Situated on the outskirts of the town of Lismore is the ever so beautiful Lismore Castle. It is the luxury home of the Duke of Devonshire, however, when he is away, he rents the castle out to parties of up to 24 guests. It is said to be the ideal venue for people to host family gatherings, executive retreats, and even a grand marquis event.
Lismore Castle offers a unique charm and appeal while offering some of the most amazing panoramic views over the River Blackwater and the Knockmealdown Mountains.
Lismore Castle History
The Lismore Castle interior is truly a sight to behold. It is filled with rich décor and stunning furnishing that showcases the attention to detail given by the staff. It has been significantly rebuilt over many years to become the luxury beauty it is now. The current structure mainly dates from the 19th century, however, the original structure dates further back to 1185.
Keep reading to gain an in-depth insight into this stunning castle and how it has evolved over many centuries.
The early history
In 1185, the castle was built as a sister castle to the nearby castle known as Ardfinnan. It was also very closely linked to Lismore Abbey and throughout the 13th and 14th centuries it remained a site with ecclesiastical connotations. It is said that Lismore Castle was built to become a strategic site. This means it was built to guard the river crossing while it was in the possession of the Earls of Desmond for a large part of the Medieval period.
It was very briefly leased out to a man by the name of Sir Walter Raleigh in the year 1589. However, in the year 1602, it was sold to Richard Boyle, late the 1st Earl of Cork.
Richard Boyle went forth and made Lismore his principal seat. From this point onwards, he transformed the castle into a residence fit for an Earl. He added a grand gatehouse, gabled ranges, and a castellated outer wall to the castle. He had 15 children and throughout time, the castle was handed down through each generation.
Unfortunately, when the Cromwellian wars went through, the castle was damaged. Soon after, restoration began to make the house liveable again, though the Earls of Cork never lived at Lismore after that.
Rebuilding and renovating
In 1755, Lismore Castle was part of the dowry of Lady Charlotte Boyle on her marriage to the Marquess of Hartington (and future Duke of Devonshire and Prime Minister). It was the 6th Duke of Devonshire, also known as the ‘Bachelor Duke’, who went forth and carried out major works within the castle. He was the one that turned it into the delightful building it is today.
In 1811, the noted architect, A. W. N. Pugin, designed many parts of the castle in a Gothic Revival style. He also had a part in overseeing the renovation of the old Bishop’s Palace into a banqueting hall. Then, in 1850, he acquired another architect, Sir Joseph Paxton, to carry out a large series of improvements and additions to the castle.
After the Bachelor Duke had passed in the year 1858, Lismore Castle remained unaltered. It was then that it became home to a younger son of the 9th Duke, Lord Charles Cavendish, who married a lady by the name of Adele Astaire. When the 9th Duke passed away in 1944, his wife, Adele, continued to use the castle until she also passed in the year 1981.
From then on, the 11th Duke of Devonshire used the castle. However, he only ever used it for brief annual visits. In the last few years of its tenure, it was made available for short-term rent. In 2004, the 12th Duke succeeded to the title and continues to live at the castle.
The present day
These days, the castle’s gardens are open to the public, though the public are not allowed within the castle except for events and bookings. The beautiful gardens, however, are a sight to see and make for a lovely day out. The upper garden is a lovely 17th-century walled garden while the lower part was designed in the 19th century.
There have been many enhancements made to the castle to make it more liveable and eye-catching.
You may enjoy reading about other Irish castles such as Donegal Castle.
Lismore Castle Timeline
- 1185- The castle is built as a sister castle to the nearby castle known as Ardfinnan
- 1589- The castle is very briefly leased out to a man by the name of Sir Walter Raleigh
- 1601- The castle is sold to Richard Boyle, late the 1st Earl of Cork
- 1755- Lismore Castle is part of the dowry of Lady Charlotte Boyle on her marriage to the Marquess of Hartington
- 1811- The noted architect, A. W. N. Pugin, designs many parts of the castle in a Gothic Revival style
- 1850- Architect Sir Joseph Paxton carries out a large series of improvements and additions to the castle
- 1858- The Bachelor Duke passes away and Lismore Castle remains unaltered
- 2004- The 12th Duke succeeds to the title and continues to live at the castle
Lismore Castle facts
- Inside the castle, there are twelve luxury rooms
- The castle is set amidst 7 acres of beautiful, landscaped gardens and grounds
- The castle is situated in one of the most historic towns in Ireland
- The name Lismore comes from two words – Lis meaning Fort and Mor meaning big
- The gardens are believed to be the oldest in Ireland and retain much of their original Jacobean form
- The castle contains some of the finest examples of domestic Pugin furniture still in private hand
- The castle sleeps up to 27 guests
Featured in TV and Film
- Northanger Abbey (2007)
- The Irish Rovers, 50th Anniversary LIVE on St. Patrick’s Day (2017)
Who owns Lismore Castle?
Since he succeeded to the title in 2004, Peregrine Cavendish, 12th Duke of Devonshire has owned Lismore Castle. He spends a large majority of his time at the castle, however, when he is not there, he rents it out to large parties. He also allows events to be hosted in his luxury, exclusive use castle.
Sometimes referred to as Lismore Castle Hotel, the castle has plenty of accommodation available for large parties. It is completely exclusive, so you cannot just walk in. The gardens are open year-round and there is plenty to do there. You can ride horses across the meadows, walk through the Knockmealdown Mountains, play golf on some of Ireland’s leading courses, or dine in award-winning local restaurants that are all within easy reach of Lismore.
Lismore Castle should definitely be on the list of things to see, it is truly spectacular.