Special Interests:
Wedding Traditions
Working in Ireland
Irish Citizenship
A site is included in WEB FEET only if our team of experienced educators, librarians, and editors think it is an outstanding site in its subject area.
Irish Foods to Your Door Boylesports.com Rent a Car in Ireland  
Castles of Ireland
Cabra (Cormey) Castle, Co. Cavan

Cabra (Cormey) Castle, Co. Cavan Cabra Castle is a 3 star, Irish Tourist Board approved hotel, set on 100 acres of gardens and parkland. Formerly known as Cormey Castle, the property was bought in the early nineteenth century by Colonel Joseph Pratt who rebuilt it, and renamed it Cabra Castle. Cabra was once the centre of a 1000 acre estate straddling the borders of Cavan, Monaghan and Meath, though most of the land now forms part of the Dun Na Ri National Forest Park. Nearby, lies the charming town of Carrickmacross, home of the famous lace. The neighbouring town of Kells with its High Crosses and Round Tower, and the Georgian village of Slane are steeped in history. The magnificent complex of Bronze Age tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth are well renowned, all offer a glimpse of the area's colourful history and great natural beauty.

Cahir Castle, Co.Tipperary

Cahir Castle, Co.Tipperary Cahir Castle (mainly 13-15th century), now fully restored, was the largest of its period in Ireland. It has a massive keep, high enclosing walls, spacious courtyards and a hall, and is now an architectural interpretative centre. A guide service is available all year round, Building began in the early 13th century when the castle came into the hands of the Anglo Norman Butlers in 1375. The Butlers of Cahir sided with the Irish in the Elizabethan Wars, and in 1599 Elizabeth's deputy, the Earl of Essex, took the castle after a short 3 day siege in which the walls were widely breached by - the English artillery. In 1647 the castle was surrendered to the Parliamentary commander, Lord lnchiquin, by the guardian of Lord Cahir. George Mathews. Mathews also surrendered the castle to Cromwell in 1650 without firing a shot. Two years later the long war ended officially with the signing of articles in Cahir Castle.

Carrickfergus Castle, Co. Antrim

Carrickfergus Castle, County Antrim One of the finest Norman castles in Ireland, Carrickfergus Castle is sited along the harbour front, controlling the seashore. The mighty stronghold of Carrickfergus, once the centre of Anglo-Norman power in Ulster, is a remarkably complete and well-preserved early medieval castle that has survived intact despite 750 years of continuous military occupation.

The core of the castle, the inner ward and keep, was built by John de Courcy, who conquered east Ulster in 1177 and ruled as a petty king until 1204, when he was ousted by another Norman adventurer, Hugh de Lacy. Initially de Courcy built the inner ward, a small bailey at the end of the promontory with a high polygonal curtain wall and east gate. It had a number of buildings, including the great hall, and must have been very cramped, especially after the keep was built in the north corner.

Probably built in the late 1180s, the keep is a massive four-storey tower, 90-feet high, with a second-storey entrance. Its entry chamber, originally one large, poorly lit room with a double latrine and no fireplace, served as the public room. A shaft gave access to a well below and a mural stair led down to the vaulted storage cellar. De Courcy's curia probably used the third storey, another poorly lit room, with a fireplace and a single latrine. The fourth storey, a high, brightly lit room with windows in all four walls, a fireplace and single latrine, was the principal chamber and must have served as de Courcy's private quarters.

Following its capture by King John in 1210, the castle passed to the Crown, and constables were appointed to command the place. In 1217 the new constable, De Serlane, was assigned �100 to build a new curtain wall so that the approach along the rock could be protected, as well as the eastern approaches over the sand exposed at low tide. The middle-ward curtain wall was later reduced to ground level in the eighteenth century, save along the seaward side, where it survives with a postern gate and the east tower, notable for a fine array of cross-bow loops at basement level.

