The private isle of Lambay is an extraordinary place. An ancient volcano formed 350 million years ago when two tectonic plates collided to form Ireland and the UK. After a wild history of Neolithic crafts, Vikings, pirates, monasteries, prisoner-of-war camps, shipwrecks and coastguard stations, the island came into the hands of a newly-wed couple in 1904. Their hobbies were literature, music, painting, archery, and their passions were natural history, intelligent wit, creativity, compassion and bold thinking.
Their names were Cecil and Maude Baring, 3rd Baron & Lady Revelstoke, and they both came from wealthy families in England and America. Together with the visionary architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, they embarked on a project that would immortalise their love story and survive for generations after they were gone.
They turned Lambay into a beautiful home and destination for creative and bold minds: the 15th Century fort became a Romantic Castle with plumbing and open fires in every room; the Coastguard Cottages were renovated for residents, a working farm was built and the stunning 14th Century Chapel brought back to life. They chose to leave no expense spared in creating a magical place committed to creativity, quality of craft and attention to detail. They had a vision, and they made it a reality.
Lambay became their secret haven; a paradise of birds, wildlife and stunning architecture where they could immerse themselves and their friends in creativity and pursuit of a life less ordinary.
Lutyens was well known for his attention to detail, as well as his enormous respect for the site on which he designed new buildings. In every aspect of the work he did on Lambay, you can see the care he took to honour the island and create buildings that worked in perfect harmony with their natural environment.
The result is truly exceptional. In the gardens, an abundance of bees, butterflies, insects and moths pollinate the terraced flowerbeds and pocket courtyards that are bursting with roses, lavender, bay trees and wild plants. Meanwhile swallows, terns and sparrows swoop joyfully beneath the canopy of the sycamore woods around the Castle.
On the wilder parts of the island seals, puffins, cormorants, kittiwakes, shags and gulls mingle with deer, wallabies and free roaming cattle and sheep. In Spring the island is covered in a rich, purple haze of bluebells; in Summer the bright yellow gorse flowers pepper the hillside. And in Winter the stark skeletons of the woodland trees stand proudly against the timeless elegance of the Lutyens architecture and rampart walls, made of the island's own green-flecked porphyry rock.
The entire island is off-grid, powered by wind and solar energy for all its electricity and supplied by its own fresh spring water source, Trinity Well, which we also use to make our delicious Lambay Whiskey.
PHOTOS BY LAMBAY CLUB MEMBERS