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Our Stay in a 16th Century Irish Castle | Read about the experience of renting Killahara Castle in Tipperary, Ireland and take a tour.

Our Stay in a 16th Century Irish Castle | Read about the experience of renting Killahara Castle in Tipperary, Ireland and take a tour. 

I’m back today to share more from our trip to Ireland! If you missed part one, you can catch up here. As time passes and I get back into my routine, it strikes me how much I truly loved the country, and how instantly connected I felt to it. I called this a “once in a lifetime trip”- but I would definitely like to go back and explore more!

I left off in Galway, which was the first leg of our trip. Saturday morning we woke up and checked out of the hotel. We all piled into the car and began to make our way to Tipperary, where the friend we were traveling with had grown up. We would be staying at Killahara Castle in Thurles, which we rented through Airbnb (this is my referral link, which means if you decided to stay here, I receive a credit for future travel!).

We made a few stops along the way. There are fields full of these yellow flowers all around Ireland in April, which are used to make canola oil. 

Our friend slashed his tire on a stone wall and we pulled over to swap it out in front of this old pub just outside of Nenagh (like my first name!). I couldn’t resist the bright, chippy paint on the windows and doors!

Once we got to Thurles in Tipperary, we got a little lost trying to find the driveway for the castle. We could see the tower from the road, but there was no apparent entrance. We pulled over to track it down on Google Earth and in the meantime, we made friends with this sweet cow. I think I may be framing this one! 

We backtracked, and it turned out we had missed this gate hidden in the ivy. No big deal, just time to enter a fairytale! 

Down this long driveway, I really felt like I was heading into a magical glen…

Then everything opened up, and we finally saw it.

Our Stay in a 16th Century Irish Castle | Read about the experience of renting Killahara Castle in Tipperary, Ireland and take a tour.

The castle stood there, tall and stoic on the hilltop. There were 360-degree views of the Irish countryside, and it was just stunning. 

We made our way up to the door.

It had quite the house key!

Killahara Castle Interior Tour

 

Up close it was obvious that the door was new construction, but it was clearly a work of art that complimented the castle perfectly. 

Directly across from the door, I noticed that they left the area around the stonework cross unpainted. Such a neat detail! On Easter Sunday, the Easter Bunny hid some eggs in the stone cross. 

The ground level was primarily the kitchen. It had an interesting collection of cabinets and a long table with charmingly mismatched chairs. 

It was the perfect spot for a large group gathering! It was the room where the kids had an egg hunt on Easter Sunday (it was raining, so an outdoor hunt couldn’t happen).

This little nook had a beautiful view and a prime seating area next to the little stove. 

Up the winding staircase, there was a sitting area. We spent a lot of cozy time in here chatting while turf smoldered in the hearth. 

This was Chief O’Fogartie’s suite. He was the builder of the castle and leader of the clan. Sadly, he was killed in battle not long after the castle was completed. This is where Mack and I ended up sleeping because it was closest to the boys’ room (and I had some nerves about them with the stairs in the night). You can see the window seat and garderobe in the video tour!

This was where all four boys ended up sleeping. They thrilled and terrified each other by reading about the various battles, murders, mysteries, hangings, ghost sightings, and etcetera in the area. By the time dark came, the bravado and excitement had disappeared, and they all wanted to sleep side by side. Strength in numbers against any Cromwellian ghosts! ;) An unforgettable and fun experience for them, to be sure! 

This was the view from the top of the stairs. They were steep and winding, but really cool!

An extra suite had been added to the roof in the castle’s twenty-first-century restoration. It had stunning views of the surrounding countryside!

Even though the room was new, there was an abundance of old-world charm with the carved wood detail and claw foot tub. It would be such a romantic place for honeymooners to stay!

Killahara Castle Grounds Tour

Even the little utility shed blended so well with the architecture of the castle! 

 

I believe (but I could be wrong) that this was the “Old Church” mentioned in the history of the castle. It appeared to have been converted to a really beautiful private residence.

You can see a couple of rooks (crow-like birds) at the edge of the wood. I went for a walk down the drive one day to get photos of the gate, and there were hundreds of rooks nesting in the trees overhead (which they call a rookery). They were decidedly not happy to see me. I was lucky to get through without having to wash my hair, but I survived- and got some good photos! 

There were three local dogs that visited us frequently. They were so sweet-natured and the boys loved playing with them! 

I have a special fondness for chocolate labs! They came with me on my walk to photograph the gate. I wish I knew their names!  

The views were just beautiful in every direction. In the center of the distant mountains was Devil’s Bit. We never had the time to make the hike, but there’s a beautiful wooden cross up there that they illuminated at night. It got its name from the legend that the Devil took a bite out of the mountain and broke his teeth. He spat them out, and that became the Rock of Cashel (which I will share in my next post!). 

When the sun came out (and I will be honest, it didn’t happen very often), the light was just incredibly beautiful. The country was always beautiful, of course, but something about the sunset with the ever-present mist was particularly stunning.

I can’t help but wonder if the chunk was taken out of the side of the castle during the Cromwellian purges, the raid by the Black and Tans, or just the passing of centuries… If you’re interested in history, there’s more information here! I’m a huge history fan, so I loved that aspect of our stay.

It was an unforgettable experience, I loved the castle and always felt comfortable. Even when the wind screamed outside (and it could get quite windy up on that hill, we had one memorable trip from the car to the front door that felt like walking through a hurricane!), the interior of the castle was warm. The bathrooms were converted garderobes- so they didn’t scream luxury or anything, but that wasn’t the point of this part of the trip. It was an authentic castle that was modernized just enough. I hope to return one day! If you’re interested in staying there, here’s the listing on Airbnb. 

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Our Stay in a 16th Century Irish Castle | Read about the experience of renting Killahara Castle in Tipperary, Ireland and tour a 16th century tower castle.

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About Nina

Nina is the owner & designer of Nina Hendrick Design Company and the Nina Hendrick blog. Along with her husband Mack, she is chronicling the journey of transforming their builder-grade 80s colonial into a modern day New England dream home. Nina and Mack live in the suburbs of Boston with their three children and golden retriever Lucy.

Comments

Absolutely stunning…thanks so much for sharing your adventures with us…how nice that you were able to share this with your boys!

I just discovered your page and LOVE the posts about Ireland. I’ve been three times — once on a tour by myself as a young adult, then to Dublin to watch my daughter compete in the 2003 Special Olympics World Games, and in 2009 my daughter and I went back for a tour of the British Isles and did some ancestry research in Dublin and Loughmoe (just down the road from Thurles)! I would go again in a moment – in fact my dream is to go back for a month or so and really get acquainted with the land and the people, and finally connect the two or three generations of ancestors who started at Loughmoe Castle and ended up in Dublin, then came to the US in the 1860s. There is something about Ireland that calls one back!

I’m also enjoying your decorating and design information — much about it speaks to me. For years we lived with the design style that I referred to as “family hand-me down.” My daughter and I now live in my grandmother’s home and I am in the process of re-doing everything — which has started with a lot of looking to try to identify what my “style” might be. I know what it isn’t — I hate mid-century modern. I’ve kind of settled between cottage (which is often too pink and white and shabby for me) and softened up farmhouse. I don’t know if that is a style, but it seems to be the direction I’m headed. It is fun to find new newsletters and blogs that share different styles and ideas — although I think each person has to go with what feels right to them! Thanks for sharing and inspiring!

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