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Stay in History
For two centuries Scart House has stood overlooking the clean, clear waters of Kenmare Bay, nestled between the McGillycuddy Reeks and the wild Atlantic. It has in this time seen great changes in the area, the country and indeed the world.
Although it is believed there was a structure on the site from the 1600s, Scart House as we know it now was built in c.1823 by the Jermyn family, wealthy Irish landowners from County Cork. The house in its current form was completed just a few years before Daniel O’Connell, one of the most important figures in Irish history, inherited Derrynane House from his uncle, just a few miles away in Caherdaniel. This part of south Kerry, with its rugged mountains and sweeping beaches, was to become one of the great joys of O’Connells life;
“This is the wildest and most stupendous scenery of nature – and I enjoy residence here with the most equisite relish… I am in truth fascinated by this spot, and did not my duty call me elsewhere, I should bury myself alive here.”Daniel O’Connell, 22nd October 1829.
O’Connell's duty included the tireless fight for Catholic emancipation in Ireland as an elected member of the British Parliament, and as he made his way to Westminster to take up his seat for the first time this iconic, historic journey would have taken him on horseback past the newly-built Scart house, on what is now known as ‘the butter road’ that leads all the way to Cork. This track traverses the hills above the house and now forms part of The Kerry Way, a much-loved hiking trail where any student of Irish history can retrace some of O’Connells steps.
Every August the Daniel O’Connell Summer School takes place in Cahersiveen and in Derrynane House, Caherdaniel. The School highlights the legacy of Daniel O’Connell, nationally and internationally, explores issues of importance to O’Connell and which are still relevant today and celebrates the rich traditions and folklore of O’Connell’s native south Kerry.
At the end of the nineteenth century the house was sold by the Jermyns to the Fitzgerald family, the descendants of whom still live in Castlecove village today. Under the Fitzgeralds, the house was a bustling, vibrant family home for much of the twentieth century, featuring prominently in the oral history of the village, with many local families having ties to, memories of or stories concerning the house, which they have generously shared with us. Through the Fitzgeralds descendants we are lucky to have a picture of life as it was lived in times gone by, from the downstairs master bathroom which in a previous incarnation was used to store the ‘turf’ for the fires, to the upstairs drawing room which was reserved as the ‘best bedroom’ and used by new mothers following the birth of their children.
Scart House was sold in 1993 to an Irish-German couple who commenced renovation works and lived in the house for 13 years, winning several national awards for their efforts including the rebuilding of the substantial roof with the original Valentia slate tiles. They remained in the house until 2006. Then, for nearly a decade, the house stood empty.
Scart House was purchased by the current owners in 2014 and in the following three years the renovation of the ‘grand old lady’ was completed and the doors opened to guests to enjoy this fine piece of Kerry’s architectural history.
A taste of the renovation... before (2014) and after (2018) photos of Scart House
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