Irish Castles for Sale in Ireland
For centuries, castles have held a peculiar sort of sway over imaginative people. We forget that they were originally built as fortresses, not merely things of beauty. To our modern minds, they are extravagantly arrayed in all manner of things irrelevant to protection from a sieging army. The turrets, towers, arched doorways, and the intricately carved gargoyles are all linked to maidens and knights and lords and dragons, betrayals and romances, births and deaths, war and peace. Many of the castles around Europe would still be in great condition if it weren't for the sieges they have endured and the catapulted boulders their walls have withstood. They were built to last thousands of years, into our generation and beyond.
And some of them are for sale. Below, you'll find descriptions of several Irish castles on the market. Perhaps your imagination will run wild with these pictures and details and you will suddenly remember that you have a rich uncle. Perhaps you will merely sigh and store up this information for a later day. Whatever the outcome, I hope you will enjoy.
1. Cloghan Castle in Ireland
New to the market is Cloghan Castle, a vine-covered beauty built on 152 acres of lush and wooded land. This is considered the oldest inhabited castle in Ireland and was built by an Irishman named Eoghan O’Madden, a Gaelic chieftain who owned more land than any chieftain before him. His story is fascinating in its own right, as he travelled on many crusades with his father and married a Norman woman, probably one who he met on his crusades. In 1601, after an attack which left the structure damaged by fire, the Crown gave Cloghan Castle to Sir John Moore, and it stayed in his family for close to eighty years.
The current owners have completely restored this property, taking it from a bare and windswept ruin to a luxurious medieval gem. Says the owner, Michael Burke,
"The aim was to recreate what it was like to live in a medieval castle, but without having to suffer the deprivation of thirteenth century living, initially with the idea of using it as a family home. We used local craftsmen and tried to source local materials as much as possible. While it was a huge undertaking we never felt we had taken on too much, we really enjoyed the work and feel that when we die we will have left something for future generations. It’s a landmark that would otherwise be just a heap of stones today."
It has six bedrooms (two of which are en-suite), a great hall, a dining room, drawing room, office, kitchen, store room, and service quarters, all of which are spread over three floors. It hosts hundreds of special events each year, including weddings and parties, and also enjoys taxation discounts for its historic value. Surrounding it are three gardens, including an herb garden and a terraced garden. Beyond lie acres of wooded hillside and pastureland where a flock of rare Jacob sheep graze. In the winter, flooding rivers create a seven mile lake which becomes a refuge for thousands of wild birds.
Contact Helen Cassidy, the auctioneer at Premier Properties Ireland, for more information or to make an offer (on this and all other properties described in this article).
2. Heathfield Castle
West Limerick's scenic drive will take you past this charming site, straight out of an old-world faerie tale. Though the exterior looks thoroughly historic, the interior is outfitted with all the modern conveniences of a 21st century mansion. Heated Italian marble floors with thermostats in every room effectively warm the stone and plaster rooms, and numerous large windows make the inside light and airy. The round tower has a spiral staircase, and interior doorways are hewn into the traditional gothic arch shape, adding to the fairytale design.
Unlike many other medieval castles, this one has great floor plans and nicely-placed individual rooms within the larger rooms, giving the interior a cozier feel. Five beautiful bedrooms, a gigantic kitchen made of marble and stainless steel, a greeting room that looks out over the front gardens, a great hall with a fireplace and arched ceilings, and many more beautiful chambers, curving staircases, and sunny hallways give it a feel of homeyness. What's more, an intercom system connects all the rooms!
The gardens rival Hampton Court, with beautiful terracing, pond and streams, twelve waterfalls (including one 12 metres high!), little stone walls along winding pathways, and benches placed strategically in romantic places under flowering trees. My favorite is the adjoining Ballinruane Wood: 1,000 acres of fantasy-land-exploring potential (though the grounds also include a golf course for more structured sporting).
This property is also available through Helen Cassidy with Premier Properties Ireland.
3. Grantstown Castle, Kilfeacle, Co. Tipperary
A single tower stands 22 meters tall on a slowly rising hill surrounded by a loyal gathering of three rustic Tudor cottages. The tower is in good company. To the south lie the Galtee Mountains, and to the north, the Silvermine Mountains spread with wild abandon. The biggest and most picturesque ruined Abbey in Ireland, Athassel Priory of 1200, is only 5 km away, and two additional historic castles and a tower are in close proximity. Also nearby is the Rock of Cashel, where the Kings of Munster ruled during the 4th century.
