Borris – An Bhuiríos – Burgage Land
1. Borris House dates to the eighteenth century and stands on the site of a late medieval castle. The house is also the ancestral home of the MacMurrough Kavanagh family, who trace their descent from the MacMurrough Kings of Leinster. Set in over six hundred and fifty acres of walled private park and woodlands, Borris House retains its place as the centrepiece of the village and its locality. Tours of the house feature either the “Incredible Mr. Kavanagh”, the Borris Lace collection or Lady Harriet Kavanagh as well as the private chapel and splendid reception rooms.
In the early nineteenth century the Kavanagh family adopted the Protestant religion and built a private chapel. This chapel is a three-bay single-cell church built in the Tudor Revival style, c.1820. Now detached, it was connected to the house up until the 1950s. It is built of coursed-rubble granite and has an undercroft, buttresses, and a truncated tower. There is a wide perpendicular window at the east end and a turret over the entrance at the west end. The interior retains its original fittings, balconies and rib-vaulted ceiling.
The site of the 2. Sacred Heart Catholic Church was provided by the MacMurrough Kavanagh family. It is a large, T-plan, barn-churchbuilt in 1820. The original church had smooth plastered walls and tall, pointed windows. The rusticated, granite, Gothic revival façade was added c. 1896. The interior of the church was reordered by Fr. Peter Boylan P.P. (1956-1985) and the building was re-roofed in 2000. The stained-glass window over the main altar depicts the crucifixion with Saints Fortchern, Brigid and Fiachra underneath.
Beside the church is a striking monument to Fr. John Beauchamp in the form of a pieta set within a Corinthian portico which has a tiny rotunda on top. Flanking the entrance to the church are concrete stands for parking bicycles.
The Catholic Girls’ School is a two-storied, five-bay building which dates to 1832. It has an elaborate Tudor-Gothic revival façade with crenellated turrets on the corners. The main feature is a slender, gabled, three-stage tower with an open lantern on top flanked by projecting porches. The tower is believed to be the work of Thomas Cobden. The building now houses the local library.
DID YOU KNOW – Arthur MacMurrough Kavanagh, probably the most famous of all the modern Kavanaghs, was born in 1831 having only six inch stumps where his legs and arms should have been. However, despite his physical condition he became a real all-rounder, travelling extensively in Europe, Asia and India and excelling at boar hunting, shooting, yachting and fishing and was an inspiration for the disabled worldwide.
Open: Sacred Heart Catholic Church 7 a.m. – 6.30 p.m. daily. Admission free. Borris House open on selected days during the year. T: 059-9771884 www.borrishouse.com (admission fee applies)