Some Irish Castles for the Month of March

If you are a fantasy author, castles are always a wonderful source of writing inspiration. They are fun to visit, great to explore, and marvelously photogenic. I love them all — from the oldest ruins in faraway lands to that delightful edifice in nearby Anaheim. March is the month of St. Patrick’s Day and I have Irish ancestry, so it seems only fitting to write about some of the Irish castles I have visited.

Blarney Castle as seen through the trees. (Photo by S. Ruff 1995).

My beloved co-author and I first traveled to Ireland during our honeymoon in 1995. We had rented a car to drive around the British Isles, so we took a car ferry across from Wales to Ireland. We started our exploration in Dublin, and then drove south, visiting sites mostly in the eastern half of the county, before taking another ferry across to Cardiff.

During the trip, we toured Blarney Castle and I kissed the stone. So I now have the gift of eloquence…or blarney…or both. (This month’s newsletter talks a little bit more about my adventures with that particular rock.)

Looking out from the battlements of Bunratty Castle. (Photo by S. Ruff 2000.)

In the summer of 2000, my brother and I took our mother on a bus tour of Ireland. It started near Shannon, went up the western side of the country, around the top of Northern Ireland, and ended up in Dublin. During the trip we got to drive through the area where my great-grandfather was born.

Our first stop on the trip was at Bunratty Castle and folk park. The castle is impressive — tall and imposing, visible from a long distance, and very well preserved. From the top, there was a great view of the surroundings. Looking out over the lands below, I could almost imagine what the countryside looked like hundreds of years before.

One of my favorite castles in Ireland was not built as an ancient fortification. Instead, Kylemore Abbey was constructed in the 19th century as a private residence. When I first read about it in the tour brochure, I was confused — with so many ancient castles in Ireland, why visit one that was less than 200 years old?

Beautiful Kylemore Abbey. (Photo by S. Ruff 2000.)

Then I found out why. Kylemore Abbey is beautiful. It sits amid greenery beside a lake. Even on the rainy day when we visited, I could catch glimmers of the building’s reflection in the water. My photo included in this blog post does not even begin to capture the full beauty of the building and the lake beside it. It is well worth a visit.

Talk to you in April!

-Susan 3/3/2003