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Castlegarde is a five storey castle originally said to be located in Co. Tipperary.

Names:  Garth, Kass Lannengard, Castle na Garde, Castle Garre.

 

1198 – Built by the O’Briens (with the Normans).  The largest stones being raised onto platforms formed by timbers inserted in the walls as they were raised.

1225 – May have been owned by the Fitzgeralds.

1296 – Le Garth (Garth supposedly meaning craftsmen) owned by Hugh Purcell.

1302 – Church of Garth – ecclesiastical taxation was 5 marks (about £3)

1735 – Sold by Rt Hon Viscount Fane to Rt Hon Marmaduke Caghil.

1738 – Transferred to Mary Caghil willed

1739 – Willed to Rt Hon Charles Barron of Tullamore

1758 – Barron of Tullamore made first Earl of Charleville

1823 – The “new” Castlegarde was opened. The honourable Waller O’Grady married the Honourable Grace Elizabeth Massey in Dublin on June 26th. They lived in the wonderfully restored castle.  the architectural design was by the famous James and George Pain (“the pain brothers”)

1825 – Hugh Hamon Massey O’Grady born 6th October

1857 – Hugh married Eliza Selena Maria Hutchinson of Timoney Park, Co. Tipperary

1860 – Hugh’s second son, Hugh Hamon Massey O’Grady (named after his father) born in July posthumously.

1890 – He married Mary Margaret Frances Vere Hunt in Donohill.

1930 – He died on the 30th of June leaving all to his wife.  She died in October of the same year and left all to her nephew, Hugh Edward Thompson who then passed it on to his son David Hugh Thompson.

  • The residential ghost, “lady in silk” seems to be in chains – she can be heard clanking these on the stone circular stairs of the Norman tower, however she rarely visits these days.
  • The murder hole – within the 8 foot thick wall at the base which tapers to 4 foot at the top of the 5 stories. It is a man made hole down the centre of the wall from the 4th floor to the ground. It is now filled in and covered.
  • The ceiling of 2 rooms from the top are arched like a bridge as protection against the roof falling in.
  • Metal Shields;  these are clipped at the side of lower level windows which can be clipped into position for safety from any outside threat.
  • The castle was built on this site because of 3 criteria:
  1. Defendable – on the Mulcair Plain
  2. Water – a very good well
  3. Foundation – rock which projects into some lower tower rooms
  • Motto – “Vulneratus Non Victus” (wounded but not conquered)
  • The Queen Elizabeth 1st’ Army General sent her the majesty a message that he could not take Castlegarde due to the great floods of the Mulcair river.
  • Guard tower – 4 stories on the right side of the “grand” gate and on the left and eagle keeps an eye on all entrants.
  • The Statues – Bacchus (greek god of wine), Venus (greek goddess of love), and Athene (greek goddess of wisdom, industry and war).

  • The stone head above the main door into the castle – Brian Boru; first became High King of Munster and then High King of Ireland.  Killed at his victorious battle of Clontarf in 1014.  This is considered to be the best sculpture of his head in Ireland.

As Castlegarde is approached one cannot be but impressed by the Highbawn wall that encloses the medieval tower and its mid 19th century extensions.  Such bawns (the word derives from the Irish word “Bó”) were not infrequent features of tower houses and served as an enclosure within which cattle could be kept and reminds us that the ancient world of Celtic Ireland a man’s worth, and a woman’s dowry, were measured in cows.

Entrance to the bawn is by way of an impressive gateway and it’s associated gatehouse. This feature, like the extension to the tower house, was designed by James Pain (1779-1887) the famous English born Limerick based Victorian architect who left his mark throughout Munster and beyond.  The gatehouse, or lodge, is an impressive structure.  Circular in shape, its design is reminiscent of drum towers found at sites such as Windsor Castle.  Its battlements are supported on a string course, supported in turn on corbels that project from the curving wall.  This design features continuous out over the wide gothic arch of the gateway itself.  Within the bawn, the reverse side of the gateway is decorated at parapet level with statues depicting three ancient deities of the classical world; Bacchus. Venus and Athene as aforementioned.

Beneath the bawn, and in the eastern part pf the enclosed area, are a series of outbuildings concealed artfully by the architects design.  The range of buildings varies from blacksmiths workshop, to a series of coach houses,  to a pragmatic toolshed.  While these can be accessed by a separate gateway off an avenue that runs to the side of the main gateway, to the casual eye of the visitor to Castlegarde there is little to indicate that the complex of structures is nothing other than the residence of an Irish Chieftain.