During our roadtrip to the South of Europe in July we’ve decided to get off the highway and find a nice place to spend the evening and have some food.
We were lucky enough to end up in Wasserburg!
I visited a real Irish haunted castle! Charleville Castle was built in late 1700 by Charles William Bury, Earl of Charleville and was designed by Francis Johnston, one of the leading architects of the day. When you drive towards Tullamoore in County Offaly in the Irish Midlands you see the castle in the distance but no signs on how to get there. Later we discovered that even though the castle is owned and maintained by one person, the grounds still belong to a distant relative of the Earls who used to live there. The dear old man keeps removing all the signs the owner of the castle puts up.
We found ourselves on a dirt road to a farm at first but eventually we found the road through the dense, old forest that forms the estate. The forest is quite dense, very green and the further you follow the road the more you feel isolated and like you are entering a special place. After passing the old broken gate you see the castle in front of you.
To enter we had to ring a bell on the door, we heard some noise inside but no one opened. The place started to feel a bit scary.. Eventually a nice Romanian girl opened the door and let us through the castle and told us about the history and the alleged ghosts.
Two of the Earls of Charleville were Grandmasters in the Freemasons of Ireland and hat the towers are designed with an eight point star construction . The castle was purposely built on Electro Magnetic Ley Lines.
I’m not sure about the ghosts but I did get a chance to see the ley lines in action. We visited the two towers and when the girl told us that objects would move when holding them above the line or the center I was a bit skeptic so decided to prove her wrong using my own necklace. In the first tower the necklace started to move a bit. I was still convinced this was my own doing. We went on towards the other castle via the hallway where the Earls daughter had died by falling down the staircase. Over here my camera wouldn’t focus. According to our guide it was the ghost. Maybe it was something else though ;)
In the second tower my necklace started to move around rather actively! Not sure what to think of it but it seems odd to me. Maybe it is a special place.. Anyways, they are always looking for volunteers and I’m considering to sign up, just to find out if all the scary stories about nightly visitors are true. At least the place is a lovely photography spot!
Below a bit of history from the Charleville website:
In the 6th century, these lands were part of an ancient monastic site of Lynally, which itself was an ancient Durrow monastic settlement.
Later, in the early days of Ireland’s colonization, when the city of Dublin felt threatened by the wild tribes of the West, these lands became the focal point for the first Stuart, and later more violent Elizabethan, plantations.
Charleville Castle stands in an ancient Oak-forest site on lands that were once part of an estate which began to be assembled following on from a gift of 1,700 acres to the Moore family, made in 1577 by the Queen Elizabeth I.
A member of the Moore family was raised to the Earldom of Charleville, but the title lapsed in 1764 due to the lack of heirs in the direct male line. The lands, however, were eventually inherited by the six-month old infant Charles William Bury, born into Co. Limerick land-owning family, who was importantly, also a grand-nephew of the last Earl.
Tullamoore in these times was a village generally featuring thatched roofs and was largely destroyed by fire in 1785 as result of an hot-air balloon being mismanaged during the 21st birthday celebrations of Charles William Bury. The rebuilding of Tullamoore on an improved plan and scale, with wider streets and more substantial buildings, was sponsored by the trustees and estate of Charles William Bury.
Charles William Bury was created Baron Tullamoore in 1797, and, as a man of considerable wealth, joined into a fashion of castle building by engaging the services of the renowned architect Francis Johnston in the planning of castle to be built near Tullamoore.
The construction of Charleville Castle commenced in 1798 and over the subsequent fourteen years, some fourteen hundreds man-years were involved in the building of what many consider to be the finest neo-Gothic castle in all Ireland. The wonderful craftsmanship involved being mainly due to the skills of Irish people.
Charles William Bury was raised to the restored Earldom of Charleville, as first Earl of the second creation, in 1806.
In 1833, Tullamore, having expanded greatly in population and wealth due to being a terminus of the Grand Canal, was recognised as the county town of the then King’s county in preference to Philipstown which had performed that role since the times of Philip and Mary. The Charleville Estate extended to some 24,000 acres at its zenith but changing fortunes and changing times brought with them new ownership for most of these lands. Amongst the refurbishments to the castle which took place in later years were the addition of stenciling, designed by the celebrated William Morris, to the dining room in the 1890′s.
The Earldom lapsed again for want of heirs in 1885 with the estate passing to the ownership of a niece – Lady Emily.
On Lady Emily’s marriage some years earlier, the family took the name Howard-Bury to comply with certain terms in the title deeds of the Estate they seemed due to inherit. Colonel Charles Kenneth Howard-Bury, a son of this marriage, was notable as an explorer and amateur botanist in the Himalayas. Colonel Howard-Bury, who had twice escaped from prisoner of war camps during the recent “Great War”, was sufficiently recognised as an explorer, linguist and diplomatist, to be appointed leader of the first expedition which set out to climb the Mount Everest in 1920-1921.
Whilst Colonel Howard-Bury was not himself actively involved as a climber, George Mallory and other members of the expedition team reached some 23,000 feet without benefit of oxygen cylinders or other more recent sophistication’s in equipment.
This expedition, which received an enormous public following, effectively provided survey information invaluable to subsequent expeditions and established the North Col route as the route of choice for several early attempts on Everest.
The surname Howard-Bury is reflected in the Latin name of a plant brought back from the Himalaya region by the Colonel. A room in the Royal Geographical Society in London is named in honor of Colonel Howard-Bury.
Following on from this expedition to the Himalayas, the Colonel won a seat in the House of Commons. A later attempt was made at involvement in political life in the Irish Legislature.
