The best way to access the Swiss Cottage is to park your car at Cahir Castle and take the riverside walk down to it, cross over the bridge and duck into the basement reception area which obstructed the view of the servants who would bring over the food and supplies for the day, as nobody actually ever spent the night there. Designed and built by the famous Regency architect John Nash, it was commissioned by the 1st Earl of Glengall (of Cahir Castle) as an idyllic pastoral retreat, similar to the Trianon in Versailles, to be used in the Summertime. No expense was spared in building or furnishing this thatched and rose covered ‘cottage orné’ or folly.
Only the finest furnishings, specially made for the cottage, hand painted murals and the most expensive wallpaper in the world at the time, made by Dufour in Paris, were used to complete the fantasy which remained in use for a relatively short period of time until it was abandoned and the animals took over. Saved by an American lady Sally Aall (rip) who collaborated with the Irish Georgian society, it was completely restored and is now as good as new and so delightful you could imagine yourself moving in right away. A doll’s house fit for royalty, treat yourself and do go and see it if you are in the area
10 Hidden Gems near the Swiss Cottage
1 The Coronation Walk named for the George IV in 1821, runs from Cahir Castle down along the river Suir for 4 kms as far as the Swiss Cottage.
2 Cahir Castle, itself huge Norman Castle with a keep, courtyards and several castles with a castle complete with great halls, guided tours available during the summer.
3 The River View Restaurant opposite the castle on the far side of the bridge is the place to go if you fancy your lunch with a view. Nice and bright, fresh and airy with a good selection of home cooked food it’s one of my favourites.
4 Cahir House Hotel, when the Butlers abandoned Cahir Castle they built this house and lived here, entertaining lavishly throwing great parties until the last of the Butlers died in 1961. It is now a fine hotel with great deals midweek and a very good base for touring the midlands.
5 Take the Vee Drive up and over the Knockmealdown mountains from Cahir to Lismore for great views of Ireland’s Golden Vale.
6 Stop off at Bay Lough, a corrie lake carved out by a retreating glacier which is believed to be bottomless and haunted by Petticoat Lucy.
7 Next you will come across the Cat’s Bar which was a serious temptation for alcoholics who came for ‘the cure’ at the following.
8 Mount Melleray is a community of Trappist monks founded by the Cistercians in 1832. It continues to be a place of prayer and retreat and the monks offer quiet counsel or overnight stays at their guesthouse on a donation basis.
8 Cappoquin village is a delightful backwater on the river Blackwater.
9 Cappoquin House, visit the beautiful terraced and formal gardens there,
10 Stop into Barron’s Bakery whose original brick ovens are the oldest in Ireland. Still working they produce the best bread and cakes you will ever taste, nice, busy coffee shop where you can indulge.