Memories of Ireland: Ross Castle

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Ireland Week continues here! (see yesterday’s post here)

On day 6 of our Irish holiday, we awoke in Tralee to the same Irish cloud that had seemingly stalked us the through entire the week. By now we certainly weren’t going to let any cloud put us off from exploring and we set off to the town of Killarney. After a quick stroll through this pleasant town, which has long history of catering to tourism, we decided to head further south to Ladies View; a scenic point in the Ring of Kerry.

However as we were driving out I noticed signs pointing to a castle, being the avid historian that I am, I suggested we take a look at Ross Castle. Being situated on the banks of Lough Leane, within the beautiful Killarney National Park (Ireland’s first), Ross Castle certainly doesn’t lack for stunning landscapes. With the Ireland’s largest mountains, the MacGillycuddy Reeks, dominating the south; while the Isle of Innisfallen sits to the north on the calm waters of the lough.

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The shores of Lough Leane

We parked at the castle car park (not free) and went to explore, not knowing what to expect I was surprised to see such a large keep hidden away behind the treeline. However in order to explore the castle we had to pay for a guided tour and photos were not allowed inside (sorry, exterior photos only for this post).

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Ross Castle and its ducks

The Castle itself is a typical squared keep styled build, constructed in the 15th century to serve as a seat of power for the local ruling family, the O’Donoghues. Overtime additional features were constructed including an adjacent barracks and a surrounding curtain wall. The keep consists of five stories, with each floor performing a different function, with the bottom floor a larder while the top floor served as a Great Hall and as a last desperate defensive position.

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Ross Castle, in all its grey glory

Ownership of castle passed into the hands of the MacCarthy family after the Second Desomond Rebellion in the 1580s, after which the castle was given to Sir Valentine Brown, whose descendents (the earls of Kenmare) would own the castle thereon until the late 1600s. The castle was one of the last to fall to Cromwellian forces during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, and only after the Roundheads brought up a cannon carrying warship, via the river Laune that fed into the lough. Afterwards it served as a family home to the Browns, until it was acquired by the crown in the 1680s,and then turned into a military barracks. After the army finally abandoned the castle in the 19th century, the Browns declined to move back in and the Ross Castle was left to fall into ruin. However due to the painstakingly hard work of the Public Works Office the site has now been restored, with some incredible replicas being produced for the castle, including some great tapestries and traditional woodwork.

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Ducks, ducks upon ducks

After the tour we went back to the car, fighting through the droves of ducks that inhabit the castle grounds, and drove on to Ladies View; high in the mountains. Here and with my history hunger satisfied, we were greeted with a cloudy, but no less spectacular, view of Killarney National Park.

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Killarney National Park, from Ladies View

Thus concludes my tale , if you enjoyed this story feel free to write in the comments, or leave like and thanks for reading.

Also don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and visit me at Google+ for more updates and pictures. Or now check out my Facebook page for much more photos of this walk and more.

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