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Castles of Ireland
Leap Castle, Co. Tipperary

Leap Castle Leap Castle is one of the most haunted castles in Ireland.

Though turbulent centuries, Leap Castle kept watch for the lords of Ely O'Carroll and still stands fortress-like on its perch overlooking a vast stretch of the countryside. It guarded the pass from the Slieve Bloom into Munster. From here the O'Carrolls set out for victory and defeat, here they brought their brides and captives, within lurks Ireland's most intriguing elemental presence - unique in that it is reputed to give off a ghastly ghostly odour.

The Gaelic name for the castle is "Leim ui Bhanain" - which means the Leap of the O Bannons. .The O Bannon clan were the first owners of Leap . Before the O Carrolls went to live in the Castle the O Bannon family were under chiefs of the O Carrolls.The Leap Castle is a keep.The keep it self was built in the fourteenth or fifteenth century Around 1604 or 1605 some of the territory of Ely O Carroll was attached to Kings County which is now known as Offaly.There is a rumour that an O Carroll daughter helped a Darby to escape from the castle and then married him afterwards

Following the failure of the Revolt of the Earls, in 1619 the plantation of Ely O Carroll took place. The English rulers settled the area with loyal Protestant Scots and Englishmen and deprived the local Gaelic population of their land. Leap Castle passed into the hands of the Darby family. Many Darbys became high Sheriff of Kings County.But the most famous Darby who was Admiral Sir Henry Darby fought at the battle of the Nile.Sir Henry Darby escorted Napoleon Bonaparte into exile when he left France. John Nelson Darby, who died in 1832, wrote around thirty volumes.

In the 17th century the castle passed to Richard Martyn, Mayor of Galway. After that it was purchased by Oliver St. John Gogarty and became the center of literary meetings of such writers as W.B. Yeats, his patron Lady Gregory, George Bernard Shaw, Edward Martin and J.M. Synge.

In 1954 Christobel Lady Ampthill acquired the castle and completed the restorations. It is now owned by Shannon Delvelopment and is open to the public from May through October and medieval banquets, complete with entertainment centered around the literary giants that once met here, are held twice nightly, subject to demand.

Leixlip Castle, County Kildare

Leixlip Castle Historically, the centre of Leixlip has always been Leixlip Castle, a medieval castle strategically placed on a rock above where the Rye Water flows into the River Liffey in County Kildare. Over the following several hundred years Leixlip Castle was to be one of the strongholds of the Pale as an outpost.

In 1317 the castle was attacked by Robert Bruce, King of Scotland. Bruce's army failed to capture it but in the process burnt part of Leixlip.

In 1485 Herny VII granted the castle and lands to Gerald FitzGerald the 8th Earl of Kildare. It was to remain with the FitzGeralds until the rebellion of "Silken Thomas", the tenth Earl of Kildare, in 1534. After 17 years of turmoil, including a tentative plan to marry the young man to Mary I, "Bloody Mary" Tudor, in 1554 Gerald made a submission to the Catholic Queen Mary I and a portion of his lands were restored and his title as the eleventh Earl of Kildare "legitimised."

Leixlip had returned to its position as a bastion of English authority . In 1569 The castle then passed into the possession of Sir Nicholas Whyte and its importance as a military outpost and seat of power diminished. The Whyte Family retained ownership for the next 200 years.

Architecturally the castle reflects the passage of time with a complete renovation in the 18th Century when the courtyard was enclosed around a grand staircase and the facade punctuated with Gothic windows. In 1732 the castle passed into the ownership of the Conolly family where it remained until 1914 when the castle was acquired by Lord Decies who replaced the Gothic Windows in the drawing room and library, requiring instead Tudor-style mullioned windows.

Various tenants have included Archbishop Stone, the Protestant Primate; Viceroy Lord Townshend; Lord Waterpark; and Baron de Roebuck. In 1945 the castle was sold to William Kavanagh prior to the purchase in 1958 by The Hon. Desmond Guinness, founder of the Irish Georgian Society.

