Monday, October 21, 2013

Kilkenny Castle, Ireland

Kilkenny Castle has a long history stretching back to the 1200s. The first stone fort was built by William Marshall, 4th Earl of Pembroke. Subsequent constructions created an architectural hodge-podge with 800 years of additions. In 1391, James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormond, bought the castle. The Butlers were the family designated to entertain the English king when he visited. For taking on this responsibility, the family was give fifteen percent of all the sales of alcohol imported to Ireland, a substantial sum. They kept the castle until 1967 when Arthur, 6th Marquess of Ormonde gave it to the people of Kilkenny. The contents were auctioned off though some original painting and items (including a marble table that was too heavy to move) stayed behind.

Front entrance to Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle Courtyard

We took a tour of the inside of the castle where we saw the early medieval roots, including various defensive towers, or at least their bases. The castle soon became more of a lordly home than a fortification, so many of the rooms reflect the wealth and hospitality they had to display. Most striking is a long hall that served as a picture gallery. The hall was also used for evening walking when the weather was poor and for New Year's Eve balls when the family was in town.

Ja particularly loved the children's guide, which asked lots of questions about what his favorite item in the castle was. He chose one of the grandfather clocks from the early 1800s and even drew a picture of it. Sadly, photographs were not allowed inside the castle, so I have only exterior photos and not the beloved clock.

The Rose Garden features a nice fountain that inspired a sweet face from J but a silly one from L. We helped a couple take their picture and they reciprocated, allowing the rare family photo.

The Rose Garden

J and L by a fountain

Family shot #1

Family shot #2 (gotta show both since it's a rare circumstance)

The gardens also have some statues of Greek gods, including this Hermes who must have been put up in the Victorian era considering his modest adornments.

Hermes with a towel of modesty on his shoulder (it certainly isn't for warmth!)

Behind the castle is the river Nore which has a ford near the castle, thus its strategic location on high ground by a river and near a river crossing.

Battlements overlooking the river

The castle is an impressive structure, though more impressive to the children was the playground on the other side of the castle, which we'll see in the next blog post.

Back of the castle

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