Ireland

A Different Visit to Ireland

Category: Castles, Houses & Follies

Trim Castle

Trim Castle is beside the River Boyne in Trim, County Meath, Ireland.  It is the largest Anglo-Norman (Cambro-Norman) castle in Ireland. It was built by Hugh de Lacy. He was granted the lands by King Henry II of England in 1172 for his part in the Norman invasion of Ireland.
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Leixlip & Car Wreck

At the very top of my list of things I wanted to find when I was in Ireland was Leixlip Castle. It is not open to the public. The book The Follies and Garden Buildings of Ireland by James Howley describes the “fine gazebo which still stands in the grounds of Leixlip Castle, at the meeting of the Rye Water and the River Liffey.” So, I found where the Rye Water and the River Liffey meet and looked for the gazebo.
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Lismore Castle

Lismore Castle is in the town of Lismore in County Waterford. It was in a decorating magazine years ago. I tore out the pages, so I don’t know what magazine. I just wanted to drive by and see it on the way to Swiss Cottage. It is beautiful and I spent longer than I had expected.
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Grubb’s Grave

I decided to drive to Cahir Castle along the ridge of the Knockmealdown Mountains. I had read about Grubb’s Monument, marking where Samuel Grubb was buried standing up overlooking the beautiful Golden Vale.
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Cahir Castle

Cahir Castle, County Tipperary, is one of the largest castles in Ireland. I visited it on the way to see the Swiss Cottage and I am so glad I did not miss it. It still has a keep, tower and defensive walls. The inner ward has a gatehouse and great hall.
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Swiss Cottage

Other than Leixlip Castle, I most looked forward to seeing Swiss Cottage. And it was not available to tour when I was there. But, I walked out to it.

Swiss Cottage is perhaps the finest example of cottage orné of the Romantic Movement.
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Dromoland Gazebo – Belvedere Folly

Driving down the M18 somewhere past Shannon, I saw something. Using Google Maps, I retraced my course and found it is the Belvedere Folly, the Gazebo at Dromoland Castle.
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Along the Coast to Doolin Harbour

The drive from the Cliffs of Moher to Doolin was beautiful. I drove down R478, Ballard Road, along the coast.  I drove through Burren karst pavements, beautiful green fields, passed ruins and castles to Doolin Harbour.
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Ballinalacken Castle

I left Doolin early, making my way toward the Burren. In the morning mist, I could see a tower in the distance. I found the entrance to Ballinalacken Castle near the intersection of R477 and R479, near Lisdoonvarna, Fanore and Doolin in Killilagh parish, County Clare, Ireland.
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The Burren

I left the Doolin area and headed up into the Burren. I found a castle, abandoned houses, an old school and an old tomb or something.
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Along Galway Bay

I made my way along the small bays of Galway Bay on R477. I saw Ballynacregga Castle and Finavarra Tower, another Napoleon Tower, this one with an oval footprint. The route drives between the beautiful ban and the solid limestone hills of the Burren.  I also visited the little village of Kinvarra and its quay.
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Dunguaire Castle

I left Doolin, wandered through the Burren and found my way to Galway Bay. I found Dunguaire Castle as I drove along the shore.

Dunguaire Castle is a tower house built around 1520 by the O’Hynes clan. It is near Kinvarra on the Galway Bay in County Galway, Ireland.  It is named after the fort that was here before the tower house was built. The castle is small, with a 75 foot tower and defensive walls.
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Ardrahan, Shannonbridge and Clonony Castle

I drove through the little village of Ardrahan, through County Galway, County Roscommon and County Offaly.  I saw more ruins and castles and crossed Shannonbridge, one of the oldest bridges still in use over the River Shannon.
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Birr Castle

I drove into Birr. The road ends at the walls of Birr Castle.

Birr Castle is the private home of the Earls of Rosse and family. It is not open to the public, but the grounds and gardens are.
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Birr Castle Science Centre and Telescope

There is a lot to see at Birr Castle, but I came for the telescope. Called the Leviathan of Parsonstown, it was the largest telescope in the world from 1845 until the Hooker Telescope was completed at Mount Wilson Observatory, California in 1917.
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Birr Castle Gardens

Birr Castle Gardens are open to the public. There are 120 acres with five miles of walking paths. Two rivers, the Camcor and the Little Brosna meet within the Castle Demesne walls forming a lake and waterfalls.  An amazing display of rare plants and trees grows here in beautiful profusion. There are over 2000 different species of plants collected by the Earls of Rosse on their travels around the world or given to them by some of the most famous plant hunters.
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Kinbane Headland and Kinbane Castle

Kinbane Headland is about three miles from Ballycastle in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, on the way to Giant’s Causeway. The walkway leads along the cliff with views of a long narrow headland with castle ruins. The path is narrow and stepped. The view is beautiful, Rathlin Island, birds, flowers and ruins, and, of course, sheep.
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Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle might be the most well-known castle in Ireland. It is a romantic ruin dramatically set at the very edge of the cliff on the Antrim Coast near Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.
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Florence Court Estate

Florence Court is an excellent example of mid-18th century Irish Palladian architecture near Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. The setting is beautiful, in the foothills of Cuilcagh Mountain, overlooking Benauglin Mountain, watered by River Larganess and River Finglass. The house is well known for exquisite Rococo plasterwork and Irish furniture. And it wasn’t open when I was there.
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Florence Court Heather House