Although Colonel Howard-Bury inherited Charleville Castle on his mother’s death in 1931, it was left with only a nominal caretaker staff. Indeed, some years earlier, the Colonel had inherited the smaller and more manageable, but exquisite, Belvedere House near Mullingar – in later years, the Colonel also spent most of his time on an estate he had purchased in North Africa.
Upon the Colonel’s death in 1963, the castle became uninhabited and even has its roof deliberately damaged as a device for the avoidance of paying high local property levies. Given the condition of the roof, the authorities agreed to deem the castle as being a ruin.During the later 1970′s, the long term lease of the castle was taken up by persons who deplored the state into which the castle was falling and a move was made towards turning the tide of neglect and disrepair. Modern day Irish craftsmen with traditional skills have subsequently been involved in a gradual and loving restoration. Fortunately, some of the finest features of the castle (The Gallery, The entrance Hall, Main Staircase and Landing, The Library, The Morning Room and The Dining Room) did not suffer critical damage in the interim.
The things that go down on the Irish countryside.. Roadtrips never get boring!
We were driving through Connemara and on our way home we were compelled to stop after seeing signs for a ‘Sheep Race’ taking place that day. I’ve been to the horse races and the dog track around Dublin but this was new to me.
Be amazed ;)
More abandoned buildings today. In Ireland you find tower houses. Big mansions with (surprise ;) ) some kind of watch tower. I should find some photo’s of a tower house restored but this small one I found driving along Killarney National Park. Just after a sharp bend in the road it was standing there in the sun. I did climb over a few fences that weekend…
It seems like Irish summer has started. I have to admit, it feels great! I might have said before that Dublin isn’t a nice city but last night from the rooftop, enjoying the sun it looked pretty good.
The only thing keeping us foreigners down here are the Irish. Quotes like ‘Enjoy it, this will be the few days of summer we get this year’ and ‘Wow, it’s so hot!’ To clarify, that last comment was made when it was 19 degrees at lunchtime ;)
For now we will enjoy it, for as long as it lasts and a sunny picture to match!
I took this picture on a morning in April in Kinsale in the South of Ireland. We were driving along the coast and we were there quite early (read: before the tour buses were in operation). Kinsale is a small town with a pretty harbor and a few medieval buildings. I enjoyed wandering through the small streets in the morning sun before a stop at a lovely bakery and the rest of the route along Cork’s coastline.
One of the things I love about making roadtrips here in Ireland are those small sheds and abandoned houses (or even tiny castle-like buildings) you find along the road. I can never resist stopping to take a few pictures. That has got me in some awkward situations with my car parked half on those narrow roads :-)
I recently discovered that Ireland every now and then does look like a real tropical Island. Along the west coast there are a few beautiful white beaches with turquoise, Chrystal clear, blue water. Sadly the temperatures didn’t really match my ideal of spending some time there ( Enjoying the warm sun, cocktail in hand) but that meant I could put some energy in taking photographs :)
I simply can’t get enough of driving along those beautiful (but bumpy and with too many sharp bends and fast driving locals!) roads along the Irish coast. Or of posting pictures taken there for that matter! Today another picture taken along the Ring of Kerry.
It is an HDR image, does anyone have any advice on what software to use for processing HDR’s? I’ve used Photomatix and PS6 before. What do you feel is the easiest and most flexible?
The lady in the picture below is one of the sisters of the Benedictine community living in, and taking care of the Kylemore Abbey in Connemara on Ireland’s West Coast.
I asked whether I could take a picture of the sister sitting at the desk below the big staircase. It turned out she is very fond of photography herself and is more than willing to pose for a picutre (on the condition that I come into the picture with her as well). She is busy making cards out of her own photographs of the place to send them to her friends. She tells me that she is so happy to live in this amazing place and she shows me her pictures of the Abbey and the surrounding nature in different weather conditions. I am especially yealous of the shots she took in beautiful evening light with no wind so a perfect reflection of the abbey in the lough. She is very pasionate in talkbin about her abbey and her mountains :)
The abbey was built in 1867 by Mitchel and Margaret Henry. Mitchel Henry built the castle on the place where Kylemore Lodge once was. The couple had spent their honeymoon there and they fell in love with the place. The Henry family lived there for several years untill Mitchel sold the (at that time) castle to te Duke and Duchess of Manchester. It is said that the Duke gambled with the deeds of the house and lost. It took a few years before the Castle was inhabited again, by the time the Benedictine sisters took it over in 1920 there was a lot of restoring to do.
When I moved to Ireland I brought my car from The Netherlands. That was such a good decision! Dublin is a nice place to stay for a while but Ireland gets really beautiful once you leave the city and explore small country roads.
Luckily it is not too hard to move a car around within the EU, I have a few more months before I’ll have to sort out how to officially import the car and see to it that I get an Irish licence plate. I briefly looked into it before and somehow it reminds me of Indian bureaucracy… To be continued!
For now I get to plan the next road-trip starting tomorrow, towards Connemara national park. We have some visitors so it’s time to explore the West coast further. The pictures below were taken along the N71 in the South of Ireland between Cork and Kenmare, we might have been on our way to The Ring of Kerry but the route there was at least as amazing as the destination!
When taking the pictures of these waterfalls the impressive and dark clouds kept closing in on us. About 15 minutes after taking the last picture in the sun we were high up in the mountains, completely in the dark and it became hard to see anything around me on the narrow winding road.
The pictures were taken around The Gap of Dunloe and in Killarney National Park.
This weekend I took some more days off to explore the south of Ireland. Credits to the picture below go to my mom, I would like to call it a creative collaboration ;)
I have lots of pictures from Cork, Kenmare, Killarney and all the gorgeous places between those towns but sadly I had to go back to work this morning. A little iPad processing in between for now….