A majestic old soul in Tipperary
The historic Cashel Palace has been painstakingly restored to its former glory
There is much to learn from old buildings. They are the caretakers of history for generations to come. It is why the preservation of great architecture is so important, because for every wall that falls into disrepair, we lose with it the stories it had to tell. And as we lose these anchors to the past, we are just trees with no roots.
Rooted in history for many years to come is one such building that has recently undergone meticulous restoration, courtesy of its new owners. Its tale began in 1728 when Archbishop Goodwin called upon Edward Lovett Pearce, the chief exponent of Palladianism in Ireland, to design himself a beautiful home. In doing so, Pearce created one of Ireland’s most impressive architectural ensembles: the Cashel Palace.
It is a masterpiece. And whether it be for the refinement of its Palladian architecture, its historical significance as an archiepiscopal seat for the Church of Ireland or simply the impossible beauty of its setting at the foot of the Rock of Cashel, it has its own piece of history to uphold.
While Goodwin himself wasn’t alive to see the original palace open its doors in 1732, you would like to think that if he returned today, he would be contented by the fact that his planned dwelling place is most recognisable under its new ownership; with every element of Pearce’s architectural mastery, restored as it was meant to be.
Of course, the very definition of restoration is to return something to its former condition, but in restoring the Cashel Palace the Magnier family has taken that brief to the letter. And then some.
The very definition of restoration is to return something to its former condition
When the hotel reopened its doors in early March, it wasn’t just with a fresh lick of paint and new curtains. Following international best practice, the conservation team has worked meticulously to breathe new life into the majestic old soul, working from the inside out and back again.
The equine art on the walls and a scattering of bronzes depicting racing greats act as subtle acknowledgements of the legacy to be left by its current owners. The location in the heart of Tipperary’s Golden Vale also offers guests the opportunity to visit the hallowed grounds of Coolmore Stud and Ballydoyle as part of hotel’s ‘Racing Royalty’ package. That said, while Cashel Palace may be classed as a mecca for the racing enthusiast, it can by no means be pigeon-holed as that. In addition to the restoration of the original building, it has been extended and enhanced to include a world-class luxury spa, a ballroom to host up to 200 guests and the finest dining at its hub, The Bishop’s Buttery, making it a destination in itself.
Indeed, modern amenities and services have been incorporated throughout the hotel to cater for the ever-discerning guest, but the real wizardry lies in the fact the old Cashel Palace seems just as it has always been. Master craftsmen have weaved their magic to bring back to life its understated grandeur, at the same time as fully servicing it with updated and efficient systems.
Of course, if Archbishop Goodwin was to return for a visit, he would probably be nonplussed by the superfast WiFi and high-tech audiovisual systems, but you can be sure he would feel right at home in the drawing room. Looking out of the restored historic windows into the gardens, he might also raise a smile at the mulberry trees, originally planted in 1702 to commemorate the coronation of Queen Anne and to encourage a silk trade in the British Isles.
Sadly the silkworms did not survive the Irish climate but the mulberry trees live on in the garden; their strong roots synonymous with the restoration of this important building, providing an anchor to our historic past.