Lady Freemason Book Optioned for TV Series

Great Island Productions, a TV production company based in Cork has announced a major deal with author Kathleen Aldworth Foster to adapt her historical fiction novel Doneraile Court: The Story of The Lady Freemason into a TV series.

The Georgian mansion, Doneraile Court, is the centrepiece of Doneraile Estate and Wildlife Park is situated in the Ballyhoura region. It is owned and operated by Ireland’s Office of Public Works and is one of the top attractions in County Cork. The house is open for tours in the summer after extensive renovations in recent years.

Doneraile Court The Story of The Lady Freemason Book

The book option agreement marks an exciting new chapter for the riveting, 300-year-old tale of Elizabeth St Leger Aldworth, who was known as The Lady Freemason.

"This is not just another story we're bringing to life," said Mark Kenny, CEO of Great Island Productions. "This is a captivating narrative about a trailblazing Irish woman that’s a thriller, mystery, and love story set against the backdrop of Doneraile Court in County Cork."

Foster's novel centers around a true incident that took place in the home in 1712. Elizabeth, the daughter of 1st Viscount Doneraile Arthur St Leger, was caught one night spying on Freemasons during a ritual. The gripping tale leads to unexpected twists and turns as the men are forced to make a life-or-death decision. Spoiler alert: The real Elizabeth was spared and later married her savior, Richard Aldworth of Newmarket.

"I wanted to delve deeper into the mystery of this courageous woman and her highly unusual involvement with the ever-secretive Freemasons, which is still primarily an all-male fraternity," said Kathleen Aldworth Foster, an American of Irish heritage. "The story has captivated me ever since my first visit to Ireland in 2006 while tracing my own Aldworth family roots in County Cork."

“Our partnership with Kathleen underscores our shared passion for engaging storytelling and historical intrigue,” says Great Island CFO/CTO Jim Robinson, who is also an actor. “As plans unfold for adapting The Story of The Lady Freemason into a TV series, audiences can look forward to experiencing a unique blend of drama and history that also addresses issues of gender and inequality still relatable today.”

Kathleen Aldworth Foster

Kathleen is a career journalist who first visited Doneraile as a tourist in 2006. Her personal quest for genealogical connections, mixed with curiosity about Freemasonry and a love of historical fiction led to the writing of Doneraile Court.

“It’s a really evocative book, one suitable for tourists, those interested in history, or anyone who fancies a rattling good read,” says Irish Examiner columnist Clodagh Finn. In her article, Finn writes “The beauty of being at a book launch held in the place of the real action is that we don’t have to imagine the scene so evocatively described in the novel, but simply walk into the room next door.”

Anyone visiting Doneraile Estate & Wildlife Park can see the newly revealed renovations of the ground and first floors. Doneraile court will re-open to the public from March 15th for the 2024 season.

Books are available for sale at the Tea rooms at Doneraile Court, nearby Café Townhouse Doneraile and Great ARTitude on Main Street, in Doneraile which is owned by Lady Freemason descendant, Mary St Leger.