I’ve alluded to Kilkenny Castle in previous posts; it was built by Isabel and William Marshall in 1195 on the spot where the Irish Kings of Osraige lived before the Norman invasion.

A stone castle has been on this site from the 12th century onward and in the garden, when Niña was playing on a particularly large tree stump, we counted lines / years backwards and came to the conclusion that she was playing on a stump that once belonged to a tree that was probably played on by royal heirs from the 12th century. This is rather mind blowing and until it was chopped down, it’s likely tree faired better than the castle did over centuries of neglect, war, and disrepair.

The predominant owners of the castle were the Butler family who are somehow related to the Marshall family through marriage. It was this line that begat Anne Boleyn, the woman who’s marriage to Henry VIII caused the break between England and Rome and the country’s move from Catholicism to Anglicanism. She also happened to be the mother of Queen Elizabeth I.

The Butler family owned the castle for over 500-years until the 1960s when it was bought by the Castle Restoration Committee for £50. Prior to this, the castle slowly crumbled away piece by piece until it was far too dangerous to inhabit. While various rebuilding and restructuring projects occurred over the past few hundred years, there are still areas that are too derelict to be used.

During the Irish Civil War (1923), the castle was occupied by Republican forces who took over both the castle and parts of Kilkenny. Free State Troops were deployed and the castle became the location of one of the larger battles of the war. Fighting caused a great deal of damage to the grounds and surrounding structures and it’s possible to find a bullet hole or two while walking around the castle.