U3A members visit Finnebrogue House

U3A members visit Finnebrogue House

1 September 2021

MEMBERS of Downe U3A’s Go Local Group on their recent visit were awestruck by the skilled work and amount of detail involved in the restoration 

of Finnebrogue House, near Downpatrick.

They have so often driven along Finnebrogue Road and past the gate lodge without realising the existence of the gem which lies up the drive — the historic house in a park setting with ancient trees. 

The current owner, Noel Lamb, told U3A members tales of the history of the house, which dates back to the 1660s and was until 1996 in the ownership of the Maxwell family.

During that time it was badly affected by a fire in 1795 and, through the 19th century Land Acts, by the loss of much of the land on which its prosperity had been based. 

After buying the house in 2011 Mr Lamb embarked on a four-year refurbishing project to bring it back to what it might have looked like in the 18th century when it hosted family events, court sittings, musical evenings, hunting parties and all the pursuits of the gentry of the day.

The restoration has created a home rather than a museum, but a home with a modern kitchen and solar panels which are hidden from view, and the U3A members were greatly impressed.

Bringing the structure, windows and plasterwork back to life was a lengthy and labour intensive process and is a great tribute to the craftsmen and women involved then and in ongoing maintenance work now. 

The U3A members were then taken on a tour of the main rooms where they could have spent a whole day admiring the collection of paintings and artefacts which Mr Lamb has built up.

One lady said: “These paintings are part of a home, so different from looking at them in a gallery.”

The U3A Go Local Group has enjoyed a summer discovering new things about places around the area and next will go on a guided walk round Killyleagh, led by Dougie Marr.

Downe U3a is gradually getting back renewing group activities as conditions allow. Outdoor groups, the crafts and culinary groups are as normal, table tennis hopes to begin again today and the others soon, dependent on finding suitable locations.

Reports of the recent visit by the culinary group to the oriental supermarket, with a chef for guidance, were so positive that a second visit is being planned. They and the Go Locals are going foraging at Crawfords Rock next month, with a fresh fish barbecue on the beach. For more information about Downe U3A, or to join, telephone 07570 103100.