Sharing the Love in Burnchurch Castle

When visiting County Kilkenny, Dave and I got to visit castles built in a couple of different styles. We did this with the help of the  Office of Public Works (OPW) branch located in the industrial park outside Kilkenny.

Just before we arrived at Burnchurch Castle, Dave had set me up for free iMessaging (iPhone texting) to his sister-in-law, Lucy.  When she texted me a video of the kids chanting “Hi, Aunt Shannon!”, it finally dawned on me that I could easily share moving images with my friends and family back home.

As Dave and I explored the castle, I sent video clips back to the States and got immediate reactions from my beloved ones.

Both the castle and the family pow-wow were amazing.

“Many tower houses have an abundance of mural chambers and passages hidden away within their walls, though few have the number and complexity of those found in the early 16th-century castle of the Burncourt FitzGeralds,” explains Ireland’s Eye.  “This well-preserved tower house, occupied until 1817, has four storeys beneath a vault with the principal chamber above, lying just below a gabled roof.”

Ireland’s Eye continues, “Apart from its mullioned windows, this chamber is noteworthy for its finely carved chimney-piece; it has a tall, round chimney, while the roof’s gable walls have been extended so that both ends of the tower are carried up an extra stage to provide high battlemented fighting platforms.”

“A great hall was formerly attached to the tower’s outside wall, but this has now vanished, as has most of the bawn. A curved outside staircase still provides access to the three upper floors of this little tower.”

Irelands Castles adds:

“There is precious little material available about this pretty well preserved Irish tower. It was built sometime in the fifteenth century by the FitzGeralds of Burnchurch in County Kilkenny. It is known for being one of several Irish towers with the slightly narrower sides of the castle extending up an additional floor, creating in essense a pair of tower wide turrets.”

“This furnishes a natural gable at both ends of the roof as well as an additional defensive level of battlements. There are numerous narrow rooms in the walls, including a ‘secret room’ on the fourth floor. The rounded chimney may be a later improvement [that on the model is square], and the fireplace in the 5th floor Hall sports a ‘joggle voussoir arch’, whatever that is.”

“The castle originally had a bawn with a 41 foot tall tower at one corner. Though the old drawing, date unknown, shows remnants of buildings, only the round tower [see both below] appears to be standing in pictures I found on the internet and in a library book. Burnchurch was apparently last occupied in 1817, but it can be explored.”

At the end of the day, Dave and I celebrated with a trip to Kyteler’s Pub (establish 1324). Dave tortured Lucy (who was visiting his Mom at the time) by texting her this catchy little video.

Cooling our Heels at a Round Tower House

Dave and Shannon at Coolhill Castle. Photo by Seán O’Brien.

Gaining entree into a castle that’s closed to the public is a thrilling event.  During our stay in Kilkenny, Dave and I visited the Office of Public Works (OPW) and borrowed the keys to Clare and Burnchurch Castles.

Imelda, Shannon, and Seán talk with Lima about conservation work underway at the castle. Photo by Dave Chance Photography.

Since we seemed so interested, the OPW staff invited us to visit Coolhill Castle as well, which is currently under renovation. The highlight of our visit to this particular Castle was meeting a couple of photography enthusiasts (Seán O’Brien and his neighbor, Imelda Maguire) where we left our cars to head across a field to the castle.

Since Dave and I had an appointment to go into the castle, we invited Seán and his Imelda to join us.

Inside the castle, we all had a fun time visiting with Liam and his colleagues from the OPW who were doing conservation work there.

The photos I am posting from our visit to Coolhill Castle were taken by Dave Chance and Seán.  You can see some of Seán’s workImelda’s work, and of course Dave’s work online.

Imelda, Liam, Shannon, and Dave enjoying views of the landscape around Coolhill Castle. Photo by Seán O’Brien.