After being restored to the Ulster Earldom in 1227, Hugh de Lacy returned to Carrickfergus, where he remained until his death in 1242. It was almost certainly de Lacy who enclosed the remainder of the promontory to form an outer ward, doubling the area of the castle. Its curtain wall follows the line of the rock below, with two polygonal towers on the west and an impressive gatehouse with twin flanking towers on the north. Both towers were originally circular in plan, like the contemporary gatehouse at Chepstow in Gwent, but during the sixteenth century were cut in half and lowered in height to accommodate artillery.

A chamber on the first floor of the east tower is believed to have been the castle's chapel because of its fine Romanesque-style double window surround, though the original chapel must have been in the inner ward. The ribbed vault over the entrance passage, the murder hole and the massive portcullis at either end of the gatehouse are later insertions, probably part of the remodelling that followed Edward Bruce's long and bitter siege of 1315-16.

After the collapse of the Earldom of Ulster in 1333, the castle remained the Crown's principal residential and administrative centre in the North. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries a number of improvements were made to accommodate artillery, notably externally splayed gunports and embrasures for cannon, though these improvements did not prevent the castle from being attacked and captured on many occasions during this time. When General Schomberg besieged and took the castle in 1690, its importance was already in decline.

The castle was seized again in 1689 for King William and later by the French in 1760. Since that it has acted as prison, armoury and air raid shelter and is now open to the public.

Carrigeen Castle, Co.Tipperary

Carrigeen Castle, Co.Tipperary The oldest part of the Bridewell of Cahir dates from circa. 1600. It is the remains of a lookout fort, built in a commanding position overlooking Cahir Town. These ruins, consisting of a semi-circular tower and wall section, were incorporated into the Exercise Yards of the male and female prisoners.

The Bridewell (Town Gaol) was planned at the Summer Assize Presentments of the County Tipperary Grand Jury in 1810. The initial building cost of �251.12s was overturned in favour of a more elaborate, castellated structure, to emphasise the fact that Cahir Castle was the centrepiece of the town, and in honour of its fortress origins. This was the idea of Richard, Lord Caher, H.Sargint and T.Doyle. As a result, the cost of construction increased many times over. The creation of towers, turrets, battlements and a machcolation (defence mechanism over main door, through which boiling oil / fat were thrown on attackers of medieval castles) of handcut limestone was expensive and time consuming. The architect of Cahir Bridewell was Michael Bernard Mullins, who submitted his plans in 1812. The Bridewell was constructed between 1813 and 1817, making it one of Cahir's oldest public buildings.

The Bridewell is three stories high, with a cut-limestone spiral staircase in the main tower. It originally comprised five cells, two dayrooms, two keepers rooms and two exercise yards. Following the improvements and construction of the keeper's residence in 1850, the Bridewell comprised seven cells (five for males, one for females and one for drunken / violent prisoners), three storerooms, and two exercise yards. The keepers residence comprised a kitchen, dining room, sitting room, and two bedrooms. The buildings are enclosed by a castellated wall and entrance.

The Bridewell appeared on many notable publications due to its unique appearance and situation. An issue of the Clonmel Gazette in May 1827 carried the headline "two men escaped from Cahir bridewell". The men managed to escape unnoticed but were recaptured the following day. In 1837 The Lewis Topographical Dictionary of Ireland stated "the Bridewell is a handsome castellated building, containing five cells, one dayroom and two airing yards". The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland 1846 states "The Gaol is distinct and suitable in architecture. A short time ago, it was remarkable for its delapidated state and bad management, but in 1841 it underwent repair".

The reason for the dilapidated state of the Bridewell by 1841 was that the keepers job was a part time one in all Bridewells up to the 1840s. His salary of �4 12s was to be used, when repairs were needed, leaving little incentive for upkeep. When the accommodation and salary improved in 1850, the Bridewell was better kept.

Due to the lawlessness and poverty of the period vast numbers were confined at Cahir Bridewell over the years. In the year September 1825 to September 1826, one hundred and fifty-six prisoners were confined here for an average of three days (waiting for transfer to Clonmel Gaol), at an average cost of five pence per head.

