We went up to Farmleigh this afternoon. It was restored for the nation by the office of public works and is open to the public when very important guests are not staying there. It was bought from the Guinnesses for €29.2 million (ah, that property boom again) and it is a, not very attractive, piece of high Victoriana, in my view. I can’t help feeling that there are many other buildings the nation might have been better off spending its money on.
Nevertheless, as our politicians are fond of saying at the moment “we are where we are”. There are markets in the courtyard and events all year round. I have been consistently disappointed in the Farmleigh offering but the fact that so many other people regularly have a great time there keeps drawing me back. Today, wasn’t too bad. The courtyard was chilly and cheerless and the Santa unconvincing but the house was warm and manned by people in 19th century gear (I am a sucker for costume – I nearly died of happiness in Upper Canada Village). In the ballroom, there was a big Christmas tree and a choir were singing beautifully. All around were people like us with small children, spellbound. Children were sitting on their parents knees, rocking back and forth – their little faces all aglow from the cold weather outside. When the choir stopped singing, you could have heard a pin drop. Two childish voices piped up into the silence:
Childish voice 1: This is boring.
Childish voice 2: Yeah, this is boring, I want to go somewhere I can spend my money.
No prizes for guessing whose children these might be.