The Park comprises approximately 166 hectares and is an outstanding example of an 18th century landscaped park in the ‘Capability Brown’ style. Mature groves of deciduous trees, several restored water features and a number of deer herds can be viewed along the many pathways within the Park. The pathways are generally accessible for people with special needs. Doneraile Court, the former residence of the St. Leger family, is situated within the Park. It is opened to the public following completion of restoration works there is a Tea Room onsite (open 7 days a week) and New Large Childrens Playground. There are a number of free guided tours throughout the year, tours can be arranged for groups and visitors email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday – Friday 8am – 8pm
Saturday, Sunday, Bank Holidays 9am – 9pm
Monday – Friday 8am – 5pm
Saturday, Sunday, Bank Holidays 9am – 5pm
Origins & History
The town stands on the northern slope of Knockahur hill, which rises by a gentle slope from the river and gradually ascends to a rocky prominence. However, it was not this rocky prominence but one near the graveyard of Oldcourt which together with an ancient fort built thereon, gave the town its name, Doneraile, i.e. “Don ar Aill”, meaning “the fort on the cliff”.
The horse race known as the steeplechase originated in 1752 as a result of a race between the church steeples of the town and neighbouring Buttevant town.
There are only a few reported cases of women becoming Freemasons but one exception occurred in 18th century Doneraile. Elizabeth Aldworth, was reported to have surreptitiously viewed the proceedings of a Lodge meeting held at Doneraile House the private house of her father, Arthur St Leger, 1st Viscount Doneraile. Upon discovering the breach of their secrecy, the Lodge resolved to admit and obligate her, and thereafter she proudly appeared in public in Masonic clothing.
In 1829 the shooting of a local doctor, John Norcott, led to rumours of a widespread conspiracy to murder local landlords, and on the word of an informer twenty- one local men were arrested and charged with the alleged crime. Most were fortunate enough to be defended by Daniel O’Connell, who secured the acquittal of the majority of them.
Doneraile also has the distinction of being the town in Ireland where the first successful agricultural co-operative and creamery was established in 1889 by Horace Plunkett.
During the early part of May 1853, a countryman ploughing in the neighbourhood turned up a large quantity of silver coins, amounting to more than forty-six ounces in weight, which were purchased by a silversmith in Cork. They consisted of English shillings and sixpences of Elizabeth, with a few groats, threepences and half-groats of the same queen; also a few groats of her predecessors, Mary, and Philip and Mary both having the bust of Mary; English shillings and sixpences of James 1, upon the union with Scotland and exclusively of the rose, thistle, and fleur-de-lis mint marks; with a large number of the quarter-dollars and smaller money of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. Nearly all the coins were in the finest state of preservation, and appeared to have been but little used or in circulation.
Doneraile also achieved note in 1954 when a British journalist, Honor Tracy, condemned the local priest Canon Maurice O’Connell for spending the then exorbitant amount of £9000 on his parochial house while there was so much poverty in the village. Following The Sunday Times apology to O’Connell, Tracy sued it and was awarded £3000 in compensation. In response some 3000 of Doneraile’s parishioners marched in the village in support of Canon O’Connell.
John B. Keane, the well-known writer spent some years here in the 1950’s working as an assistant for the antiques dealer and chemist Arthur H. Jones and occasionally attending at the petrol pumps outside.