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Lake Park History



Lake Park House, situated at the edge of Baltynanima, was built in 1835 as a hunting lodge. Near Lough Dan, it was part of the Shelton Abbey estate, one of three important lake-houses in the Wicklow area. The others are Luggala by Lough Tay and Bray House at Lough Bray.   

 Notable literary figures are numbered amongst the previous owners and some have left accounts of their times there. The renowned poet, Richard Murphy lived and is said to have done some of his best work at Lake Park. Carlo Gebler, in an excellent memoir `My father and I` relates how his father, Ernest Gebler bought the house in 1950 on the strength of `thousands of dollars tied up in a handkerchief` brought back from the US where his novel `The Plymouth Adventure`was made into a major film starring Spencer Tracy. Unfortunately, his American wife of the time found the climate here inimical. Taking their son with her, she fled to the warmth of her native California and divorced him.

 Carlo’s mother is the great Edna O’Brien whose sojourn at Lake Park was  just five years or so but not uneventful. Before she became a writer, Ernest Gebler brought her to Lake Park as his `child-bride`, though as yet they were unmarried. The situation did not find favour with Edna`s family in county Clare and the couple were obliged to do a rapid flit to friends in the Isle of Man where they were pursued by a sizeable home contingent, including an abbot, intent on `putting her away` (in an asylum). Her account of her time at Lake Park reads like a cross between Rebecca and The Third Policeman, with a hostile housekeeper who favoured the first wife. Blatant thievery by staff induced sackings, followed by insolent counter-attacks and cowed retractions. There is a lurid account of the disposal of an invasive sheep in a nearby bog at night. When she first arrived Edna was unimpressed by the house: It was `not so very imposing` and, despite it’s name `it did not overlook the lake which lay about a mile down a twisted track.` Ernest informed her that, down the next valley there lived `a Bohemian poet who had poisoned one of his many wives.` You can read all this and more in her wonderful memoir `The Country Girl.` She quickly surpassed Ernest as a writer and the marriage didn’t last. Their sons, Carlo and his brother Sasha were born at Lake Park. Carlo recalls fishing with his father on Lough Dan (a fraught experience). More happily, he writes of his enchantment by the stained glass in the fanlight over the main door — `amber, indigo, yellow and red` which produced `a quiet sense of elation.`The current, very elegant fanlight has no stained glass.

Over the years the house has, naturally, had a succession of owners, some of whom retained part of the lands for themselves when selling on. There is more direct access to the lake now, no longer approached by the aforementioned twisted track. Part of the earlier avenue is still visible on adjoining land belonging to a former owner. Just recently, in 2017, a new family has acquired the property, fortunate in that the previous owner has done some excellent restoration work. The walled gardens have been renewed and the whole estate re invigorated by planting, under the direction of the noted designer, Daphne Levigne Shakelton. There are 110 acres in the present estate which is a haven for wildlife. It includes some ancient, oak woodlands, from before the 16th century — a rarity in this country.    

 

Thanks to Carmel for above text


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