|Location||Kilkea, County Kildare, Republic of Ireland (Google Maps)|
|Open for Visitors||Yes|
|Owned by||Jay M. and Christy Scott Cashman|
|Official Website||Kilkea Castle|
|Rooms Available||Yes (Stay, Wedding, Events)|
Situated in a significant landmark of Irish history, Kilkea Castle is located only one hour from Dublin, in County Kildare. You can discover the medieval legacy of the mighty Fitzgerald dynasty in the castle, which is now a member of the Preferred Hotels and Resorts L.V.X Collection.
Kilkea Castle History
Kilkea Castle was built in 1180 by Hugh DeLacey, who seems to have built half the castles in Ireland. He built this castle for Walter de Riddlesford, a knight from the Norman invasion. The castle soon became the stronghold of the FitzGerald family for 740 years, from the 12th century. Their influence and legacy are well known in Ireland as probably the most powerful house in the country. The castle was situated on 1200 acres of the estate right on the border of the area of ‘The Pale,’ under British control. Frequent attacks and looting by the Irish were a way of life for the residents.
The castle was also the location of the first ever Irish Parliament. It vies with Malahide Castle for the accolade of the oldest inhabited castle in Ireland. The last Earl of the castle sold the castle and estate in 1963 to private hoteliers and moved to Australia. However, a fluid period of ownership befell Kilkea Castle, where many different proprietors operated the estate as a magnificent vacation retreat.
Despite its immense popularity, the estate went into receivership in 2009. However, a year later, when Jay Cashman purchased Kilkea Castle, who had long entertained the idea of running a historic castle as a spectacular resort. They refurbished the entire estate back to its former glory by investing some €30 million with his wife, Christy.
Kilkea Castle Architecture
Kilkea Castle Hotel, set on 180 acres, displays some of the best examples of Gothic architecture. The architects during the Middle Ages gradually began using design principles borrowed from Romanesque architecture, primarily characterized by arches and beautiful stained glass windows. Once an imposing medieval fortress, the castle hotel was first converted into a premier holiday destination in the 1960s. The hotel is now under the ownership of Jay Cashman, determined to take the castle back to the elite. It is now one of the most preferred castle hotels in Ireland.
The castle’s rooms are divided into three distinct sections- 11 classical and uniquely styled bedrooms, a more modern Carriage Bedroom in the courtyard, and a family-friendly self-catering lodge bedroom near the golf club. Among the most exciting aspects of the building’s rich architecture is the presence of several stone carvings that depict a chained monkey. For centuries, the animal has served as the primary crest within the FitzGerald family’s regal coat of arms. Legend dictates that a pet monkey once saved the life of John FitzGerald, the 1st Lord of Kildare, when he was just an infant.
There are many other fascinating architectural components inside the hotel. One of these constructs is known as the ‘Evil Eye Stone,’ built above the castle’s bawn entrance into the guard room. The monument is a ‘grotesque,’ a stone carving meant to ward off dangerous spirits. The FitzGeralds decided to call their grotesque ‘evil eye’ because they hoped it would attract the gaze of demons to the castle building itself and not the people living inside. The spirits would flee from there, fearing the image they had observed. The resort also has a ‘Haunted Room,’ located in the upper stories of the round flagstaff tower.
The 140 Bedroom Resort boasts several luxurious accommodation options for all tastes and budgets of the guests. Guests can choose from a luxurious Castle Bedroom, a Self-Catering Lodge or a Lodge Bedroom, and a Carriage Bedroom. The 11 Bedrooms in the castle are also available for Exclusive Hire for the castle weddings or parties.
Apart from the luxurious facilities of the castle, there are many things to do near the castle. You can take a walk in the serene Burtown House and Gardens which is located just 10 minutes away from the castle. The Castledermot Round Tower and St. James Church are also impressive places to walk around near the castle. You can also spend an hour wandering in Mullaghreelan Wood, where you can hike to the top and get a gorgeous view of the castle and its estate.
Another great place to go is Altamont Gardens, which is just a 30-minute drive from Kilkea Castle and is well worth a visit. You can explore the formal gardens and historic walled gardens and also make sure to take a hike around the lake!
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Kilkea Castle?
The castle is located in the parish of Kilkea, on Kilkea Demesne, in the County of Kildare in Ireland.
Who owns Kilkea Castle?
The castle is owned by Jay M. and Christy Scott Cashman, who have invested around €30 million into the refurbishment of the castle hotel.
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