THE spectacular backdrop of Duckett’s Grove set the scene for a remarkable look back at times past over the weekend, with the unique event entitled A day with the Ducketts.
Organised by Carlow Tourism in conjunction with Grange GFC, the event welcomed hundreds over Saturday and Sunday to the historic site to see what life was like in the Duckett’s Grove of the 1800s.
From period costumes and carriages to butter making, basket weaving, old steam engines and the stunning sight of the horses and hounds from Carlow Farmers Hunt, the event was deemed a huge success.
A wonderful atmosphere was evident all day, as visitors not only enjoyed learning about the history of Duckett’s Grove but also got a snapshot of Irish life 200 years ago.
“It was a fantastic occasion, a wonderful community effort,” said Clare Fitzpatrick, chairperson of Grange GFC.
“It was especially important for people who had family connections to Duckett’s Grove; people who maybe had grandparents or great-grandparents who worked there,” she said. “And also for the children, it was great for them to find out more about such a historic place in their own area,” added Clare.
She also offered a huge thank you to all involved in the project, including the organising committee, Grange NS, the exhibitors and the many volunteers who helped to make the event possible.
Stewards helped with car parking and manning the various stalls, while parents from Grange NS kept refreshments in full flow over both days.
The organising committee also got into the spirit of the event by wearing period costume, while many visitors also added to the atmosphere by donning their Victorian finest.
A falconry display, traditional dancing and wonderful music from various groups and individuals continued all weekend. Grange NS had an art display with children drawing and writing their own reflections of Duckett’s Grove, while there was also a wonderful showcase of historical items connected with the home.
A fascinating display outlining the entire history of the Duckett family, created by local historian and member of the organising committee Jimmy O’Toole, was another highlight.
RTÉ’s Nationwide attended on Sunday afternoon to capture the fantastic atmosphere, with the programme due to be aired in the coming weeks.
“We were very pleased with the organisation of A day with the Ducketts and the feedback from the large number of attendees was very positive,” said Eileen O’Rourke, CEO of Carlow Tourism.
“People stayed for hours at the event, enjoying the many aspects of the day. We were particularly grateful for the very strong co-operation received from Grange GAA Club, without which the event would not have been such a success. Voluntary commitment from many other local organisations and individuals ensured that the demesne at Duckett’s Grove was returned in a truly authentic way to the early 1900s,” added Eileen.
“However, particular credit must go to Jimmy O’Toole, president of Grange Football Club and board member of Carlow Tourism, who developed the concept from the outset. Jimmy also curated the hugely interesting exhibition and programme of events, being supported in all aspects by his family,” said Eileen.
A day with the Ducketts is intended to be the forerunner of another festival in Co Carlow’s calendar of events, focusing on the importance of Carlow’s big houses and their significance in tourism terms.
“The programme at the weekend illustrated the potential of this festival and the hugely significant story of the Ducketts in both Carlow’s and Ireland’s history,” said Eileen.
“All activities were presented in a very engaging way with the “upstairs/downstairs” relationship of those in the big house fully explored by Mr and Mrs Duckett and the period ladies and the many maids, cooks, stable boys, farm workers and craftsmen,” added Eileen.