Great Irish Interiors –3 X 25mins Episodes
A three part renovation series with a twist
Moondance Prouductions have been granted exclusive access to follow a number of multi-million euro historical building restoration projects around the country, through the eyes of those spearheading the projects. Focusing on the race to return the interiors of these buildings to their former glory, we reveal fascinating and previously unseen work done by historical interiors experts as they source, beg, borrow and steal furniture, artwork and precious artefacts for their sites in time to open these stunning buildings to the public for the tourist season.
Each programme focuses on either private or publicly funded massive restoration projects such as Doneraile Court, Emo Court and Kylemore Abbey. We follow the Historical Interiors experts whose task it is make the inside of these buildings look like what they did in the height of their glory. With the Historical Interiors experts often just working from archives and very little photographic evidence, they have to be creative, but accurate. Great Irish Interiors will involve hitting the road with them and seeking out the furniture and interiors that once belonged to these houses, through auctions, online research, searching warehouses and appealing to local communities. These interiors experts will do whatever it takes to get their building to match up to the photographic evidence that remains.
Great Irish Interiors is a first for RTÉ One. There are a number of other shows that deal with renovations – bricks and mortar, but this series is unique as the focus is firmly on the interiors, it is all about the chase, sourcing the right artwork, paint and wallpaper, furniture and reclaiming special treasures that tell the story of these great houses.
30th Dec: Great Irish Interiors -Doneraile Court 8.30pm RTE ONE
Situated at the heart of Ireland’s most haunted town, Doneraile, is Doneraile Court. Its doors have not been open to the public for 50 years but now, with the help of a massive restoration project, that’s all about to change.
2nd Jan: Great Irish Interiors – Kylemore Abbey 8.30pm RTE ONE
As one of the most famous castles in Ireland, Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, has served as a project of romance, a holiday home and a convent school over the course of its 151 year history and now, it is to return to its former glory with the help of a restoration by the team.
3rd Jan: Great Irish Interior- Emo Court 8.30pm RTE ONE
As one of the most prestigious houses of its time, Emo Court, Co. Laois was handed over to the state 25 years ago. Now, the team are tasked with bringing this palatial mansion back to its former glory.
Doneraile Court and Gardens
Partners in crime in all things historic interiors, Mary Heffernan, Historic Properties Manager of the OPW and Christopher Moore, a Historic House Interiors Specialist, race to renovate one of Ireland’s most coveted stately homes, Doneraile Court in Co Cork.
It has been fifty years since Doneraile Court was first opened to the public but this magnificent house dating from the 1600s has been lying idle for over 25 years. Now, with a 1.6 million Euro windfall from the State coffers, the OPW will finally be able to restore it to its former glory. But it is a blank canvas as all the furniture fixtures and fittings were sold off over thirty years ago. It is in dire need of structural work, windows need replacing and walls and ceilings rebuilt. This is Mary and Christopher’s baby and they are working night and day to restore the house – from carrying out paint analysis; to choosing colours that are in keeping with the original look of the house; to chasing down portraits and paintings from collections around the country. The local community is key here and Mary and Chris have built up strong links with locals who are donating items from the house which they inherited or ‘acquired’ over the years. Former residents of the house such as Arthur Montgomery will give us a fascinating insight into the history of the house, ghosts and all whom he befriended while working a caretaker there for twenty years! It is a massive challenge to get the ballrooms, bedrooms and drawing rooms ready for the tourist season opening day. But, Mary and Chris have form in this area and, having completed Castletown House and Farmleigh before, they are the best in the country at what they do.
Kylemore Abbey, Co Galway
This episode follows the intricate and painstaking restoration of previously unseen rooms at the majestic Victorian Palace and Kylemore Abbey in Connemara which were once home to the kitchens and day rooms of the Benedictine Community and their international girl’s boarding school. Today they are the focus and introduction to a stunning new €3m Digital Exhibition “From Generation to Generation – the Story of Kylemore Abbey” over the past one hundred years.
Featuring Historic Interiors Consultant, Joanne Smyth and Abbey and Gothic Church Manager at Kylemore Abbey, Eithne O Halloran who’s also a past pupil of the Benedictine School in Connemara, the producers follow their tireless efforts to create this stunning new extension to an already impressive jewel in the Connemara landscape.
Attention detail in the brief all of which is based on passion and personal experience of Kylemore Abbey by both ladies as they set about generating and amplifying a stunning new entrance to Kylemore Abbey and a series of elegant exhibition rooms resplendent of the Victorian home of the former House of Commons, MP and English industrialist business man’s Mitchel Henry’s lifestyle in Connemara over 100 years ago. Joanne and Eithne’s ambition is to recreate a stunning new series of rooms which will showcase the splendour and grandeur of the Abbey while wowing and enthralling Kylemore Abbey’s half million visitors annually. All of which must be achieved within a tight. The cameras and Moondance Production team follow Joanne and Eithne as they define the brief for delicate yet large scale restoration project. The restoration journey takes them to London in search of artefacts, furniture, soft furnishings and wallpapers from Mitchel’s Henry’s Victorian era. Meeting with antique dealers, researching artworks, replicas of the original peacock design wall papers which feature in prize artefacts and artworks already in Kylemore’s possession is first on the agenda. High energy meetings in Dublin with the renowned Matt Mc Nulty warehouse in Dublin is a treasure trove of unique pieces which may lead to the curation of iconic historical features.
Emo Court, Co Laois
Emo Court is described as the jewel in Co Laois’s historical crown. This neo-classical mansion dates from the 18th century and was designed for the Earls of Portarlington. In the hands of the State since 2008, it has received a multi-million Euro boost to open extra floors to the public. Although it is in better nick than Doneraile Court, this huge mansion is a beast of a project, and it needs a lot of TLC. Mary Heffernan from the OPW and Historical Interiors Expert Joanne Bannon are tasked with making this happen, from researching what finishes to use on the stunning staircase; to practicalities of opening a house full of priceless artefacts to the public. Armed with a multimillion euro budget, these two are in charge of restoring this crumbling interior to its former glory. The real challenge, however, lies in filling it with furniture, paintings and precious artefacts now scattered in private and public collections all over the country. We hit the road with Mary and Joanne as they beg, steal an borrow from some the State’s most amazing treasures and look on as they reinvigorate the interior character of these houses once more.