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Built in the 19th century, Glenveagh is referred to as a "castellated mansion." Its location in a remote mountain setting (that must have been daunting to late-arriving first-time visitors) was inspired by the Victorian idea of a romantic highland retreat. First owner John George Adair and his cousin, John Trench, designed the castle.
Sited on a small promontory overlooking Lough Veagh (lake of the birch), it was designed to resemble Queen Victoria's newly refurbished Balmoral and includes a 4-storey rectangular keep with turrets. Its crowning watch tower is a hallmark and landmark in the area and can be seen for miles around.
The interior living spaces of Glenveagh reflect the previous owner's love for art. Many fine paintings line the interior walls of the castle, some by renowned wildlife artist, Edwin Landseer. Each room has its own style, color, and decor. The Drawing Room is a spacious formal room done in tones of blue and crimson. Custom-designed draperies form the centrepiece of color for the room. Area rugs and sofa covers are done in patterns to match the draperies. The furniture, from the Gothic mahogany bookcase to the Irish square piano was all made by local craftsmen. This room is the only space still used for public functions.
The Dining Room gleams with an abundance of silver. It has a sober elegance with handcrafted Delpht dinnerware and sparkling crystal stemware, the table that seats 16 already formally set.
The Study is called the Red Room, a luxurious space that reflects the owner's love for the deep rich tones of crimson. Two 18th century walnut and gilt mirrors, both carved as military trophies, crown the marble mantelpiece.
The Music Room contains and Irish harp dating to 1840; the Library houses four paintings by the famous AE Russell; the master bedroom, also crimson, contains a magnificent four-poster bed, while the bathroom displays two handcut Venetian glass chandeliers. (Each one require meticulous cleaning and could take two weeks or more of steady work. A brilliant shine was one of the demands of the owners).
Perhaps the most notable feature of the castle, though, is a simple chair located in the entry hall. There is nothing fine or exquisite about the chair...except for an odd contraption attached to one side arm. It is said that the chair was called the "weighing chair". When John Adair entertained guests, he required each of them to sit in the chair upon arrival. Here, he would weigh them one by one. Before departure, guests were required to sit in the chair again, where John Adair took a final weight. If he determined that any of them had gained too much weight, he summarily punished the cook for overfeeding them.
Admission: €3 for shuttle bus leaving from Glenveagh National Park, €4 for guided tour
Open May to September, 9:00 - 6:00 (last tour at 5)
How to get there:
From Belfast: A6 to Derry, N13 to Letterkenney, R250W towards Churchill and follow signs to Glenveagh.
Glenveagh National Park
Written by Joy Davis - Summer of Travel 2007