Tourin

Country houses were always adapted to reflect changing circumstances but in Ireland a surprising number of owners endured the inconveniences of a medieval existence, living in small rooms with little light until well into the nineteenth century. Until the late 1830s, when they commissioned a new house in the most up-to-date taste, the Musgrave family lived at Tourin Castle in County Waterford, an early 17th century house attached to a medieval tower house beside the River Blackwater. The family must have found the sudden change to the comforts of modern living was a considerable shock.

Downstream from Cappoquin and just above Dromana on the opposite bank, Tourin was owned by the Roche family, "persons extremely active in the Irish rebellion", until the seventeenth century when it passed to a family called Nettles. In 1778 the estate was purchased by Sir Richard Musgrave, MP for Lismore and erstwhile High Sheriff of County Waterford.

Musgrave is famous for rushing into print directly after the 1798 Rebellion, publishing his pondorously titled "Memoirs of the Different Rebellions in Ireland, from the Arrival of the English, with Particular Detail of that which Broke out the 23rd of May 1798'; with the History of the Conspiracy that Proceeded it, and the Characters of the Principal Actors in it. He assured his readers that it was compiled "from Original Affidavits and Other Authentic Documents" when it was published in 1801, a considerable achievement in less than two years even by today’s standards. At the time his limited view of events was a source of some amusement, Sir Jonah Barrington joking that Musgrave “was generally in his senses except on the abstract topics of politics, religion, martial law, his wife, the Pope, the Pretender, the Jesuits, Naper Tandy, and the whipping-post”. Despite the initial criticism and accusations of bias, Musgrave’s work is now accepted as an important primary source on the events of the period.

Completed in 1841, the new Tourin House is a handsome Italianate villa in the very latest style, possibly to the designs of the Waterford architect Abraham Denny. There are four formal fronts, all rendered and with beautifully cut stone details, including an elaborate cornice, which supports the overhanging eaves, and a profusion of coigns and string courses.

The five bay façade has a pair of projecting porches at either end, both single storey and framed with limestone pilasters, which in turn flank an arcade of three round-headed windows.  The remaining fronts are mainly of four bays, though the ground floor of the rear façade is of five, with a delicate bowed iron veranda, while the garden front has a more robust single storey central bow. Internally, Tourin is largely unaltered, with a splendid bifurcating imperial staircase of oak, which arises behind the hall. 

The five acres of gardens were laid out at the beginning of the twentieth century by Richard Musgrave, with the help of his friend the Cork brewer Richard Beamish. The fine collection of rhododendrons, camellias, and magnolias are the creation of Shane Jameson, his grandson and his wife (the present owners' parents) while a number of mature oak and cedar trees, and a champion London plane, survive from the earlier layout. The walled garden produces fruit, vegetables, herbs and cut flowers, and is home to an important collection of over 100 bearded irises, which flower in May and June.

Joan, the elder daughter of the 5th baronet, inherited Tourin. She married Thomas Jameson and their three granddaughters live in the house today.

Address & Contact

Tourin, Cappoquin, Waterford

t: +353 58 54405

e: tourin@eircom.net

w: www.tourin.ie

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