From a legendary curse to a mysterious crystal ball, Kay Doyle examines the rich history of Curraghmore House in Co. Waterford.

All wedding anniversaries are special, but this July will mark the union of one of Waterford’s most significant family pairings – the de la Poers and the Beresfords. The Power-Beresford lineage is synonymous with Curraghmore House, seat of the Marquis of Waterford which nestles on the outskirts of Portlaw in the the Deise city.
Curraghmore House is a real gem in the jewel of Waterford’s crown. Only a few minutes drive outside the city itself, it operates tours for the public to come and enjoy the splendour of its magnificent formal gardens, grazing fields and woodland (the estate is over 2,500 acres), some of the reception rooms in the main house and the very special Shell House.

Curraghmore is the largest private demesne in Ireland. It also boasts King John’s Bridge – the oldest bridge in Ireland (built across the river Clodagh in 1205 for King John’s anticipated visit to Ireland, although he never came) and a 180ft Sitka Spruce, one of the tallest trees in Ireland and wonderfully detailed Japanese Gardens.

On July 16th 1717, Sir Marcus Beresford married his cousin, Lady Catherine Power of Curraghmore, Co Waterford. Three hundred years on and the family line still holds, with Henry de la Poer Beresford, the 9th Marquis of Waterford now residing there. The significance of that pairing 300 years ago has brought its own story to Curraghmore, but the history of the estate dates back even further.

Curraghmore was originally a castle built by the Power family in the 12th Century. They had come to Ireland from Normandy after a 100-year stopover in Wales around 1170. The estate was part of a grant of land made to Sir Roger la Poer by Henry II in 1177 after the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland.

Local historian Julian Walton has an in-depth knowledge of the Curraghmore story.
“The Curraghmore Powers soon came to dominate east Waterford,” he details., “and for over a century either they or their nominees served as sheriffs of the county, despite an act of parliament banning them from the office. In 1535 Sir Richard Power of Curraghmore was granted the title Baron le Power and Coroghmore.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own (issue 5612)