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Posts tagged “irish castles

Irish Castles : A Lament for Kilcash – Monday Poetry

Irish Castles Kilcash castle Nigel Borrington

Irish Castles
Kilcash castle
Nigel Borrington

A Lament for Kilcash

Now what will we do for timber,
with the last of the woods laid low?
There’s no talk of Cill Chais or its household
and its bell will be struck no more.
That dwelling where lived the good lady
most honoured and joyous of women
– earls made their way over wave there
and the sweet Mass once was said.

Ducks’ voices nor geese do I hear there,
nor the eagle’s cry over the bay,
nor even the bees at their labour
bringing honey and wax to us all.
No birdsong there, sweet and delightful,
as we watch the sun go down,
nor cuckoo on top of the branches
settling the world to rest.

A mist on the boughs is descending
neither daylight nor sun can clear.
A stain from the sky is descending
and the waters receding away.
No hazel nor holly nor berry
but boulders and bare stone heaps,
not a branch in our neighbourly haggard,
and the game all scattered and gone.

Then a climax to all of our misery:
the prince of the Gael is abroad
oversea with that maiden of mildness
who found honour in France and Spain.
Her company now must lament her,
who would give yellow money and white
– she who’d never take land from the people
but was friend to the truly poor.

I call upon Mary and Jesus
to send her safe home again:
dances we’ll have in long circles
and bone-fires and violin music;
that Cill Chais, the townland of our fathers,
will rise handsome on high once more
and till doom – or the Deluge returns –
we’ll see it no more laid low.


Kilcash Castle located on the county Kilkenny / Tipperary boarders but firmly in county Tipperary is one of the most haunting places to be found locally. It has a long history that started with its construction in the sixteenth century by the wall family who latter passed it on to the Butlers of Ormond who much latter sold it to the Irish State in 1997 for £500

Brief History of Kilkash castle and the Poem

By the late 20th century Kilcash Castle was in a dangerous state of repair, and it was sold to the State by the trustees of the Ormond estate for £500 in 1997. It is undergoing extensive structural repairs to save it from collapsing. But this means it is covered in scaffolding and the site is closed off to visitors.

The author of the popular Irish poem and song Cill Chaise (Kilcash) casts himself back in time to mourn the death of Margaret Butler, the former Lady Iveagh, in 1744. Her death moves the writer to lament her tolerance and to compare the cutting down of the woods of Kilcash with the destruction of the Gaelic way of life.

But the woods were not destroyed by the English, but through their sale by the Butler family, who needed the income to supplement their new lifestyle in Kilkenny Castle.

Traditionally, the poem has been attributed to Father John Lane, Parish Priest of nearby Carrick-on-Suir, who was educated for the priesthood at the expense of the former Lady Iveagh, the deagh-bhean or good lady in the song. However, the dating is misplaced, for Father Lane died in 1776 and the sale of the timber at Kilcash was not advertised in local newspapers until 1797.

Although the timber was sold off between 1797 and 1801, the earliest manuscripts of the text do not appear for another 40 years, which means Cill Chaise was written no earlier than the early 1800s, but perhaps much later. The air seems to be Bliadhin ’sa taca so phós mé (This time twelve months I married), which was collected by George Petrie in Clare and published in 1855.


Castle Walls a Poem by Celeste Nicole Cook

Cahir Castle, County Tipperary Irish Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

Cahir Castle, County Tipperary
Irish Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

Castle walls

By : Celeste Nicole Cook

Surrounded by tall walls,
so tall that it is insanity to dare climb them.

Before there used to be a gate that allowed visitors to come and go
as they please without disrupting the palace grounds
but over time the palace guard became bitter.

At first the gate was only opened for a few days,
but once those visitors left, leaving chaos and destruction behind
the palace guard became angry and was filled with rage.

With rage he destroyed the gate
and in turn built a thicker wall.

The Castle 02.

Replacing the beautiful craftsmanship that stood tall and proud,
with a thick grey wall that blended into the hills.

Now the remaining occupants have been imprisoned within towering walls were debris and dust has collected,
time has past and slowly the rage has been quenched.

Now the guard is contemplating whether to burn the chaos around him
and rebuild a city that shines and brings glory to all those who enter.

To build walls that can be climbed,
were children can sit once again and look out at the fields of flowering hills in the Spring.

King John’s Castle Limerick

King Johns Castle, Limerick, Ireland. Irish landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

King Johns Castle, Limerick, Ireland.
Irish landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

King John’s Castle, Limerick

Back in January this year I took a weekend trip to Limerick on the river Shannon, to King Johns Castle located at the high street end of the town.

The Castle is a 13th-century construction located on King’s Island in Limerick, next to the River Shannon. Although the site dates back to 922 when the Vikings lived on the Island, the castle itself was built on the orders of King John in 1200. The walls, towers and fortifications remain today and are visitor attractions.

The remains of a Viking settlement were uncovered during archaeological excavations at the site in 1900

If you are passing this part of the world the Castle is well worth a visit as is a walk around Limerick city itself. You can go on a loop river walk that lets you see every part of the city from the river bank. There are many pubs and coffee stops along the way all with a great view of the river.

