A Glimpse of Downhill Demesne

Where have you seen nature reclaiming man-made structures?

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Visiting Northern Ireland in October means a lot of unpredictable weather. As a result, we understandably saw a lot of rain (it’s so green for a reason!). Fortunately, we were comfortably snuggled in at a cat sit, complete with a fireplace. It was a great opportunity to catch up on work, but it meant we treasured the dry days all the more.

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One such non-soggy day, we rented a car and drove north. After an exciting journey to the rental outlet – including being unable to find the bus stop, getting off the bus too early and needing to walk an unanticipated extra kilometer along a very pedestrian-unfriendly road and across a very busy highway, and finally arriving only to find the shop closed for another hour (despite our prior pickup arrangement) – we were free to explore!

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Our first stop was at the Downhill Demesne. Even with our late start, the morning clouds hadn’t yet burned off, and we feared a grey day for our pictures. But at least it was dry!

Now, those who meet me quickly learn I love ruins, so this was a perfect attraction for me. And better yet: we happened to come on a free admission day! Yay, off-season! We were also early enough to have the place entirely to ourselves, and we delighted in exploring this old mansion with grass floors.

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The earl’s mansion was destroyed in a fire and later restored and used as temporary barracks for soldiers during WWII. A nearby temple was also constructed and used as a library and memorial for the succeeding earl’s sister. The Mussenden Temple used to have enough space around it to fit a horse and carriage; now the sea has eroded so much of the land that the temple threatens to fall into the ocean.

In the end, the sun finally did come out, and the rest of the day promised to be beautiful!


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