Fota Frameyard Blog

Gardening, Nature and Heritage from Fota House

Lady Barrymore at the coronation of George V


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From Free Soil to Warm Earth – New York to Cork

It’s election time in the USA and while a  battle rages between the Democratic and Republican Parties our thoughts turn to things American. Perhaps this is a good time to look at the connection between a big house in County Cork and a big house in Geneseo, New York.

We can begin this story in another big house in London, where James Samuel Wadsworth and Mary Craig Wharton went on honeymoon in May, 1834.

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Fota Frameyard Sweet Pea


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Gabriella’s Choice -The Sweet Pea

Lots of Sweet Pea are grown in Fota every year. When the Frameyard is open to the public, some volunteers collect their flowers and make beautiful bunches of them. They don’t last long, as they are among the first items to be bought by our visitors. The scent reminds me of my Granny’s garden. It has the power to bring me right back to my early childhood.

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Behind the scenes at Fota – the Volunteers

According to the 1911 census, 73 people, excluding Lord and Lady Barrymore, are listed as residents at Fota House. This number of servants gives some idea of how many people it took to keep the house, garden and farm running. Nowadays, a team of volunteers, working with the Irish Heritage Trust Staff at Fota maintain the house and the frameyard.

The term “volunteer” comes from the French noun voluntaire, which means “one who offers himself for military service”. But while there isn’t an army of servants any more, our dedicated platoon of  volunteers work as house-guides, on the cleaning and care of the house and contents, in the Frameyard and generally answering the call to duty to help when various events take place. All seems quiet now that the house is closed for winter, but behind the scenes…

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