My frogs, as you know, have a castle in their tank. But I had never had the opportunity to stay in a castle until I got to Ireland, where I stayed in no fewer than three of them. I guess they had a lot of castles in Ireland and since they are no longer needed to defend one’s family from one’s enemies, they turned a bunch of them into hotels.
There first one we stayed in was Dunboyne Castle in Meath:
To be honest, it didn’t look all that castle-y to me, but it was very nicely decorated inside.
And had remnants of the old castle on the grounds:
And the final castle we stayed in was Clontarf Castle in Dublin:
In addition to the ones we stayed in, we also visited a bunch more castles – or ruins of castles, at least.
Here’s Trim Castle in Trim, County Meath:
They filmed Braveheart here1.
At Trim Castle, we learned that most castles were built with counterclockwise spiral staircases, because when you were under siege, with attackers coming up the stairs after you, counterclockwise stairs gave advantage to a right handed swordsman, who could reach around with his sword as he stabbed down at the attackers, and disadvantage to a right handed attacker, who would have to expose a good deal of his torso as he tried to stab upwards. As well, the stairs – known as “tumble stairs” – were designed to be at slightly different angles and of slightly different widths so that an attacker, who would be unfamiliar with the stairs would be more likely to fall if they tried to run up the stairs. So, needless to say, it was fun navigating those staircases.
Here’s Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, County Galway, which was original a castle home, but later was sold to Benedictine nuns and became a monastery and boarding school:
Here’s Parkes’ Castle in County Leitrim, which was built on the site of a previous castle, O’Rourke’s Castle (O’Rourke having been executed for treason for having harboured a captain from the Spanish armada who has washed up on shore nearby):
Two things of note at Parkes’ Castle: #1 – A Pigeon coop from the 1700s!
This was in a tower that was built to house pigeons that were kept for sending messages to other castles. And, honestly, other than it being built out of stone, it looks pretty similar to my dad’s pigeon coop!
#2 – A (reproduction of) a clockwise spiral staircase. Parkes had it built this way because he was left handed, so a clockwise staircase gave him an advantage if he were standing upstairs from an attacker:
Here’s Ross Castle in Killarney:
I think the most exciting thing about this castle was that we took a jaunting car ride to get there.
And then there was this castle at the top of the Cliffs of Moher:
Which was exciting because, well, it was at the top of the Cliffs of Moher.
The last castle we visited was Dublin Castle in, not surprisingly, Dublin:
It used to be where the British government sat in Ireland, but was handed over in 1921 to the new provisional Irish government and currently is an Irish government building.
- Even though Braveheart was suppose to be in Scotland, a lot of it was actually filmed in Ireland. [↩]