House: Easter – 30th March to 18th September daily 10.00 a.m. – 18.00 p.m.
Last admission one hour before closing.
Gardens open all year every day during daylight hours. Entry to the gardens is FREE. Admission fee applies to the main house.
No dogs are allowed. Cycling is forbidden.
Emo Court is a country villa designed by architect James Gandon (1743-1823), best known for his great public buildings, which include the Custom House and the Four Courts in Dublin.
The house is a magnificent example of the neo-classical style, reflecting the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome. The house is surrounded by beautiful gardens and parkland which were first laid out in the 18th century and contain formal lawns, a lake and woodland walks with many trees and shrubs including fine examples of Wellingtonia and Sequoyah. Visitors can also enjoy a variety of walking routes through the woodlands, including the Beech Walk, Margaret’s Walk, Via Davida, the Apiary Walk and the Clucker Walk.
Gandon designed Emo Court in 1790 for John Dawson, the First Earl of Portarlington. When the Earl died in 1798, the house was incomplete. No more work was carried out until the 1830s, when the second Earl completed the garden front and commenced work on the interior. Starting in 1860, the third Earl oversaw the building of the copper dome on the rotunda, as well as work on the interior and the construction of a bachelor wing.
When the last of the Portarlington family left Emo Court in 1920, the house fell into decline. The Jesuits purchased the house in 1930 and used it as a seminary. In 1969, the order sold Emo Court to Major Cholmley Dering Cholmley-Harrison who began the laborious process of restoring Emo Court and its grounds. Today Emo Court and its gardens are owned and managed by the Office of Public Works and make for a terrific day out.