Situated in Blessington, Co.Wicklow, visitors will discover fascinating stories about the occupants of the house and the beauty of the architecture and collections.
Guided Tour of Russborough House
When Russborough was left to the Irish public in 1978, Sir Alfred and Lady Beit also left the gift of learning, art, and architecture for everyone to enjoy. Today, we delight in subtle traces of a bygone world thanks to their generosity.
Our guided tour of the house includes 50 paintings and drawings in the world-famous Beit Collection and the Milltown Collection. Accumulated for nearly 300 years, the plasterwork, furnishings, and furniture make Russborough the finest great house open to the public in Ireland today.
All of the information that you need to visit Russborough House & Parklands is here.
Please allow one hour to visit the house and 30 to 50 minutes for the 3D exhibition centre.
Discover Some History
A guided tour of the house is an excellent way for visitors to discover Irish architecture, art, and interior design along with collecting and sociability from the 1740s.
There is also information about the house being constructed by wealthy Dublin brewer Joseph Leeson, the first Earl of Milltown, right up to the present day. Although Sir Alfred and Lady Beit donated much of their priceless art collection to the National Gallery of Ireland in 1986, the collection that remains at Russborough is equally precious.
During the Tour
Through the tour, guests will get to know the Beits, a colourful couple who entertained with great flair.
Friends and relations, people associated with the arts, the rich and famous from Jackie Onassis to Fred Astaire, the Churchills, and members of the Guinness family, were all recipients of their famous hospitality at Russborough.
The Self-Guided Exhibition
An interactive exhibition suitable for young and old alike
A few years ago, a fascinating discovery led to a completely new facet of the Russborough experience when five-thousand 3D glass negatives and cinema footage of Sir Alfred’s world travels were discovered in the basement. A team worked tirelessly to archive every last detail in order to bring something special to the general public. The result is the 3D exhibition, which honours Sir Alfred’s love of capturing magical moments with his camera and brings to light many other fascinating aspects of the Beits’ time at Russborough.
Highlights of the Exhibition
From listening to operatic delights and wire recordings and playing with an interactive map to examining pictures of the Beits with their glamorous guests and reading the comprehensive list of duties of the butler, there is plenty discover.
The exhibition includes a short film that starts in 2D and then moves to the third dimension. We display 3D images taken by Sir Alfred on his world travels in the 1920s and 1930s.
This private auditorium is arguably one of the most interesting rooms in the house, and was created by Sir Alfred himself when he bought Russborough so that he could share his adventures with friends and enjoy movies on the silver screen.
Visitors can also sit and watch fascinating footage from around the world in the glamorous 1920s at the touch of a button.
The Art Collection
When the Beits’ art collection was stolen, Sir Alfred had many copies of the paintings made. This room showcases the replicas of the oil paintings that were infamously stolen in the 1970s and 1980s. The originals of these paintings were gifted to the National Gallery of Ireland in the 1980s for safekeeping, where they can now be seen.
Visitors can learn more about the robberies at Russborough and how most of the paintings were recovered. The exhibition also includes Sir Alfred in an interview with broadcasting legend Gay Byrne, talking about the pictures and furniture contained in the house.
The Beit Legacy
Sir Alfred Beit obtained his fortune thanks to his uncle, who became very wealthy through diamond mining in South Africa. Through the exhibition, guests are able to find out about the charitable work the Beits undertook.
Russborough’s elegant music room upstairs has two grand pianos, a Steinway™ and a Bluthner™, which Sir Alfred played nearly every day.
Whether they were entertaining friends, listening for their own pleasure, or supporting the now world-famous Wexford Festival Opera, music flowed through the Beits’ life.
In this room, a wide range of sonic masterpieces including Bing Crosby and Giacomo Puccini are available to inspire creativity.
Travel – Leisure, Work, and War
In 1939 Sir Alfred joined the Royal Air Force. In this room, extracts can be heard from some of the many romantic letters that Sir Alfred Beit wrote to his wife during the Second World War.
On the touch screen, Sir Alfred’s and Anthony Hornby’s travels around the world can be followed. This interactive map explores each country that they visited and all guests have to do is touch the screen to hear stories associated with their journey.
Taking Care of the House and Grounds
Running Russborough House & Parklands was not for the faint-hearted. Organisation, hard work, and inspiration all needed to be in perfect balance to ensure that the house ran efficiently.
This room displays Lady Beit’s notes on parties, duties, welcoming guests, Christmas cards, and organising the staff who looked after Russborough and its parklands.
100 Years since 1916
New to the exhibition centre is 100 years in the life and times at Russborough from 1916 to 2016. These are captured in 10 different storyboards, each representing a decade in the last 100 years.
The storyboards show a vast selection of pictures and fascinating correspondence that gives an insight into the owners, significant events, fires, robberies, fairs, and stories from in and around the ‘Big House’.
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