Irish Castles

17 Apr

We have learned a plethora of information concerning Ireland and its history, language, music, literature, and people. It has been an incredible time filling my brain up with Irish facts and figures, hoping to one day be able to share this priceless knowledge that I stored in my brain. But really, if nothing else comes of my Irish knowledge, at least I was able to understand the tours we took, the bus drivers I spoke with, or the statues I passed on my walk to school just a little bit better.

One thing that I do not think we covered in class or in random conversation was about the castles scattered throughout Ireland. Maybe that’s because they aren’t special just to the Irish land because many other countries throughout Europe and beyond have castles. Or maybe that was my job to travel throughout Ireland and see them for myself. Well I accepted the challenge to see some beautiful Irish castles, seeing as how the United States doesn’t have any to rant and rave about. Along the way, I had to find answers to my own questions that started to form in my head. What makes them special enough to still be around? Why are they there in the first place? Who lived there? What is that piece of furniture used for? What would have been like to live here? These questions that I’ve had for all the castles I have seen and visited were answered each time I took a tour. Not even listing the ones I’ve driven by while on a bus or train or even a plane, I’ve come across a good amount of castles and to name just a few: Malahide Castle, Kilkenny Castle, Dublin Castle, and Howth Castle. These being the ones that have come to my head while writing this. All of them are very unique with their own back story, their own family having lived in it, their own décor inside, and their own surrounding land. Some were more similar then others, but all were drawing in my attention to their splendor. Just briefly I am going to compare and contrast the Malahide Castle and the Kilkenny Castle. Why I chose these was because Malahide Castle was the very first castle I saw in Ireland and Kilkenny was the last one I saw in Ireland. They have their major differences, but I picked out some similarities during the tours I took of each one.Image

Malahide Castle—like I said previously— was the first castle I visited. It was my first weekend just slightly out of the city, but a short distance away on the DART. We intentionally went to Malahide to see the castle there. As we approached the castle, there were tall fences around its gardens. We continued on (skipping the details about the visitor center) to the castle itself. It was smaller in size—which we later found out it had been even smaller before the family added on—than the other castles I have seen, but it was so cool. ImageThe bright orange door at the front was my favorite feature about the house. It definitely stood out against the dark stone. Throughout the tour I learned all about the Talbott family who had dwelt in that house. We heard stories about the ghosts still lurking throughout the rooms, specifically staying in the great dining hall that we happened to be spending the most time in. There was a very large table, probably able to seat 20+ people, which was used to feed the family (sons) right before they went off to battle with William of Orange. Huge paintings covered the walls of family members and important people to the family, also with the main one being a picture of that specific war. Each room was unique in its style and decoration. Unfortunately, I didn’t write down the specific locations as to where the furniture had originated, but it seemed like the family had gone on huge shopping sprees in many different countries to furnish this lovely castle. It was beautiful. Surrounding the castle was a lot of land and trees,Image green gardens, as well a smaller area for the botanical garden. We spent a good while just wandering around the area. Admiring the trees, flowers, and everything else it had to offer.Image

My experience at Kilkenny Castle was slightly different. Its set more up on a hill so the village of Kilkenny and its people can see it stand tall. At least, this is how I interpreted it to be. Its size was much bigger than Malahide Castle, the shape as well was different too.Image It has beautiful windows lining the front and all around. Multiple tall towers on all sides protruded up into the sky. ImageAs I first walked through the gate, my first response was to wander around the grounds. It didn’t appear to have more land than Malahide did because it was in a more dominant place in the town, but one can never be too sure. Also, to my delight, there were purple and white tulips growing around some of the trees. This area was beautiful. I went in to get a tour, this one was a go at your own pace, rather than having a tour guide like Malahide Castle. Again, I wasn’t authorized to take pictures, so I was left having to write down all that I read and saw. In every room there were paintings covering the walls, just like all the castles I had seen previously, usually of the Butler family members who had lived there previously. That was until I got to the Picture Gallery, which was just a long hall with paintings. There were places for people to sit and admire the artwork. Each room, again was unique in style: gold trim, thick curtains and plush red couches in one, Ormonde collections and French silk in another, Italian fireplaces and Chinese décor in another, and then a big library for Mr. Butler to spend his time during the day. ImageOn the other side of the castle was a small garden area with rose bushes, a water fountain and benches. I don’t have enough time to describe every room, but believe me, it was breathtaking every new room I saw.

 Millions of pounds and euros had been spent to restore both of these beautiful castles back to their original state. They both had drawing rooms for the ladies to move in to after dinner with “fans” to block the ladies directly from the fireplace to their makeup wouldn’t melt off. Also, both castles had the conversation/love chair, which has intrigued me every time I’ve seen one. Lavish staircases were popular to both and the Coat of Arms were proudly hanging around the castles.

 I don’t think I can choose which castle was my favorite because they both mean something different to me. First castle I visited with friends and the last castle I may ever seen in Ireland (although I really hope this isn’t the case). The pictures I have will most likely be printed and hung proudly around my house or apartment for years to come. The stories behind each family and the reasoning behind certain decorations and furniture choices will be locked in the pictures I do have.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: