Ballyhack Castle, Co. Wexford
Ballyhack Castle is located on a steep slope in a commanding position
Waterford estuary. The castle, a large tower house, is thought to have been
c.1450 by the Knights Hospitallers of St. John, one of the two great military
orders founded at the beginning of the 12th century at the time of the Crusades.
Ballymore Castle, Co. Galway
Ballymore Castle in Lawrencetown was originally a Madden tower house of the 15th century, to which a house was added in 1620. There has been major alterations since.
Ballymore Castle was built by John Lawrence in year 1585 on the land he acquired through his marriage to the daughter of O'Madden. The castle was damaged in subsequent wars and repaired by his son, Walter, in 1620.
John Lawrence Jnr. was dispossessed by Cromwell in 1614. he having espoused the royalist cause in the war of that time. The castle and much of his estate was given to Sir Thomas Newcomen. He leased the castle to the Lawrences for many years. On his death it passed to Nicholas Cusack of Cushinstown, Co. Meath. who sold it to John Eyre of Eyrecourt about 1720. The Seymour family settled in the castle around 1700.
The castle was modernised and a large house added in 1815. Thomas Seymour purchased the castle and lands outright from Giles Eyre around 1824. This family were to remain in possession of the castle until the early part this century. Mrs. Hale, a relative of the Seymours, inherited the estate, which was somewhat reduced with a large portion having been acquired by the Irish Land Commission.
Bantry House, Co. Cork
This marvellous house, formally the seat of the Earls of Bantry, has an
incomparable setting overlooking Bantry Bay. It is the home of Mr. and Mrs.
Egerton Shelswell-White, whose family came there in 1739. The Earls of
Bantry travelled extensively in Europe collecting treasures and objects
d'art which were brought back to furnish and enhance the great house.
In one room hang four panels of Royal Aubusson tapestry which was made for
Marie Antoinette on her marriage to the Dauphin: there is a Gobelin tapestry
which is reputed to have been the property of Louis Phillipe, Duc d'Orleans.
There is wainscoting of 17th century Spanish leather, brightly painted and
embossed, chests from the Indies, urns from the Orient. The effect is one of
an exuberance and enthusiasm which is infectious. Open every day throughout
the year. In the courtyard of Bantry House, an Exhibition Centre has been
This features the ill-fated French Armada invasion of December, 1796.
Barberstown Castle, Co. Kildare
Barberstown Castle was one of the first great Irish country houses to open
up its splendour to the outside world. The Castle was built in the early
13th century by Nicholas Barby, a heritage that embraces over 750 years of
Irish history. The restaurant at Barberstown is renowned for its creative
food and has received the RAC Restaurant Award for 1996/97 and also two
Rosettes from the AA for 1996/97. Each of the en suite bedrooms has been
decorated in an individual style and dedicated to the ordinary and
extraordinary people who have lived within its walls. The Castle received
Hospitality and Comfort Awards from the RAC for 1995. Golf can be arranged
at The Kildare Country Club and at several other courses nearby. Expert
equestrian tuition as well as hunting, racing, tennis, gym, squash and clay
pigeon shooting are all available in the area. Coarse, trout and salmon
fishing on the River Liffey, ghillies available. For the less active, relax
in an atmosphere of pure calm and tranquillity, deep in the heart of County
Kildare. Directions: Barberstown Castle is 30 minutes drive from Dublin
City centre and 30 minutes drive from the airport. It is an ideal first or last
stop on your country house tour of Ireland. South on the N7 take the turn
for Straffan at Kill. Travelling west on N4 take the turn for Straffan at
Maynooth. Price guide: Single IR65-IR85; double/twin IR121-IR130; suite
Benburb Castle, Co. Tyrone
The Benburb Estate has a long history', stretching back to the time of
theO'Neills , Kings of Ulster. At the height of his power, Shane
O`Neill had his main residence at Benburb, the site of which can still
be identified, overlooking the river Blackwater.
In the early 1600s' at the time of the Plantation, Sir Richard
Wingfield, laterVicount Powerscourt, was granted 9000 acres of land in
and around Benburb, including the village itself, in recognition of his
services to the British Crown. The Wingfield / Powerscourt family were
also granted another estate near Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, where they
mainly lived and where the Powerscourt Estate still exists, though
unfortunately the house was destroyed by fire in the1970's.
