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Thursday, 01 February 2018 16:56
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Disused Rooms of Strokestown Park House: The Old Drawing Room

As part of a new blog series we are exploring some of the lesser known nooks and crannies of Strokestown Park that are not part of the official guided tour.  For a behind the scenes peek into the fascinating history of an Irish aristocratic house and demesne, look no further!

Strokestown Park House as it currently stands was designed by Richard Cassells c.1730 as the epicentre of a vast estate employing many people. Lady Olive Pakenham-Mahon was the last of a long family line who had lived on the estate since the mid-17th century. By the 1970’s she was served by a single remaining maid and many of the formerly busy rooms had been left to crumble into dereliction.

Works carried out to restore Strokestown Park have been ongoing since the mid 1980’s and although the formal rooms occupied by the Pakenham–Mahon family are now open to the public with daily guided tours, there are many more rooms that still await conservation.

Some of which are more unusual than the standard 18th century Big House plan. For example, the old drawing room located at basement level is the vestigial remains of an earlier structure built by Captain Nicholas Mahon in the late 1600’s. This room pre-dates the classic Palladian architecture seen elsewhere in the house, with its low roof, ornate relief work decoration and built in storage cupboards, it is of a distinctly earlier style of interior architecture that is quite at odds with the spacious airy rooms seen on the floor above.


The old drawing room was once the epicentre of a more modest manor house which formed the foundation of Richard Cassells later grand design. This room, though built on ground level, is now incorporated into the basement of Strokestown Park House, and adjoins a simple stone flagged corridor housing the servant’s dining room, workshops and food storage cellars.

Despite the location and unassuming proportions of this room, the ornate plasterwork over the fireplace belies its original stately purpose. Carved wood panelling occurs in the built-in storage cupboards and two concealed doorways. The pattern of the wood work is mirrored in the ceiling plasterwork. The floor is beautifully tiled in a grey and black pattern.


This attention to decorative details highlights that this was not a room to be used by servants but rather was originally used by the Mahon family themselves as a place for relaxation, entertaining guests and displaying their affluent lifestyle.  As fashion changed, the old drawing room fell out of vogue but it remains today as a reminder that Strokestown Park House has gone through many alterations over the centuries and continues to evolve as a place to be enjoyed. 

- Colleen O'Hara

Last modified on Thursday, 01 February 2018 17:20

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