The Grantstown Castle has a cozy, rustic feel, as well as all the strategic essentials, including a tight, winding staircase for hand-to-hand combat (or carrying your tea and cookies from the kitchen to the study), a "murder hole" over the entryway for dropping hot oil on intruders as they come through the door (or for sprinkling petals!), and a few arrow slits that open on an informative view of the surrounding countryside. Several of the windows even have stained glass!
The ground floor is divided into two rooms. The eastern room has a lovely terra cotta Spanish tile floor and access to the electrical mains and water system. The western room would work well for a bedroom or kitchen, with two lovely arches that add a regal touch. The great hall has been remodeled as a minstrel's gallery, with imported German oak. A large stone fireplace exudes warmth and hospitality. It spans five floors, with 3,300 square feet of living space. Scroll down for pictures of the rustic luxury of one of the bedrooms, the bathroom, and the inside of the hobby room.
The grounds include two acres of garden and wild grassy meadows and some ancient trees.
For sale at €795,000. Contact Helen Cassidy of Premier Properties Ireland for more details.
4. Strongford Castle
Located in beautiful pastureland near Craughwell, County Galway, Strongford Castle was built in the 15th century by the wealthy de Burgos family, direct descendants of William the Conqueror. Two gargoyles snarl at every visitor that comes through the arched doorway. Once inside, be cautious of the "murder hole" in the ceiling above the entryway, the hole through which inhabitants could drop dangerous substances or heavy missiles on the enemy who came through their doorway. The galley kitchen is accessible from the front hallway, outfitted with a modern sink and countertop.
As you continue to explore, you will notice that all the interior walls are whitewashed stone, and small slit windows give a narrow view of the scenery outside. On the ground floor, the great hall is warmed by a wood stove and well-lit by a chandelier. A long winding stone stairway leads upstairs, where the lordly master bedroom awaits in all its regality: dark wood crossbeams above small slit windows, red deal floor, expansive space in every direction, and, wonder of wonders, a shower in the turret.
Rumor has it that the asking price is €650,000 but you should contact the agent, Helen Cassidy, for more info if you're interested.
5. Clonony Castle
Built in the 1500s by the McCoughlan clan who owned the surrounding countryside and built their castles at over a dozen other sites, Clonony Castle was the hiding place of Anne Boleyn's family when King Henry VIII decided it was time to execute her, his second wife. It was subsequently owned by other noblemen including Matthew de Renzi in 1620, and by a barrister-at-law named Edmond Molony who wrote a famous epitaph on his wife's tombstone praising her for her talent in watercolors and her "passionate, and tender" love for him.
This is the castle for you if you prefer a rich historical background and meager to rustic livability. Standing tall on three acres of verdant grass and surrounded by a moat, it has lost little of its original medieval charm.
Photos and more info available from Premier Properties Ireland.
6. Killahara Castle
Owners began a complete restoration in 2006 and just recently finished the job. Now, it has a great heating system, wide windows on the all floors that let in light and warmth, subtle electric wiring for easy electricity, and a lower expectation for future maintenance. Wide spiral stairways and larger living spaces than you would normally expect from a vertical castle like this complete the picture.
This fortress also boasts incredible views from all sides, and sits on seven acres of its own land, including a beech-tree forest and a little avenue that runs through it. It is located near historical Dovea, which gives it a rural feel without entirely isolating it.
Owning a Castle
A real estate auctioneer in Galway who specializes in castles, Helen Cassidy, interviewed by Medieval News, says that buyers and owners often have many legal issues to overcome. "You do have to be lion-hearted to take one of these on. People who buy them tend to have done their homework." She goes on to say that even though it is a huge piece of real estate, it really doesn't make a very good financial investment. Restoration is nearly a constant project, and they often have terrible insulation and can't retain heat, making them expensive to keep warm.
The legal ramifications of buying an historical attraction are also something to consider. According to Helen Cassidy, the buyer should thoroughly research the history of prospective properties and should get good legal help to find out what has been done in the past that may decrease or increase their value.
In spite of all the legal and financial expense, castles will continue to draw people to them, whether they happen to be driving by on a scenic byway or making a planned stop. Many owners don't live on site, but instead charge tourists for tours. Others have turned their properties into bed and breakfasts, or offer their gardens or great halls for destination weddings. This brings in income for owners and provides great motivation to keep the property in good shape.
Many Irish Castles for Sale
Ireland literally has thousands of castles, and many have appeared on the market recently. They range from having lavishly decorated and completely remodeled interior, to being wall-less or roof-less piles of historic rubble. Some sellers have compiled in-depth historical accounts of what their properties have been through, while others have a history that can only be imagined (or have yet to be discovered)!
Whatever your interest, know that there are plenty of resources available to help you make an informed decision as you explore your childish fascination for castle lore.
©2013 Jane Grey