We got off to a proper Irish start and hit the road around half past twelve. We were going to The Giants Causeway but decided to head south instead, that's the completely opposite direction for those of you who are not up on your Irish geography. Our destination was Charleville Castle in Tullamore. According to the above link, out tour guide and 7 years of architectural school I can safely say it's a fine specimen of Gothic Revival archetype.
Construction started in 1798 and was completed in 1814. The architect was Francis Johnston who was best know for the General Post Office (GPO) on O'Connell Street in Dublin.
Symmetry is the name of the game in the castle with many faux doorways to give the illusion of real symmetry. Most of the woodwork is oak and was imported from American as at the time of construction it was illegal to cut down oak trees in Ireland.
Another interesting fact was all workers were payed with "The Lords Shillings". Theses coins had the stamp of the castle owner and could be used by the workers to pay rent and buy necessities in Tullamore. Then the landlords and store owners would travel to the castle where the Lord would exchange the coins for real money. This was a very clever way of making sure your staff stayed put as the coins were no good outside town. So, the workers were not exactly slaves or encouraged to leave, but they were definitely not free men.
Viewing the Chaple from the dining room.
JMan an Jess.
On the way out we spotted this.
Here's a 750 year old oak tree that was struck by lightning a week before Lord Bury died. The branch that was struck fell off the tree but over time it started to grow back into the tree. This is where the legend of the Lords ghost comes from, it's said that because the branch started growing again he can't pass through to the other side. This and many other ghost stories are associated with Charleville Castles.
The tree is so big I could not fit it in a pano.
The boys reclining on the oak.
Leaving Tullamore we headed to Birr. Our destination was Birr Castle. Along the way we got side tracked by the following.
Interesting name for a pub wouldn't you say.
Also, we spotted a few tractors parked in odd positions. Now where did I leave them keys again.
Birr Country Offaly Ireland. This is what you'd call a smallish town in the middle of nowhere. Without Birr Castle I'm not sure what else it could/would offer. Staying in a local hotel is a first for me. Over the years I went through the place many time and visited the castle on a few occasions, but I never set down temporary roots.
JMans climbing the walls at 8:55pm. It's light out until almost 10:30pm this time of year.
Back wall of Birr Castle.
Anyone remember this guy!
Doorway in the main square.