Ruby Townshend, Desmond Townshend, Geoffrey Prior Wandesforde, Robert Prior Wandesforde, Angela Prior Wandesforde and Errol Delaney, Castlecomer Discovery Park
Castlecomer Discovery Park was the venue for the unveiling of a significant painting by Kilkenny artist John Comerford last Thursday.
The painting is a view of the town and old Castlecomer House prior to the attack by Wexford Men during the battle of Castlecomer in June 1798. It was generously donated by Geoffrey Prior Wandesforde to the Demesne Company on a long term agreement. It is significant in that it is one of the only remaining depictions of Castlecomer before it was destroyed during the historic battle.
This painting from the Wandesforde Family Collection captures a pre-’98 setting, with Lord John Wandesford on horseback in the foreground, in the uniform of Grattan Volunteers. The high political hopes of Grattan’s Parliament were dashed by the atrocities of 1798. The painting is dated 1784 or 1785.
“We are grateful to the Prior Wandesforde family for donating this beautiful painting, which will allow the people of Castlecomer to see how the town looked over two hundred years ago. We hope it will help younger people engage more fully with local history and learn more about the 1798 rebellion” Kathy Purcell, General Manager, Discovery Park
Geoffrey Prior Wandesforde and his family were in attendance for the unveiling, including Desmond and Ruby Townsend. Local historians, community members and local dignitary Councillor Pat Fitzpatrick were also at the event.
The painting will be put on display in the Coal Mining Museum. Mr Wandesforde spoke eloquently about his family’s history in the town and the elements portrayed in the painting, especially the Old Castlecomer House.
John Kirwan, archivist and author of books such as "Kilkenny Voices from the Western Front 1914-1918" introduced the painting and its historical significance.
“We are very lucky indeed to have such a special piece of work on display here at the Discovery Park, the artist John Comerford was famous for his miniature portraits with many of his pieces now on display in the National Gallery of Ireland. It is quite special to see the town as it looked over 200 years ago” said Errol Delaney, of the Castlecomer Demesne.
The Wandesforde family visit also provided an opportunity for a special tree planting ceremony at the Park in memory of Captain RH and Florence Prior-Wandesforde and their son Christopher who was killed in France 1917.
A very special day for Castlecomer ended with afternoon tea provided by the Jarrow Restaurant.
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