In Ruin Reconciled
By: Joan de Vere
Available in E-Book only.
In Ruin Reconciled, A Memoir of Anglo-Ireland 1913-1959 (‘that country of the mind’), tells the story of an orphan girl adopted by Anglo-Irish parents and brought to live in the Big House of Curragh Chase, Adare, Co. Limerick. Her solitary childhood among “elders and betters” during the 1920s was relieved by visits to her grandmother in Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, and a brief schooling at Alexandra College, Dublin. Her father was a Chief Justice in the British colonies, so time was spent at vividly remembered locations in Cyprus, the Seychelles, Kenya, Grenada and Africa’s Gold Coast. After a spell in London, studying domestic science and working for an unorthodox Harley Street doctor, Joan de Vere returned to Ireland and marriage in 1936.
As well as celebrating an individual, the narrative memorializes a house and a way of life now gone. Curragh Chase, her father’s estate, was home to the de Veres from 1657 until its destruction by fire and eventual sale to the Forestry Commission in 1957. As the last child to grow up there, Joan de Vere recalls its owners and inhabitants – Victorian writers and philanthropists among them – with an intimate precision.
In Ruin Reconciled illuminates corners of life lost to the late twentieth century with memorable cameos of people and places, and is a fitting valediction to a family whose 300-year history is part of the landscape of south-west Ireland.