Kilbrittain Castle, Co.Cork
Kilbrittain Castle, was built by Mahon, king of Rathleann and a grandson of Brian Boru (from whom the O'Briens are descended) in 1035. It is located on the southern tip of Ireland in County Cork in a beautiful, quiet, serene setting.
Kilbrittain Castle has been occupied by Irish chieftains, Norman invaders, Cromwellian troops and Anglo-Norman planters. Kilbrittain Castle enjoys the status as one of the oldest habitable castles in Ireland.
Upon approaching this wonderful property, one sweeps down the the drive, through the gates to the forbidding stone facade and external double staircase. The steps into the castle were made uneven, to disuade invaders. Irish wolfhounds, trained as attack dogs, shared space in the guard posts under the steps.
Kilbrittain has a murder hole and a large round roofed room downstairs, heated by one large fireplace, were the guards slept and ate.
In the 1700's the second story of the castle was taken off and two stories were added to the original structure (the first floor). In the 1800's a manor house was built onto the castle at a right angle by the Protestant owners, since at the time it was stylish to live in one of these and leave the castle empty.
In the 1920's the IRA burned down the manor house. The original castle did not burn because the fire couldn't burn through the thick stone connecting wall.
Kilkea Castle, Co. Kildare
Originally built around 1180, this castle was completely restored in the 19th
century. Kilkea Castle
is situated in County Kildare, 40 miles southeast of Dublin, Ireland's capital
It lies on the Athy
road five miles northwest of Castledermot and was once the second home of the
Fitzgeralds. The castle grounds are supposed to be haunted by the son of
Silken Fitzgerald, Gerald
the Wizard Earl. The legend claims his ghost rises every seven years from the
Rath of Mullaghmast
to free Ireland from its enemies. This is a neat trick because the Wizard Earl
is buried in London!
A great deal of restoration was carried out on the castle in the 19th century.
The castle is now a
resort hotel and golf club. The castle has 40 guest rooms, a restaurant, two
bars, a health and
fitness center, a golf course and clubhouse, a helicopter pad, and conference
& wedding facilities.
Some of the activities include golfing, tennis, clay pigeon shooting, and
fishing. There are also four
horse race tracks within about 20 miles if you like the ponies. The castle has
gardens which you must see.
Among the castle's oddities is an Evil Eye Stone set high up on the exterior
wall at the back of the
castle. The Evil Eye Stone is thought to date from the 13th or 14th century. It
is a depiction of
various half-human, animal and birdlike figures engaging an erotic behavior.
Information and photo courtesey of
Kilkenny Castle, Co. Kilkenny
Kilkenny Castle, at the south-eastern end of the city, is a magnificent
building on high grounds beside the river. It was built in the thirteenth
century in place of an earlier fortress erected by Strongbow . Though much
altered, the structure retains the lines of a medievel fortress. Today it
forms three sides of a quadrangle, and three of the four original round
corner towers remain. From the fourteenth century the castle was the main
seat of the Butlers, the Earls and Dukes of Ormonde, who play a large part
in Irish history. Today the castle is in state care, having been handed over
to the city of Kilkenny by the Marquess of Ormonde, prior to restoration and
opening to the public. In the old castle stables is the Kilkenny Design
Centre where an exhibition hall is open to visitors.
Before the Normans came in the 12th century, Kilkenny's houses clung to the
6th century monastery of St Canice and the settlement was the capital of
Ossory, a subkingdom of Leinster. But the strategic possibilities of the
hilltop site were quickly grasped by William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, who
built a castle there in 1192.
At times, kilkenny vied with Dublin in importance, and numerous Irish
parliaments were held there. In 1391 the lordship was brought by James
Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormonde, one of a family that figured prominently in
Ireland's uneasy history.
The Castle was the principal seat of the Ormondes from 1391 to 1935, and
during that time evolved from medieval castle to Restoration chateau to
Victorian country house. It is this last period that most influnces the
interior. The long picture gallery with painted beams contains portraits by
Kneller, Lely, Van Dyke and the pre-Raphaelites. Kilkenny Castle saw its
last struggle in the Civil War of 1922, when it was taken over by
Anti-Treatyites (who opposed the treaty with Britain dividing Ireland). But
they surrended peaceably after two days. The Castle's creeper-clad walls
rear above the clear waters of the River Nore. Its great drum towers make it
look a mixture of a child's toy fort and French chateau. It occupies three
sides of a square - the fourth was destroyed in 1659, opening up a splendid
view across parkland to distant hills.
Killaghy Castle, Co. Tipperary
Killaghy Castle is a Norman castle which stands 300 yards from the village of
1206, it was a Motte and Bailey, which is still visible to the left of the
castle. The St. Aulyus lived there for
8 years and then erected a stone castle to take the place of the Motte and
Bailey. This had four floors and a stone spiral stairway. During Tudor times a
long house was added to the rear of the castle. Between this and 1800 two other
buildings were added, making Killaghy what it is today.
The original owners
were Cromwellian planters by the name of Greene who in turn, through marriage,
passed ownership to Despards and in turn to Wright. The castle has been owned
by Watson, Fox,Naughton, Bradshaw, and Sherwood. The present
owners are Pat and Maria Collins who run a Bord Failte approved Farm Guesthouse
with a nature trail,
walled garden, a game room, and 2 tennis courts. The property is encircled by a
stone wall and the
surrounding land is grazing area for the Collins' dairy farm.
Killyleagh Castle Strangford Lough
Killyleagh Castle was described by Harold Nicholson over a century ago as"..pricking castellated ears above the smoke of of its own village and towering like some chateau of the Loire above the tides of Strangford Lough." It could be said that nothing much has changed.
