Charleville Castle Tullamore

In January 1879 Frederick Leach recorded in his memo book ‘Saw drawings for the ceiling Dining Room Charleville Forrest’ and stated that he sent an estimate for this to William Morris. A few weeks later, on the 21st March, Frederick Leach and David Parr travelled together to Ireland, departing from Cambridge at 4:30pm on the Friday and arriving in Dublin at 7am the next day. After some sight-seeing they left Dublin at 1pm and arrived in Tullamore at 5pm where Halls, another of Leach’s men, met them at the station. Halls, Leach noted, ‘had provided dinner, etc’. Halls then left for Dundee to work  at St Salvador’s. On the Sunday, Leach attended the Protestant church in the morning and the Catholic church in the evening. On the 24th March he writes notes on colours and the time the job will take – ‘the yellow of ceiling make more a green. See pattern for this and the green . . . oak to be scraped all clean 650 hours for one man from 28th Ceiling 248  hours for one man from the 28th’. Mr Wardle, most likely George Wardle, a designer and the manager of Morris & Co., is also mentioned and it may be he who gave the ‘notes’. Leach recorded that the ceiling was finished on the 7th April.

David Parr also recorded in his diary for 20th March 1879: ‘Left Cambridge and went to work at Charleville Castle, Tullamore, Ireland. Dining Room ceiling (Lady Emily Bury) nearly 4 months’ and among the selection of pressed leaves in one of his notebooks are a shamrock, three assorted leaves from Charleville Forest, a palm blessed by the local Catholic priest (Frederick Leach mentions the blessing of the palm leaves in his memo book too) and two trailing leaves marked ‘From the wall near the Entrance Hall door of Charleville Castle, Tullamore Ireland 1879’.


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