Lismore Castle, Co.Waterford

Lismore Castle, Co.Waterford There has been a castle at Lismore ever since 1185 when Prince John built a "castellum" on the present site. When John became King of England he handed the Castle over to the Church and it was used as a Bishop's Palace until 1589. The earliest remaining part of the Castle is a round tower, which dates back to the 13th Century.

In 1589 the Castle was leased and later bought outright by Sir Walter Raleigh. In 1602, when Raleigh was imprisoned in the Tower of London for high treason, he sold Lismore along with 42,000 acres for �1,500 to Richard Boyle, who later became the first Earl of Cork. Richard Boyle's youngest son, Robert Boyle, the philosopher and father of modern chemistry, was born at Lismore in 1626.

Much of the present Castle dates back to the time of the first Earl of Cork and his coat of arms may still be seen above the main entrance gate.

Lismore was considerably involved in the Cromwellian wars and, in 1645, a force of Catholic confederacy commanded by Lord Castlehaven sacked the town and Castle. Some restoration was carried out by the second Earl of Cork (1612-1694) but from then until 1800 very little was done to the Castle by its owners.

James II stayed at Lismore Castle after the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 and on his way from Dublin to Kinsale from whence he fled to France.

In 1753, the Castle and its lands passed to the fourth Duke of Devonshire following his marriage in 1748 to Lady Charlotte Boyle, the only surviving daughter and heiress of the fourth Earl of Cork (1695-1753). The sixth Duke (1790-1858), known as the bachelor Duke, undertook the most extensive restoration of the Castle.

He was a patron of Dickens, Thackeray and, most importantly, Joseph Paxton (1801-1868) who joined the Duke's establishment as under gardener in 1823 and became his friend and consultant in many spheres. Botanist, inventor, engineer, architect, town planner, and railway promoter, Joseph Paxton not only designed the Crystal Palace for the London exhibition of 1851, he also organised the army works and served in the Crimean war, and became a Liberal member of Parliament. Tsar Nicholas 1st of Russia knighted him in 1844 and he was later knighted by Queen Victoria in 1851. It was he who played a leading part between 1840 and 1858 in creating Lismore Castle as it is today.

Adele Astaire, Fred Astaire's sister, married Lord Charles Cavendish (the present Duke's uncle) and lived in the Castle between 1932 and 1944. When her husband died she returned to America but continued to visit Lismore for a month each summer, during which time Fred Astaire was a frequent visitor. So much so that on two occasions in the visitors book his sister wrote after his entry, "What, not again", and, "I thought he'd never leave".

The present duke is Andrew Cavendish, 11th Duke of Devonshire (b. 1920). His elder brother was married to Kathleen Kennedy, sister of President John F. Kennedy, and was killed on active service in 1944. Kathleen Kennedy died in a plane crash four years later.

Lynche's Castle, Co.Galway

Lynche's Castle At the junction of shop Street and Upper abbeygate street is Lynche's Castle, a 16th century castle which was heavily altered in 1966 when it was converted into a bank.

Lynch's Castle is the only complete secular medieval building left standing in Galway today. The Lynch's were an important family, who supplied the city with many Mayors.

The Castle is four stories high and a large extension was added in 1808. The building has been modified a number of times over the years. The exact date of its foundation is not known but a number of features point to a date at the end of the fifteenth century or the beginning of the sixteenth century. A framed panel at the front of the building shows the arms of King Henry VII, King of England from 1484 to 1509. At the side of the building there is a stone inserted containing the coat-of-arms of the Earl of Kildare who freed Galway from the de Burgos after the Battle of Knockdoe in 1504. The Lynch coat-of-arms is to be found at the front of the building.

The Castle was acquired by Allied Irish Banks in 1930 and carefully restored to its former splendour. A fine carved doorway was added in 1933, the work of L. Cambell a Dublin Architect.

The exterior preserves some of the few remaining Irish gargoyles. On the ground floor historical material dealing with the castle is displayed. The so-called Spanish Arch, is the south-western portion of the old town, was one of the gates in the old city wall and houses a museum.