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Florence Court

This Early Georgian mansion was built in 1730 by the Cole family, who became the Earls of Enniskillen, and named after the wife of John Cole. Set amid the Cuilcagh Mountains, its white stone facade stands in striking contrast to the verdant green of the forests. It is considered one of the best-kept 18th century houses in Ulster. There is a central core, with two wings that were added circa 1760. The mansion is highly ornamented in Palladian style, with keystones, balustrades and traditional windows.

A fire in the 1950's damaged the house, but it was restored when it came under the ownership of the National Trust. In addition, family members returned many original pieces of art and furnishings to the estate in 1988, restoring the mansion to its former glory.

Robert West, a prominent Dublin stuccadore (plaster artist) created wonderful rococo ceilings in the Venetian room and the dining room.

His work on the staircase ceiling is also notable. The house contains an extraordinary collection of Irish period furniture as well.

The servants' quarters and kitchen areas have also been renovated, and are open to visitors.

The Florence Court Gardens are filled with a variety of semi-tropical and temperate climate plants. The grounds contain a park dotted with rare trees, such as the weeping beach. Irish folklore says that the grounds are occupied by "little people". The Irish yew tree located on the lawn is said to be the source of all other yew trees that grow in Ireland.

There is also a cottage on the property, as well as a sawmill. The Larganess River flows through the grounds.

On March 22, 1955, a fire destroyed two thirds of the interior of Florence Court. The blaze burned out of control as firefighters battled adverse weather conditions. Water damage was excessive, and local tradesmen saved the dining room by drilling holes in its ceiling to drain the water and prevent collapse. Those holes are still visible today.

John Cole, the 5th Earl of Enniskillen, and his wife Mary had gifted the house to the National Trust in 1953, because they were concerned about the future of the estate. Adverse events followed the family in quick succession - the 1955 fire, followed by the death of the Cole's' only son. In 1961, Hurricane Debbie wreaked havoc on the estate restoration process, and in 1963, both Enniskillens died within a three-month period.


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