The annual outing on Saturday 12 May 2012 was to Beaulieu House near Drogheda. Our first stop was in Banbridge where members had the opportunity to view the new Basil Blackshaw exhibition at the FE McWilliam gallery.

We had a very interesting and informative tour of Beaulieu House whose lawns overlook the River Boyne in the distance. The Plunkett family had settled here by the twelfth century and built a castle. It was in the mid-seventeenth century that the estate passed to the present owners. Richard Plunkett supported Sir Phelim O’Neill during the rebellion of 1641 when the house was used as their headquarters during the siege of Drogheda. Sir Henry Tichborne and his army defeated O’Neill. Sir Henry was then given a formal grant of the estate by Charles II in 1662.

The house still belongs to his descendants, although it has passed through the female line several times. By 1723 the Tichbornes had created the present rectangular house by adding to the original L-shaped building.

The entrance hall is two storeys high and is overlooked by three windows in the original castle wall, now in the interior of the house. Among the features of the hall were antlers belonging to the extinct giant Irish elk. Painted pinewood carvings of musical instruments form panels above the doors. The hall contains many paintings. One of Drogheda about 1722 is placed above the mantelpiece. There are also paintings of King William III and his wife Queen Mary II. Family portraits include Tichbornes, Montgomerys, Astons and Dennys. Family coats of arms were displayed in various forms.

The panelled dining room is entered from the left-hand side of the hall. Among the portraits are those of Richard Robinson, the Archbishop of Armagh and of General Richard Montgomery who fought against the British in the American War of Independence. One of two Dutch still life paintings contains a cat.

The drawing room lies on the right-hand side of the hall. Its main feature is a circular painting on the ceiling of Aurora descending from heaven in her chariot. The room contains china presented to Admiral Collingwood who took over command following the death of Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar. A relative married the owner of Beaulieu. One of the rooms beyond the hall contains information about Gabriel Montgomery who accidentally killed King Henry II of France when wood from his lance entered the king’s eye during a joust in 1559. Another of the doors in the hall leads to the Grand Staircase. It was made in Dublin in 1722 and delivered by boat to the house. Our tour of the house concluded with a bathroom and bedroom on the first floor.

Then members had an opportunity to view the small car museum and the walled garden, before leaving on our return journey.