It is early May 2020. Like the rest of the world Killruddery is in lockdown. These are days of which tales will be told and in which we have time to tell tales once again.
I want to tell you of a dream, a plan and lots of goings on…
I write tonight in a huge glass, marble and granite structure that sits on the south/west facing gable of our home: the Orangery. We often sit in here by candle light of an evening, amid the Italian statues and potted ferns. Built in the 1850s to house statues and Victorian botanical wonders, this is a favourite room of musicians, bridal parties & joyful events. It’s late and quiet. The Gardens have had an extended winter slumber; like everywhere else it has not yet recieved its visitors this year. For the first time in 13 years of increasingly busy seasons…we experience a pause.
My four children are the ones who accompany me to the cutting beds or whom I see running about the sloping lawns on my return from the polytunnel. We wander in a whole new way, as if seeing the Gardens for the first time once again.
And I am reminded of what my husband and I set out to do.
When we began our journey together, we knew our obligation was to steward and preserve Killruddery, to sustain it so that it could remain the Brabazon family home. We had a vision of doing this with heart, we wanted to enjoy living here, to feel that our activity was relevant to the surrounding community – and we wanted to enliven the Gardens in a meaningful way.
Ultimately, this became a mission to carve out a path to a new era, to embrace changes, to allow for a more sustainable future.
Passionate about our wider community, we looked to the environment and started to learn how sustainability isn’t just a path – it has to be a responsibility and a way of life. We embarked on a great life experiment! Could Killruddery learn, develop enough systems and structures to feed itself, its visitors, its team – and one day stock a shop abundant with estate and local produce? Could we reduce our waste to minimum, could we live in tandem with the earth and all its abundance. Could we truly offer this all generously, authentically – share our inheritance, our home and evolve a place of great beauty into a nurturing attraction for visitors?
We took down the major private signs, understanding that Killruddery’s future was in how we shared it.
We learned that it was important how we baked the cake and poured the tea. Our menu must be guided by the season, our packaging chosen by how quickly it would compost and our events prioritised by how much joy they would bring our visitors.
Have we achieved this? Well if you have been here you can tell me. This estate is so compelling. All our visitors have their unique experience and feedback. There has been so much goodness here and celebration – and learning, but I think we are really just at the beginning!
It is this year that I feel like our dreams are coming true with three acres lush with vegetables and fruit and another in cut flowers. Our lamb, pork and eggs all pasture farmed with their effect on our beautiful planet in mind. We know we care. With the opening of our Farm Shop and all year round Café, the re-launch of our Farmers Market and new pop- up suppers and the stage ready for fine banqueting and events, I hope you will feel a vision is taking flight.