I really wanted to see the Florence Court Heather House, a garden feature at Florence Court Estate in County Fermanagh.
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Looking for Leixlip Castle

So… My last day! I have to get on a plane and fly home the next morning. I had a different plan, but instead I decided I would try to do some of the things I missed on the days I slept through after the car wreck.
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Open Gates at Leixlip Castle

I went back around to the other side of the river, back to the castle gates and they were open!
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Leixlip Castle Gate Lodge

Leixlip Castle Gate Lodge stands outside the gates. Although it looks Gothick, it was actually built in the early eighties. Before I  walked in the gates, I took these photos of the Gate Lodge.
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Leixlip Castle

I was invited to wander around Leixlip Castle and take photos. These are photos of the castle from the outside.
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Leixlip Castle Front Hall

The Front Hall to Leixlip Castle exemplifies Mariga Guinness’s style that “combined fantasy with history and the grand with the laid-back, all in a natural and seemingly uncontrived manner that belied the careful thought and planning behind it. Desmond’s views on restoration – that ‘a certain amount of shabbiness is an appropriate characteristic of an old house in any country, particularly Ireland'”
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Leixlip Castle Dining Room

At least when I was at Leixlip Castle, this was set up as a dining room. This is the room called the Gothic room in Irish Houses & Castles. The book shows a dining room in the tower. This is one of the oldest parts of the castle. I love these windows!
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Leixlip Castle Library

A print room was a decorative scheme specific to Georgian times. Prints and engravings of pictures were pasted on the wall, then decorated with cut-out garlands, frames, festoons and ribbons. It was the first decorating style that was a hobby, usually for the lady-of-the-house.
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Leixlip Castle Drawing Room

Leixlip Castle is filled with beautiful and whimsical things. In the drawing room, the gigantic Georgian dolls house is used as a cupboard.
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Leixlip Castle Stairs & Hall

The stairs and hallway of Leixlip Castle are beautiful!
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Leixlip Castle Kitchen

There are no photos of Leixlip Castle Kitchen in any of the books or magazines I have. Here it is!
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Leixlip Castle Gothick Greenhouse

Before I was invited to see inside Leixlip Castle, I photographed outside. The dogs led me around. Continue reading

Leixlip Castle Garden Temple Seat

The Garden Temple was built around 1920. It was made from salvaged pieces.
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Leixlip Castle Gates & Outbuildings

There are a few outbuildings surrounding Leixlip Castle. Here are more photos.
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Liexlip Castle Folly Gazebo Boat House

Where the the Rye Water meets  the River Liffey a Boat House Gazebo stands at the water edge. Before the dam was put in, the water flowed through the bottom of the boat house. The top used to be comfortably finished inside, with a fireplace.
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The Wonderful Barn

James Howley in The Follies and Garden Buildings of Ireland, one of the books I planned my trip with says “…the Wonderful Barn is… arguably one of the finest follies to be found in Ireland.” It is not on the tourist maps, but I had enough information to find it.
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Paintings of Leixlip Castle

Someone pinned these paintings of rooms in Leixlip Castle. It took some looking to find thin artist. They are by Hector McDonnell.

This is what his website says;

Essentially a realist painter, McDonnell is one of the finest figurative Irish artists of his generation. Best known for his observations of daily life he captures the mundane and ordinary with an extraordinary quality.

hectormcdonnell.com

Hector McDonnell was born in Belfast in 1947. He was educated at Eton and Oxford, then studied painting in Munich and Vienna. He has won prestigious prizes and had prestigious exhibitions. He lives and works in Northern Ireland and New York.

Leixlip Castle Corridor

LEIXLIP CORRIDOR, Hector McDonnell, October 2015 - Delahunty Gallery Catalog - A Different Visit to Ireland

LEIXLIP CORRIDOR, Hector McDonnell, October 2015
Delahunty Gallery Catalog

This doesn’t look like the halls I was in. Perhaps it is upstairs. Upstairs has the same windows.

The catalog from Delahunty, one of London’s principal fine art galleries, says;

I have been working on the paintings in this exhibition over the last two years. They concentrate on what has been a constant theme for me – an endless fascination with interiors both for what they tell us about the people who inhabit these places even when they are not there and the curiosity aroused by half-seen glimpses spied through windows and doors. The mystery of the not-quite-known is forever enticing.

Delahunty Fine Art Hector McDonnell Catalogue

Leixlip Castle Kitchen

Kitchen at Leixlip, 1996 Past Auction at Artnet Auctions - A Different Visit to Ireland

Kitchen at Leixlip, 1996 Past Auction at Artnet Auctions
Hector McDonnell – Kitchen at Leixlip

This painting is in the Past Auctions at artnet Auctions on the artnet website.

artnet is the leading online resource for the international art market, and the destination to buy, sell, and research art online.

About artnet

This is the first time I have seen any pictures of the kitchen at Leixlip Castle. When I visited, we came in through the kitchen. I love the artist’s descriptive line, “the curiosity aroused by half-seen glimpses spied through windows and doors.”

Leixlip Castle Kitchen >

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