Haunted Castle……

The beautiful entrance hall

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.

Barbara isn’t sure about going in…

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.

From the Entrance hall into the ballroom

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.

Where the volunteers sleep. Or mostly stay awake actually..
Barbara testing the Lay 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 ;)

The staircase where little Harriet fell to her death and where her ghost is seen every now and then.

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.

The library is still filled with old books and has a secret passage!

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.

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