Fota House Art & Collections

Fota House is home to exquisite collections of art and artefacts which offer intriguing insights into the lives and tastes of the 19th-century aristocracy.

At Fota House, you’ll see some of Ireland’s finest art and heritage objects on display, not in glass cases, but in the authentic settings where they were intended to be enjoyed. In our arboretum and gardens, you will find a unique collection of trees and plants, many of which were first planted hundreds of years ago.

Soak in the atmosphere and enjoy the beauty of these museum-standard collections when you visit Fota House, Arboretum & Gardens and learn the stories our collections have to tell about life above and below stairs in an elegant Irish mansion.

Fota House has been awarded full museum accreditation by the Heritage Council in recognition of its high standards of conservation and interpretation. The work of caring for and sharing our collections is always ongoing, and you can learn about this important work on our tours and through our behind-the-scenes events.

The Fota House Art Collection

The Fota House Art Collection is considered to be one of the finest collections of landscape painting outside the National Gallery of Ireland. It includes works by William Ashford PRHA, Robert Carver, Jonathan Fisher, and Thomas Roberts.

Together, these paintings represent some of the finest examples of 19th-century art in Ireland. They reflect international as well as Irish trends in style and technique, and they also contribute to our understanding of Fota House, its elite residents, and the wider social and political contexts they inhabited.

See 19th-Century Art in Its Original Setting

Enjoy viewing our wonderful painting collection as you explore the elegant rooms of Fota House on a guided tour. Whether you encounter our art on a Fota House Tour, our in-depth Fota Art Tour, or a study visit or school tour, our passionate guides will share insights into the paintings themselves, the lives of the artists who created them, and the residents who commissioned, bought, and displayed these impressive works.

If Walls Could Talk!

Fota House’s collection of hand-painted wallpapers is the focus of a permanent exhibition which reveals fascinating insights into the history of home furnishing.

Conservation and Recreation

The Irish Heritage Trust relies on expert craftsmanship and insights to conserve and maintain collections that include everything from artworks, wallpapers, plant collections, toys, kitchen implements, and garden tools.

As far as possible, we repair and showcase original items from within Fota House. We carefully select additional historically accurate pieces to help re-create scenes that would have been familiar to the house’s original owners. We also work to return items that were dispersed from Fota House to their original home. The Irish Heritage Trust is a non-profit organisation, and so all of this work is funded through ticket sales, memberships, corporate donations, and other funding streams.

Restoring Fota to Its Former Glory

Thanks to a generous donation by the McCarthy family in 2008, we are able to display seven paintings which had been sold and removed from Fota House as its fortunes faltered in the 20th century. When Tom McCarthy, of McCarthy Developments, acquired the paintings, he generously returned them to Fota House to ‘help the Irish Heritage Trust deliver a great experience for visitors to this wonderful historic property’.

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