Numbers confined continued to increase, peaking during the famine years, when five hundred and thirty- three prisoners were confined during one quarter of 1851. The prisoners were fed a pound of Bread and a pint of new milk for breakfast, and a pound of bread and a pint of skimmed milk for dinner. The local anglican clergy man was the inspector. Each cell contained, per person, one iron bedstead, one bed ticken and three blankets.

The earliest view of the Bridewell is an engraving from 1853, when the property was featured as a notable estate building in the auction catalogue of Cahir Estates. The Estate went through the Encumbered Estates Court, as it was bankrupted through town improvements and a lack of rents during the famine (1846-1851). The Bridewell was one of the 52 gaols closed by the prison authorities in 1878, as part of a nationwide rationalisation programme. The keepers residence was rented to local military officers, until the purchase of the building from the estate, by the present owners, the Butler Family, in 1919. The Family opened the Castle to guests, as a Bed and Breakfast in May 1976. The Castle is an interesting stop on the Cahir Heritage Trail.

Clontarf Castle, Co. Dublin

Clontarf Castle, Co. Dublin Clontarf became a significant location in Irish History, more than a century before the Castle was built. Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland, and the famous Battle of Clontarf, on Good Friday, 23rd April 1014, will always be associated with and central to the history of the Clontarf area. At the time of The Battle of Clontarf, the Clontarf area was wooded with a river flowing by. Many of the rivers in the history of Dublin no longer flow through the same area, as they were re-routed when the city was walled.

It all began when Mael Morda, King of Leinster, began to plot against Brian Boru. Mael Morda made an alliance with Sitric, the Viking King of Dublin, who was assisted by the Vikings of the Orkney Islands and the Isle of Man. Brian Boru marched against them and the great battle was fought at Clontarf. It ended in victory for Boru's army.

However, on the night of the victory, Boru was praying in his tent, surrounded by five men who were guarding him. A small group of Vikings who were retreating from the battle through a wooded area close the site of what is now Clontarf Castle came across the guarded tent. Realising who was being protected they killed all five guards and went on to kill Brian Boru, who by now was 72 years of age. Clontarf Castle, Co. Dublin

In 1172 Adam de Phepoe or Hugh de Lacy built the Castle as an inner circle of defence sites protecting Dublin. In 1641 Luke Netherville of Corballis (near Donabate) and an army of 12,000 men took possession of Artane Castle and village in defence of their religious beliefs. George, King of Clontarf, the then owner of Clontarf Castle joined in the rebellion. Netherville and George King seized a vessel believed to contain the weapons and ammunition of the enemy. After they seized the weapons they returned to Swords and a lot of the local farmers and fishermen joined Nethervilles rebellious army.

On 15th December 1641, the Puritan Republic General, Sir Charles Coote, led a troop of soldiers into Clontarf to quell the rebel activities. He found most of the ships cargo of weapons and ammunition in King George's Clontarf Castle. Then the massive sum of �400.00 was put on the King's head and the Castle was confiscated. Coote marched on to Swords and defeated Netherville and his rebel army.

On 14th August 1649 Oliver Cromwell granted the estate to John Blackwel, who sold it to John Vernon who was Quartermaster General of Cromwell's army here in Ireland. John Vernon acquired the property around Clontarf Castle which was a strong family base around the year 1660. The Vernons were in Clontarf for almost 300 years, with a family motto of 'Vernon Semper Viret', which means 'Vernon always flourished'.

In 1660 John Vernon passed the Castle on to his son Edward. Edward died in 1684 and one of his sisters took over the Castle. In 1695 a first cousin of Edward's, also named John Vernon claimed rights to the Castle. The estate was granted to him by an Act of Parliament in 1698.

In 1835 the original building was unsafe and a distinguished Irish architect, William Vetruvius Morrison, was called in to survey the building. He perceived the problem as sinking foundations and the building was demolished. It was rebuilt and the Castle as we know it was completed in1837.