King Johns Castle Limerick 1

Early History

The arrival of the Anglo-Normans to the area in 1172 changed everything. Domhnall Mór Ó Briain burned the city to the ground in 1174 in a bid to keep it from the hands of the new invaders. After he died in 1194, the Anglo-Normans finally captured the area in 1195 under King John. In 1197, local legend claims Limerick was given its first charter and its first Mayor, Adam Sarvant. A castle, built on the orders of King John and bearing his name, was completed around 1210.

The castle was built on the boundary of the River Shannon in order to protect the city from the west and from any rebellion by Norman lords to the east and south. Under the general peace imposed by the Norman rule, Limerick prospered as both a port and a trading center, partly due to the castle acting as a watchdog on any cargo passing through the port of Limerick.

The town of Limerick became so wealthy during this era King John set up a mint in the North West corner of the castle, with pennies and half pennies from this time available to see in Limerick museum today. A 1574 document prepared for the Spanish ambassador attests to its wealth:

Ormonde Castle

Ormond Castle 1
All images using a Nikon D7000
Ormonde Castle, County Tipperary
Irish Landscape photography: Nigel Borrington

Sitting on the bank of the river Suir ( Carrick-on-suir, county Tipperary ), Ormonde Castle calls out of Irish history and it’s fifteen hundreds.

From the misty past this castle still stands on the edge of a town whose history is completely dependant on this castle and the Ormonde family who built it. I will post with more details on the town and castle but for the moment I just wanted to give you a sense of this place.

These pictures where taken last December, about four day before Christmas and on a very foggy morning, the Castle stands on the banks of the river Suir and is often covered in mist during the winter months.

Ormonde castle a gallery

Ormond Castle 2

Ormond Castle 3

Ormond Castle 4

Ormond Castle 5

Ormond Castle 6

Old Barracks, Cahersiveen, Co.Kerry

Canon G1 x
Old Barracks,Cahersiveen, Co.Kerry
Landscape photography : Nigel Borrington

Old Barracks,Cahersiveen, Co.Kerry

The Barracks was constructed between 1870 and 1875 and served as the Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks. It has an interesting history which can be further looked at in the information page.

Today it serves as a Heritage Centre for the Iveragh Peninsula. It is home to various exhibitions that relate to the local area, including The Great Southern and Western Railway, The Life and Times of Daniel O’Connell, The Fenin Rising of 1867, The 1916 Rising and Monsignor Hugh O’ Flaherty (The Scarlet Pimpernel).

Graystown Castle – Tipperary , An Irish castles

Burnchurch castle 5
All images using a Nikon D200, 18-200 vr 2 lens, iso 100
Burnchurch Castle, County Tipperary
Landscape photography : Nigel Borrington

Graystown Castle- Tipperary

A little time back I blogged about the area of Burnchurch and Graystown, Killenaule, Co Tipperary (70 years of Potato farming), writing then about my in-laws history of farming in this area. At the time I was asked about the castle that was in one of the pictures at the end of the farm, in the distance.

This Old Potato Machine 60 years

The castle is Graystown Castle- Tipperary and it has stood in this area since 1654.

This is the best article I can find on the internet :

Graystown Castle

Burnchurch castle 2

An old castle stands in ruins on the road from Moyglass to Graystown and it is called Graystown Castle. It is mentioned in Gough’s Camden as being in ruins and situated near Killynaul. It is built on a limestone rock of considerable height on west and north sides and sustaining on one extremely the north-west angle of the building.

The original castle was probably built around 1170, by a man named Raymond Le Gros who was a Norman. From the word ‘Gros’ we got we get the name Graystown or Baile Le Gros as it is known in Irish.
However, the present ruins can hardly be older than the 16th century. It is described in the Civil survey (1654) as follows “Upon this land standeth a good castle, a slate house wantinge repaire with a large bawne and severall cabbins”.

Henry Laffan who was an official of the Butler Family, acquired considerable property in Co. Tipperary at the beginning of the 14th century. In 1305 he got 120 acres in Graystown from Geruase De Raley. This Henry Laffan was said to be the first of the Laffan Family, whose chief seat was in Graystown from then on. In 1521, Thomas Laffan, Lord of Ballingarry, granted to the Earl of Ormonde, the land of Ballinure. He was probably dead before 1524, in which year James Laffan of Graystown was one of the freeholders of Tipperary, who complained to King Henry VIII of the extortions, coyne and livery levied on them by Sir James Butler of Kiltinan and Sir Edmond Butler of Cahir as dupties of the Earl of Ormonde. James Laffan died in 1607.

In 1613, Thomas Laffan of Graystown was a member of Parliament for Tipperary. The proprietor of Graystown and Noan, 3200 acres in 1640, was Henry Laffan of Graystown while Marcus Laffan, his son, apparently held the remainder of the family property in Lurgoe, 640 acres. Henry was dead before 1649, for Marcus was found in Graystown in that year and was a Commissioner for the levying of troops and taxes in Slieveardagh. Marcus was transplanted to Connaught where he was alotted 1184 acres.

