County Wicklow, and a long winding road set the scene for a very grand country estate. Russborough House has been open to the public since it’s owners Lord and Lady Beit gifted it in 1976, along with it’s fine art collection, to the people of Ireland. It is a national gem, ironically so since it’s one time owner Lord Beit was part owner in the Debeers Diamond fortune. The home has a very Irish past, with beer barons (the first owner), squatters (during the Irish famine) and English blue-bloods amongst it’s occupants (Lady Beit was a cousin of the Mittford sisters of Blenheim Palace.)
The Beits, for all their wealth, were also generous philanthropists, involved in various charitable endeavors. Living in, and loving such a house for 24 years one can only surmise that the Beit’s priorities were of a grander proportion than those issuing from pure material pleasure. It must have been a difficult place to remove oneself from with so much heritage and beauty to enjoy on a daily basis and yet they did so with finesse.
It is a large and rambling estate, surrounded by meadows and canopied by vast and fascinating ceilings. The green of the music room, with it’s Caucasus rug, grand piano and domed ceiling is memorable. The scaglioroli table in the reception space is a lovely example of the Florentine master trade. The plaster reliefs of the stairwell, in contrast to the sharp geometry of the Entrance Hall ceiling, crawl up the walls in a playful manner. Befittingly they lace their way from public rooms to the family room upstairs with it’s vaulted windows and central access to each bedroom.
The Beit’s favorite room, it is rumored, was the library. It is warm, charmingly decked out as it was when vacated; replete with books from the 50′s and 60′s, with griffins at all corners underfoot. The abundance of yellow and the wall-to-wall tomes in a square room of not too large a scale make it very cosy. Having said that I think I would want to be sticking my head around the door at the Picasso, Gainsborough and tapestries in the sitting room next to it; not to mention that music room.