Stately home in Donabate stakes a claim on tourism map

by Sylvia Pownall

Newbridge House and Farm in Donabate launched its new immersive experience last week in a move set to put it firmly on the tourist map.

The stately home is now under the management of Shannon Heritage, whose latest venture signifies a new era for Ireland’s only intact Georgian mansion set on 365 acres.

The Donabate estate brings to eight Shannon Heritage’s portfolio of day visitor attractions as well as four evening entertainment experiences which includes Bunratty Castle, GPO Witness History and King John’s Castle.

Visitors to the Donabate site can now bring its unique upstairs-downstairs story to life while touring the stately grandeur of the mansion with a guide who will take them on a journey through three centuries of Irish history.

The house, built for Archbishop of Dublin Charles Cobbe and completed in 1747, provided the filming location for The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.

Its Museum of Curiosities, created in 1790, is bursting with antiquities and oddities, including Captain Cook memorabilia, fossils, taxidermy, exotic shells and a collection of 19th Century Indian souvenirs collected by the family.

The 30-acre traditional working farm aims to preserve traditional breeds including Shetland and Connemara ponies along with pigs, goats, rabbits and birds.

The farm is brimming with new life with birthing season in full swing, and the farmyard hatchery where baby chicks are born daily all year round, is described as a “must-see experience”.

Ambitious plans to transform the visitor interpretation areas in the basement of Newbridge House have just been approved for funding from Failte Ireland.

Ireland’s largest commercial operator of tourist attractions signed a five-year deal with Fingal County Council in July 2018 to manage Newbridge House and Farm along with Malahide Castle and Gardens.

Shannon Heritage managing director Niall O’Callaghan said: “We genuinely believe this is going to be a star attraction on the itineraries for north county Dublin and look forward to welcoming visitors from all over Ireland, and the world.”

Separately, Tesco has just been announced as the main sponsor of the council’s flagship summer event, Flavours of Fingal, at Newbridge House and Farm Demesne on June 29-30.

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