The Cromwellian grantee of Graystown was Gyles Cooke. He held the title of the area in 1659 and had two hearths there in 1665 (Petty Cenus Money Records).


So here it stands today, sitting at the end of a valley in this wonderfully peaceful landscape.

Graystown Castle – Gallery

Burnchurch castle 3

Burnchurch castle 1

Burnchurch castle 2

Burnchurch castle 4

Lismore Castle

Lismore castle 5
Sigma SD15, 15-30mm f3.5-4.5 lens, Iso 50
Lismore Castle, country Waterford
Irish Landscape photography : Nigel Borrington

Lismore Castle, county Waterford

The town of lismore sits on the banks of the Blackwater river, as it flows through county waterford. The town is small with a population of about 1500 people.

I have visited the town many times, a farmers and craft market is held each Sunday morning just outside the gates of the Castle, there is also one of Ireland’s best rural arts galleries here.

The town is the location of Lismore castle and it’s one of Ireland’s longest standing building, of it’s kind.

Its described as follows below:

Lismore castle : Early history

The castle site was originally occupied by Lismore Abbey, an important monastery and seat of learning established in the early 7th century. It was still an ecclesiastical centre when Henry II, King of England stayed here in 1171, and except for a brief period after 1185 when his son King John of England built a ‘castellum’ here, it served as the episcopal residence of the local bishop. In 1589, Lismore was leased and later acquired by Sir Walter Raleigh. Raleigh sold the property during his imprisonment for High Treason in 1602 to another infamous colonial adventurer, Richard Boyle, later 1st Earl of Cork.

Boyle came to Ireland from England in 1588 with only twenty-seven pounds in capital and proceeded to amass an extraordinary fortune. After purchasing Lismore he made it his principal seat and transformed it into a magnificent residence with impressive gabled ranges each side of the courtyard. He also built a castellated outer wall and a gatehouse known as the Riding Gate. The principal apartments were decorated with fretwork plaster ceilings, tapestry hangings, embroidered silks and velvet. It was here in 1627 that Robert Boyle The Father of Modern Chemistry, the fourteenth of the Earl’s fifteen children, was born. The castle descended to another Richard Boyle, 4th Earl of Cork & 3rd Earl of Burlington, who was a noted influence on Georgian architecture (and known in architectural histories as the Earl of Burlington).

Lismore featured in the Cromwellian wars when, in 1645, a force of Catholic confederacy commanded by Lord Castlehaven sacked the town and Castle. Some restoration was carried out by Richard Boyle, 2nd Earl of Cork (1612-1698) to make it habitable again but neither he nor his successors lived at Lismore.

The Dukes of Devonshire

Lismore castle maps

The castle (along with other Boyle properties – Chiswick House, Burlington House, Bolton Abbey and Londesborough Hall) was acquired by the Cavendish family in 1753.

The daughter and heiress of the 4th Earl of Cork, Lady Charlotte Boyle (1731-1754) married William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire, a future Prime Minister of Great Britain & Ireland.

Their son, the 5th Duke (1748-1811) carried out improvements at Lismore, notably the bridge across the river Blackwater in 1775 designed by Cork-born architect Thomas Ivory.



Castle Gardens

The castle’s gardens are open to the public and feature contemporary sculptures, including works by Anthony Gormley, Marzia Colonna and Eilís O’Connell. The upper garden is a 17th-century walled garden while much of the informal lower garden was designed in the 19th century.

You can visit the Gardens of the Castle during the summer months for a fee of €8 and they are wonderful.

Gallery of Lismore

For the best views of the castle itself you need to cross the river and enter the fields below the castle on the other side of the bridge crossing the Blackwater river.

I spent a couple of hours in these fields just walking along the river and taking some photo’s of the castle above me, its just a wonderful spot to sit down and watch the fish jumping and the Herons hunting for fish in the river.

The Images Below are just some that I took, I hope they have captures a sense of this place…..

Lismore castle 1
Sigma SD15, 15-30mm f3.5-4.5 lens, Iso 50
Lismore Castle, country Waterford
Irish Landscape photography : Nigel Borrington

Lismore castle 2
Sigma SD15, 15-30mm f3.5-4.5 lens, Iso 50
Lismore Castle, country Waterford
Irish Landscape photography : Nigel Borrington

Lismore castle 3
Sigma SD15, 15-30mm f3.5-4.5 lens, Iso 50
Lismore Castle, country Waterford
Irish Landscape photography : Nigel Borrington

Lismore castle 4
Sigma SD15, 15-30mm f3.5-4.5 lens, Iso 50
Lismore Castle, country Waterford
Irish Landscape photography : Nigel Borrington

Lismore castle 7
Sigma SD15, 15-30mm f3.5-4.5 lens, Iso 50
Blackwater river/Lismore Castle, country Waterford
Irish Landscape photography : Nigel Borrington

Lismore castle 6
Sigma SD15, 15-30mm f3.5-4.5 lens, Iso 50
Blackwater river/Lismore Castle, country Waterford
Irish Landscape photography : Nigel Borrington