Primary Resources

This resource gallery has been developed to be used for pre visit preparatory work and for post visit reference. You will find a range of primary documents and material here that links to the themes in each unit. By clicking on any image below you can access background information on the source and also find out where it came from and where it is currently held.

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Fota House


John Smith Barry was responsible for enlarging Fota house from the modest 18th century hunting lodge into the grand country seat we see today. He developed Fota by building sea walls, the demesne wall and also by developing the island into an estate of parks, plantations and pleasure grounds. The entrance front was increased in length by adding an extra bay or window and a new wing at either end.
 Famed for his entertaining, this colourful character was renowned for his hospitality and was known as ‘John the Magnificent’. Initially it was proposed that the new design for Fota would reflect the current fashion for Tudor revival, however a more elegant Regency styles was ultimately chosen.
Writing in 1933, Lord Barrymore gave the following account of his grandfather:

John really made Fota, building the wings to the little square house which was only the length of the present hall; constructing the sea walls, the demesne walls, practically all the buildings that are on the island, making roads, taking up small tenant’s holdings, and creating parks and plantations and pleasure grounds. Altogether a great work and very well done. He intended to build a new house and left a space in the plantations at the top of the hill, near the farm, where the forester’s nursery is; but abandoned the idea, having spent money enough, and the site being rather a bleak one, scarcely suite to the health of my grandmother who was s delicate woman. The plans were all by Morrison, a celebrated architect of that day, but they seem to have been lost. I have however a rough sketch – woodcut – of the elevation which shows the Gothic Structure of the period, from which we were mercifully delivered.

Charlotte Smith Barry, Notes on the Smith Barry family. 1933

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