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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Patty Butler joins the household staff in 1947

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


Patty Butler joined the household staff in 1947 as a house maid. Here  Patty describes her first day at Fota and the instructions for her daily work routine that were given to her by the housekeeper, Mrs Kevin.  Patty’s day began at 7 am and finished around 9.30 or 10.30 depending on how many there were for dinner:

To me the inside of Fota House on that day seemed like a palace. I felt very small but also very excited in the midst of all this grandeur!....There was a kindness about Mrs. Kevin that I liked at once and I felt at ease in her company. ...”Now Peteen, I’ll ring a bell at 7. Am. In the morning all the ‘gurls’ (Mrs Kevin spoke with a Scottish accent) get up when they hear my bell. You must go through the green baize door to the front hall and your first task is to clean out Major Bell’s study. You must also hoover and dust and polish the housekeeper’s room which has to be ready for breakfast at 8 am sharp.”

....In the family living quarters downstairs, there were about five large rooms. All of these, including drawing room, ante room, dining room, flower room and study had to be cleaned and hoovered, dusted, brass polished etc by 8 am. In the morning I had to wear a blue dress with an apron. In the evening, black dresses and aprons were worn. Male staff wore black suits. Mrs Kevin went into so much detail that I could scarce take it all in!

.... “The Gentry arrive downstairs into the dining room for their breakfast at 9 o’clock. At 8.45 am you must go upstairs to call a certain lady for early morning tea. This lady will be assigned to you for the duration of her stay. Work upstairs must be finished before 11 o’clock and then work begins downstairs”

Despite the hard work and long hours Patty remarked ...”it was not long before I grew to love Fota House, all its rooms and all its diverse inhabitants.”

Patricia Butler, Treasured Times: A Memory of Fota House 1947 -1975. ( 2004)

Open Resource