The village of Killyleagh grew up around a fortified tower, built in the 12th century by the Norman knight, John de Courcy, conqueror of Ulster. Today, it is the oldest inhabited castle in Ireland.
The castle has self-catering apartments within the castle's towers, provide visitors with a unique holiday experience. Hans Sloan, 17th century founder of the British Museum and Kew Gardens was born in a house close by and received his early education in the castle.
Over the centuries the castle has been extensively modified although much of the original fabric still remains. Most recent additions, made during the 1850s, have created a fairytale, gothic facade, resembling a French Loire valley chateau. Through the centuries, as castle and village grew and changed, Killyleagh played its part in Ireland's often turbulent history.
The Plantation of Ulster would see the arrival of Scots and English migrants. The Industrial
revolution would turn the sleepy fishing village - briefly - into booming mill town.
In 1846 the Potato famine would decimate the population. Today, the village has an unhurried pace, reflected perfectly by the character of the Dufferin Arms Coaching Inn, beside the Castle, which still dominates the 17th century streets with their rows of neat, slate roofed houses running down hill to the little harbour. Little shops still sell home baked bread and fresh local vegetables. A solitary mill still spins the best quality Irish linen yarn. And the clear, blue water of Strangford Lough still lap on the rocky shore.
King John's Castle, Co. Limerick
King John's Castle remains a most impressive Anglo-Norman fortification,
even after 780 years. This five-sided castle was erected in the
early years of the 13th century, probably between 1200 and 1216, as a royal
fortress on the River Shannon, and as an administration and military center
for the most westerly city of the Angevin empire, ruled , as the name
implies, by the Plantagenets from Anjou of France.
It was uniquely built for
its day, without a keep and with high curtain walls to withstand the awesome
power of the new siege machines. Its massive gate towers and drum comer towers
were state-of-the-art features
for the beginning of the 13th century.
Its corner towers and double-towered
gate-house reflect the architecture of castle building around the year 1200.
And, as the archaeological
excavations have shown, the castle was built on the site of an early
incorporating some of the earthwork defenses into the castle plan.
During the 17th century sieges the castle suffered badly. In 1651 it was
surrendered with the city to Cromwell's army. Patches of brickwork show
hasty repairs after the siege bombardments of the early 1690s. Many
alterations and repairs were carried out in the succeeding centuries. The
domestic buildings of the courtyard do not survive, except for remnants of
a 13th century hall and the site of what could be the castle chapel.
King John's Castle, Co Louth
This early Norman fortress was named after King John who visited Carlingford
in 1210. The western portion of the castle predates this visit and was
probably commissioned by Hugh de Lacy c. 1190.
A massive curtain wall divides the earlier western courtyard from the
eastern wing, which contained the living quarters. The eastern section was
constructed in the mid 13th century and has alterations and additions dating
from the 15th and 16th centuries.
The castle commanded an important
defensive position on the Lough but by the 16th century it was described as
in a wretched condition and remained so until conservation work in the
Kinnity Castle, Co. Offaly
Nestled amid the Slieve Bloom mountains
and in the heart of Ely O' Carroll country, Kinnitty Castle is one of the
of the O' Carroll family of which one Charles Óg O'
Carroll was one of the signatories of the American Declaration of Independance.
The family still maintain vast estates in Maryland. In the mid 1890's Montgomery
Hitchcock and family lived in Kinnitty. Little was it known at the time
that his son Rex Ingram would go to Hollywood to become a noted director
of spectacular silent movies. Still in existence today on the Estate are
the remains of an ancient Augustinian monastery and ancient Celtic Cross
dating from the 7th century. The high cross depicts the presentation in
the temple and the crucifixion on the east face, Adam and Eve and intertwining
birds. Kinnitty located in the centre of Ireland is an ideal base from
which to explore many sites and trails. The estate itself includes 65 acres
of parkland, formal gardens and a walled-in garden.
Tastefully refurbished and in keeping with its old world style
Kinnitty Castle, once home to the Bernard Family has been transformed into
a magnificent country residence. Incorporating ten ensuite bedrooms, they
retain their original dimensions in keeping with the period of the Castle.
Excellent cuisine, fine wines, open log fires and candlelight together
a very warm and friendly welcome create an atmosphers and hospitality that
is special to Kinnitty Castle. Wildlife is abundant
and undisturbed. Leisure facilities include tennis, fishing, shooting and
a fully equipped health and leisure centre. Esquestrian holidays are a
speciality providing numerous equestrian activities including tuition,
trailing and trekking. The old Estate encompasses 10,000 acres which are
directly accessible from the Castle where guests can wander through unspoilt
woodland on horseback and lose themselves in the peace and tranquillity
of their surroundings.
Knappogue Castle, Co. Clare
Knappogue was built by Sean MacNamara, son of Sioda who built Bunratty, in 1467.
Sean, Lord of Clancullen's reputation for lavish parties and royal
entertainment surpassed even the reputation of his father for hospitality and
In 1571 the castle became the seat of the MacNamara Clan, Earls of West
Douglas MacNamara was a leader of the 1641 rebellion and the castle was
occupied by the Cromwellian forces. Arthur Smith was then granted the castle
but it was later returned to the MacNamaras.
The MacNamara Clan sold the castle to the Scotts in 1800.
The castle is open to the public May through October and twice nightly during
this time medieval banquets are held, subject to demand. The theme of the
entertainment at these banquets is the story of the women of Ireland, from
pirate queen to saints to sinners.