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Son of a King


To be born without arms and legs in the 19th centurywould almost certainly have spelled a life of misery. But Arthur MacMurrough Kavanagh of Borris House in Carlow packed in countless adventures. Born in 1831, limbless Arthur learned to shoot, paint and write. He could sail a boat and, strapped into a special saddle, became a fearless horse rider. He embarked on adventures in Egypt, Palestine and the East, and for 14 years he sat in the House of Commons representing County Wexford, then County Carlow. That and more, it was quite extraordinary. But then Arthur’s family came from extraordinary stock – the High Kings of Leinster, including Dermot (Diarmait) who invited Strongbow to Ireland.

Today the 16th generation of McMorrough Kavanaghs live in the ancestral home of the MacMorrough Kavanagh family, former Celtic kings of Leinster – and you can hear tales of plenty more colourful characters. Situated in the beautiful Barrow Valley in County Carlow, Borris House is one of the more picturesque country houses in Ireland. A stroll through the lush woodlands and gardens and a tour of Borris House will you feeling like you’ve stepped back in time to their very own Downton Abbey. Constructed in the Tudor style, Borris House was built in 1731 by Morgan Kavanagh. The Borris House guided tour will immerse you in all aspects of its history, from the original 15th century castle right up to the present. The tour also takes in the rich history of the MacMorrough Kavanagh family who helped shape the house, estate and village of Borris as it appears today.

A walk through the gardens of Borris House will take in the breathtaking views of Mount Leinster, the Blackstairs Mountains and the Barrow Valley. The newly-established Lace Garden takes inspiration from Borris Lace, using symbols and shapes from the lace as well as a white colour palette of plants. Around the house, visitors can walk along the woodland paths, enjoy the fairy trail along the way and visit the 18th century ice house.

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