closer to home, a stop was made at Holy Hill, Artigarvan, the historic home of the Sinclairs, but now owned by the hospitable Hamilton Thompson, whose family had previously been tenant farmers on the estate.
Among other highlights, which made this trip memorable, was an evening talk on the poet W. B. Yeats, by Stella Mew, a distinguished member of the Yeats Society.
Organisation, as always, was excellent and accommodation in the Sligo Park Hotel was first class.