The male line of the Vernons failed and the estate was passed on to George Oulton, through one of John Vernon's nieces. JG Oulton took over the Vernon estate and became President of the Clontarf Cricket and Football Clubs and later donated the grounds to the members. He had five children, two of whom are still alive and living in England. He died in the Castle on April 17th 1952 and the Castle was left to his son Desmond, who sold it to pay death duties and other debts.

The building was vacant for a number of years until 1957 when Mrs. Egan bought it. She sold it to Eddie and Gerry Regan in the 1960's. The Regans extended the Castle to cater for the wedding trade and growing cabaret trade, which was run throughout the year.

In 1972, Gerry and Carmel Houlihan bought the Castle and ran it as one of Ireland's best cabaret venues until April 1997, when the last cabaret show was staged.

The Castle was reopened in June 1998, as a superb four star hotel, with deluxe bedrooms, conference and banqueting facilities, Templar's Bistro, The Knight's Bar and The Drawbridge Tavern.

Gone are the days of warriors and fighting - today visitors will find a warm welcome and can taste the delights of culinary expertise.

Castle Coole

Castle Coole The family home of the Earls of Belmore, Castle Coole is one of the treasures of the National Trust. A magnificent neo-classical house designed by James Wyatt, it has remarkably fine interiors and exquisite furniture and furnishings from before 1830.

A Regency Saloon with gilded mirrors and marvellous inlaid woodwork is rivalled by a lavish state bedroom, hung with crimson silk, said to have been prepared for George IV. It also has impressive halls, staircase, a dining room of splendour and a delicately pretty Chinese sitting room. Castle Coole is set in a park worthy of the magnificence of the house.

Situated Situated 2.5km Southeast of Enniskillen on the main Belfast-Enniskillen Road (A4). Open Easter (Good Friday - Easter Tuesday) Apr, May & Sept: Saturday Sunday. Bank Holidays 13:00 - 18:00 Groups mid-week by appointment Jun-Aug daily 13:00 - 18:00 (except thursdays) Last tour 17:15 The park is open to walkers from dawn to dusk throughout the year

Facilities: Toilets, Parking, Guided Tours, Tea Room, Wheelchair access to ground floor of museum and visitor centre, Gift Shop, Coach park.

Cregg Castle, Co.Galway

Cregg Castle, Co.Galway Cregg Castle was built by the Kirwin Family in 1648. It was the last fortified castle (i.e. with high walls and turrets) built west of the river Shannon. We are situated 9 miles north of Galway City near the village of Corrandulla. Thus we are quiet and secluded on 165 acres of wood and farmland, and yet only 15 minutes drive away from Galway shopping and nightlife, and ideally situated for touring Connemara, Clare, Mayo and Galway. Fishing and horse-riding can be found nearby, as well as 4 pubs ! It is advisable though, to have your own transport, and wellington boots if you like walking in the wet times !

Clement Kirwin (of one of the famous 14 Tribes of Galway) built Cregg Castle in 1648. The world famous scientist and Chemist, Richard Kirwin inherited the estate in 1754. Remains of his laboratory are still in the orchard. There is a Queen Anne bell tower in the yard, also a delightful little chapel in the castle for which we are collecting museum items. After the Kirwans came the Blakes (another of the Great Tribes), who stayed until 1947. The "Great Hall" is 36 x 24 x 20 ft high with wonderful acoustics. It is the relaxed atmosphere, the music, the chat and the historic building which make Cregg Castle a memorable experience. With rooms at �20 to �30 per person, prices are very reasonable. This is a little more than ordinary guest houses, but considerably less than the average hotel. The spacious rooms are ideal for families, with children's rates set at 50% reduction (sharing parents' room). Children of cot age are free of charge. Home cooked evening meals (limited menu) are available. Some rooms have private bathrooms. Others are 2 bedrooms sharing one bathroom and toilet. This makes it ideal for families and small groups. The entire building is centrally heated.