The view from the restored and reopend tea rooms at Woodstock in Inistioge, Kilkenny. PICTURE: VICKY COMERFORD
The Tea Room conservatory in Woodstock Gardens and Arboretum has been officially re-opened to the public after significant enhancement works.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Tea Room has been closed to the public for some time. The Parks Department of Kilkenny County Council took the opportunity to undertake a number of enhancements on the much-loved structure. At an event on Friday, it was reopened by Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council Fidelis Doherty, who said Woodstock Gardens and Arboretum was one of the real natural and cultural jewels in the county and the South-East.
Cllr Fidelis Doherty cuts the ribbon, with senior engineer Frank Stafford
"Since the gardens and arboretum came into the ownership of Kilkenny County Council in 1999, they have been lovingly restored and the importance of having such a wonderful amenity of this nature available to the public, in terms of the benefits to our physical and mental wellbeing, has really come into sharp focus since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic," she said.
The original Tea House was designed by Richard Turner, the famous ironmaster responsible for the glasshouses located in the Botanic Gardens, Dublin and Kew Gardens in London. The construction was completed in 1856 and was described at the time as one of Turner’s finest designs.
This original structure was sadly demolished in the 1950s and what you see today is an exact recreation of the original design which was fabricated by the talented Power Foundry in New Ross in 2004. Since that time, it has remained a must-see for visitors to the gardens and is a much photographed location, while also offering the public the opportunity to sit within the beautiful structure to enjoy refreshments during the summer months.
Council engineer Frank Stafford from the Parks and Special Projects Office outlined that some of the improvement works included 'sealing of the curved glass roof, painting the ironwork, and the commission of a fantastic vibrant internal mural capturing Woodstock House in its heyday'.
"Other works include the installation of a Victorian style tiled floor, lighting and planting along with the installation of a stone patio area for outdoor dining," he said.
"This builds on the other improvement works which have been completed over the past number of years. To list a few, includes enhancements to the main entrance, upgrades and an extension to the playground, the creation of a woodland walk in the gardens, new information plaques at some of our more prominent and champion trees and a pergola seating area. Going out further beyond the gardens into Woodstock Estate, with Coillte’s agreement, by the end of this year the council will have also restored over 6km of Victorian pathways under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme."
Also speaking at Friday's event was Cllr Michael Doyle, chair of the Callan/Thomastown Municipal District. In acknowledging the work of the Inisitioge Tidy Towns Group over many years, he noted that all the recent improvements within the village and the Woodstock Estate add to the visitor offering of the wider area. He said he expects that this 'will give a significant boost to the local economy as we re-emerge from the lockdown and into the future'.
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