Curraghmore House Shell Grotto

Useful Information

Location: At Portlaw, 20 km west of Waterford.
(52.287716, -7.323641)
Open: All year Mon-Fri after appointment. [2007]
Fee: Adults IRP 2. [2007]
Classification: SubterraneaGrotto
Guided tours:
Address: Curraghmore House Gardens, Lord Waterford, Portlaw, Waterford, Tel: +353-51-387102.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1197 Curraghmore House built by Roger la Poher.
1644 start of construction of shell grotto.
1651 shell grotto completed.


Curraghmore House is an impressive manor sitting on the outskirts Portlaw with 40 ha of land. The word Curraghmore is the combination of the two Irish words curragh and more, meaning great marsh. This describes its location in the valley of the Clodagh river. Sir Robert la Poher accompanied Henry II in his invasion of Ireland. Henry II made a grant of the "City of Waterford with all the circumjacent province" to Sir Robert La Poher. So he became the ancestor of the Waterford family, the first Baron Waterford. His third son Roger is said to have built the ardent castle of Curraghmore in 1197. The de la Poers or Powers controlled much of the present-day county as Lords of Waterford.

The grounds around the mansion, Curraghmore Estate, is a superbly landscaped garden with a magnificent Arboretum. There are several interesting buildings, like the round tower situated on a hill. Is was built by the fist Marquis, George de la Poer Beresford, in 1785 to commemorate the death of his son in a riding accident. There is a bridge built in 1205 for King John to cross River Clogagh. But the responsible for the inclusion of this place in is the shell grotto.

The shell grotto or shell house was built between 1644 and 1651 by Lady Catherine Beresford. Grottos were rather popular among the aristocracy of this time, but it is exceptional that Lady Catherine built it herself. She used shells she had collected over years and worked hard for seven years to get the work done.

The House is open by prior appointment year round, Monday to Friday. The guided tours are usually conducted by Lord Waterford personally.