Fantasy in the Garden at Glantelwe Auction

Every garden is a fantasy landscape, to a greater or lesser extent. Each one tells a story. They range from the formal gardens of the eighteenth century, populated by Roman sculptures and Grecian urns, to the Gothic gloom of Victorian grottoes, right down to the suburban garden gnome. Because of the narrative nature of gardens there are few places where you will find all of these traditions in the one place. Auctioneer Sheppard’s sale of architectural ornaments and garden sculpture, which is on view at Glantelwe Gardens, Durrow, Co. Laois, from Saturday 24th to Sunday 26th June, is an exception.

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Glantelwe is a secret garden with winding pathways, hidden lawns, and hillocks tangled with Irish wild flowers. The Erkina river runs through the garden. There are bridges, an island, and suitably picturesque ruins. The ensemble was designed by Arthur Shackleton as a magical and mysterious setting for Sheppard’s annual garden sale, which is now in its seventh year. Expect the usual suspects from the pleasure grounds and gardens of Irish country houses including: 84 urns, 54 seats, 36 lions, 22 fountains, 19 troughs, 15 gates, 14 busts, 12 sundials, 9 eagles, 4 gazebos, and an alligator. There is something for those who come to auction with €50 in their pocket and also for those with €5,000 to spend.

Large bronze garden sculpture, est. €4-6,000

The name Glantelwe comes from the Late Middle Ages and is an Anglicized form of Gleann Tulaigh (the glen of the hillocks). It first appears in the Red Book of Ossory where, in the 1460s Bishop Clifford of Ossory is recorded as marking the bounds of his Durrow manor with named witnesses that were locally resident. Glentelwe extends along the north side of the river Erkina from the obelisk field – visible opposite Castle Durrow through a series of hillocks that encompass the local GAA grounds and terminates at the confluence of the rivers Erkina and Nore located a few hundred metres east of the gardens. In the early eighteenth  century it was Lord Castle Durrow’s racecourse from which the current townland name ‘Course’ is derived.

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