1611, as part of the terms of the grant of land in Benburb.
Wingfield Powerscourt built a castle and bawn at Benburb, which is
still in existenceand is now under the care of the D.O.E. (Historical
Monuments) who recently opened an interpretation centre in the restored
The house inside the bawn walls was a later addition, built
by one of the Powerscourt family in the 1700's. In 1877, James
Bruce a wealthy distiller from Belfast and a partner in the firm of
Dunville & Co bought the Benburb Estate in its entirety from the then
Viscount Powerscourt, and set about establishing his country home in
James Bruce made many changes in Benburb. In order to build his new
manorhouse, now the Servite Priory, he relocated all the inhabitants
on the South side of the village street, knocked down the houses and built
on the cleared site. He built a new Police Station in the village,
the Post Office and a number of houses, one of which the present Church of
Ireland rectory. James Bruce died in 1917 at the age of eight-two. The
estate passed on to his brother Samuel who lived in London. He immediately
sold the entire estate. After that it passed through a series of owners
without anyone taking residence until 1940 when the War Office
requisitioned the manor for the use as a military hospital. The army
left the manor in 1946 and Fr. Peter Moore C.C. Moy and Fr. Thomas
Soraghan P.P Clonfeacle purchased the estate on behalf of the Servite
Fathers in 1947.
When the Servites took over the estate, now
reduced through various Land Acts to about 100 acres, it was originally
used as a seminary for training student priests. At its peak, around 1960,
there were as many as 100 priests and students in Benburb. In 1967 the
Servites acquired premises in Dublin, and transferred the students to the
The estate a Benburb fell into comparative disuse, with a community
of about 10 Servites still living in the main house. In the 1980's the
Servites decided to release the buildings which had been used by the
students, for use by the wider community.
A new community group, the Benburb Centre, came into being in 1985. The
Benburb Centre is a registered charity and has become a company limited
by guarantee. It is managed by a voluntary Board, composed of
representatives of both communities, and its main aim is to promote good
community relations between the two traditions in Northern Ireland. In the
past, both communities have shared the history of the area though at
different times. It is the goal of the Benburb Centre that, in the years
ahead, the two communities will share the future together.
Blackrock Castle, Co. Cork
It is perhaps a little ironical that the most complete building of its type
in the County of Cork, and incidentally one of the city's best known
landmarks, is not truly a castle at all. As is evidenced by the
commemorative stone on its entrance gateway Blackrock 'Castle' was built by
the Corporation in the earlier part of the 19th century.
The original 'Castle' is indicated as having been a fort, erected by Lord
Deputy Mountjoy in 1604 as much to defend himself against the citizens of Cork
- who had showed rebellious
inclinations the year before when they refused to acknowledge King James I as
their new monarch following the
unlamented death of Queen Elizabeth - as against the threat of a new Spanish
invasion. In fact, there was already a castle or fort on the site which
merely renovated and put in a more defensible position. This is supported by
a document which petitioned the Queen in 1585 stating that Cork had a fort
called Blackrock' which the citizens maintain with artillery to resist
pirates and other invaders.'
This building had a beacon light from a turf fire to guide shipping. In 1722
the old tower was destroyed by fire and a new one built by the citizens.
The second building was also destroyed by a fire in 1827, and was again rebuilt
by the city fathers at a cost of
about 1,000 pounds.
Bunratty Castle, Co. Clare
The three murder holes located in the walls of
what was once the strongest castle in Munster enabled defenders to pour
boiling water on attackers below.
The Vikings first set up a trading post on the castle site in 950.
The MacNamara Clan built the great keep
at Bunratty in 1425 and it subsequently fell into the hands of the
O'Briens, Princes of Thomond.
The Anglo Irish Studdart family acquired the castle in 1720. They lived in the
castle until the 19th century when they abandoned it and built Bunratty House,
which stands on a hill at the opposite end from the castle.
In 1954 Lord Gort purchased the castle and restored it to its present condition.
It is now part of the renowned Bunratty Folk Park and is open to the public
year round. Twice nightly (subject to demand) banquets are held with a four
course meal, wine and music following the tradition of hospitality surrounded
by splendour at Bunratty.