Farmleigh is a 78-acre estate in the northwest corner of the Phoenix Park in Dublin. I’m surprised the number of locals who say they’ve never been near the place, even though they (“We The People of Ireland”) now own it.
It’s a slightly mixed up place. Many of its main buildings have a certain old Georgian and Victorian splendour – the estate used to belong to the Guinness dynasty until they sold it to the State in 1999 – yet with all today’s visitors the grounds also have all the jollity of a family picnic.
Has Farmleigh itself ever been used as a fictional setting before? If it hasn’t, it has now, because it’s an interesting location for a modern crime novel…
(No, I don’t mean one of those English pre-war “murder-in-the-manor” Downton country house crime novels, with butlers and maids and strange old bell systems to the pantry or scullery, and the stomach-curdling screams coming from the West Wing and the body in the library.)
What I like about the location is this strange mix: Farmleigh’s layers of history and functions – as private home of the rich and powerful, and public park for the rest of us – and how various places within the grounds feel quite sad or haunted, particularly around several of its lakes.
Anyway, here are some of my pics of the estate. The one place I don’t have photos of is the Boathouse Cafe by one of the lakes – the tea rooms that feature as a setting towards the end of Another Case in Cowtown.
I can see the body in the water already, right? Maybe even thinking of the Ophelia painting by John Everett Millais in the Tate Gallery collection.
You can read more about the estate on the official Farmleigh website.