Huntington Castle, also known as Clonegal Castle, from the name of Clonegal village in County Carlow, the ancient seat of the Esmonde family is today one of Ireland’s historical treasures. Voted one of Ireland’s top 20 Hidden Gems by The Guardian. It is situated on the road between Dublin and Wexford.
The castle was built in 1400 as a fortress for the Caviness family, an old Irish clan, on the site of a former convent. Originally, the Castle was used for defense purposes as a garrison due to the strategic location of the village of Clonegal during the Cromwell Campaign in Ireland.
At the beginning of the 17th century, Clonegal Castle, the surrounding marsh meadows and orchards became the property of Sir Laurence Esmonde. The castle in its present form owes its decorative architecture to the First Lord Esmonde, who rebuilt it in 1625 replacing an earlier fortress and his grandson called it “Huntington”.
Currently Huntington Castle is open to the public. It can be visited with a guide, usually one of the descendants of the family.
You’d never expect to find a castle like this in a little Carlow village. Huntington Castle is magical, like a living museum filled with objects of beauty and history.
The story of Huntington Castle is unusual in Ireland – the Esmonde/Durdin Robertson family (who have been there for centuries) managed to avoid the usual unhappy fate of Irish gentry and so their castle has escaped intact. Thus the family still live there, surrounded by centuries of history.
The castle is not big but beautiful, the interiors are interesting, full of interesting items, about which the guide tells various anecdotes, e.g. when a crocodile skull was prepared, one of the aunts recalls who, at the age of 16, killed this formidable owner of the skull, and the vines are climbing on the ceiling of the conservatory, it is supposed to come directly from a tribe given to the family by Anna Boleyn.
In the castle cellars, which formerly housed the treasury and the castle kitchen, now there is a Temple of the Goddess Isis.
Huntington Castle is an extremely mystical place, because it is also the seat of the international organization “The Fellowship of Isis” – FOI (Team of Isis), associating 21,000 members in many countries. The team of Isis was founded by Olivie Robertson – a descendant of the family and the owner of the castle. FOI’s task is to promote knowledge about the Egyptian goddess Isis – the sister and wife of Osiris, whose temple is located in the basement of the castle and is open to visitors.
Huntington Castle delighted Stanley Kubrick, who chose the castle as the setting for his epic, “Barry Lyndon.”
Visiting the castle inside takes about one hour and half. You can also admire not very large, but beautiful gardens with a row of five-hundred-year-old trees, there are fish ponds, a lake, there is also a greenhouse with exotic vegetation, but what immediately attracts the attention of visitors to Huntington Gardens are unusually tall palm trees and beautiful cypress trees.
The entire property can be visited from May to September. Castle, Gardens and Tearooms are Open Daily (until end of September and weekends only in October : 11am to 5pm. Castle Tours are at: 2pm, 3pm, 4pm and 5pm daily. Tickets: Castle Tours & Gardens: €10 per Adult €5 per Child Gardens and Playground: €6 per Adult €3 per Child.
Huntington Castle offer guests the chance to stay in the Castle on a B&B basis or Self Catering options in the Esmonde Wing and Castle Cottage. There are also tearoom and gift shop offers delicious cakes and treats as well as unique and unusual gift ideas.
There are various myths that Huntington Castle is haunted by ghosts, including Druid spirits, their ghostly figures most often appear in a place called Yew Walk, where there is a 600-year-old tree, one of the few survivors from the monastery times, its intertwined branches create a kind of tunnel – a gate to another time. There is also the ghost of Mr. Esmonde’s first wife appearing in the gardens by the moonlight – a woman combing her long hair in the moonlight, despairing because her husband and son have gone to war. There is also a specter of a soldier who, while Cromwell’s forces were going to the castle, dressed up in the enemy’s uniform to gather information about his plans, unfortunately, when he returned from the reconnaissance, his companions did not recognize him and shot him through the grate in the door, in which his ghostly the face still appears today. There are also, of course, ghosts walking in the castle corridors, the ghost of Barbara St. Lego and her maidservants, the ghost of Bishop Leslie Limerka, who often stayed in the castle in the 18th century, the bishop visits the so-called room with a four-poster, apparently, has already scared many guests who stayed here for the night.
No wonder Huntington Castle is famous for being one of the most haunted castles in Ireland. It is the perfect place to spend a Halloween, where events called ghost hunting are organized.
It is also an ideal place for special occasions such as Christenings, Birthday parties, Confirmation parties, Special family gatherings, Concerts, Corporate or business events.
The Castle is refferd as one of the most romantic locations in Ireland.
Huntington Castle is an interesting place, worth visiting because of its unique, magical atmosphere. It is one of the most interesting and historic treasures of Ireland, not only County Carlow.
Visit official website: www.huntingtoncastle.com
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