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.

Back to Resource listing

Mr George Russell, Fota’s last butler.

Patricia Butler, Treasured Times: A Memory of Fota House 1947 -1975.


In a well run house such as Fota each servant had a specific role and with that went a number of assigned tasks. The job carried the status of rank and this was also reflected in the work servants did, the clothes they wore, the wages they were paid and the quarters they were assigned to live in.

In Fota you can see how there was a hierarchy amongst the servants by comparing their quarters and workspaces. For example, the Butler, who was top of the pecking order, had his own relatively spacious room that he did not have to share. He also worked from a room called the Butler’s Pantry from which he directed operations and kept an eye on the other servants. In the latter years of Fota’s life as a private house things were more relaxed below stairs and the staff had a genuine affection for the house and their colleagues.

‘Mr George Russell, a native of Yorkshire, England, was butler to Mrs Bell for 45 years. “If Fota belonged to anyone it belonged to Russell” remarked a former member of staff. The butler’s pantry was a favourite place for anyone who had a message to impart, a problem to communicate, or simply had time to chat with the well loved servant.’
Eileen Cronin, A Sprinkling of Fota. Carrig Press, 1997.

Open Resource