Category Archives: castles

Miramont Castle (Manitou Springs)

Miramount Castle (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29421&preview=true); Explorations around Manitou Springs, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 18, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography.  Manitou Springs: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613; Colorado: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613.
Miramont Castle (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29421)

Miramont Castle
~ 9 Capitol Hill Avenue Manitou Springs Colorado 80829 USA – miramontcastle@yahoo.com – http://www.miramontcastle.org/ ~

An oddity overlooking the village of Manitou Springs, Miramont castle is a manor house, museum, and tea room that was originally built in 1895. It was the private manor house for french born Catholic priest Father Jean Baptist Francolon. He later donated his home to the Sisters of Mercy for use as a sanitarium for those seeking healing from the magical waters of Manitou’s springs. The Sisters of Mercy set up the sanitarium in 1895 as a house to heal tuberculosis. They expanded the building in 1896 to take care of additional patients. The sisters were known for their motherly care, cleanliness, and excellence. They not only cared for patients, but contributed to the town’s culture, offering piano, violin, mandolin, guitar, and banjo lessons for the towns folk. The castle fell vacant from 1900 to 1904. The Sisters were urged by Dr. Geierman to purchase the castle for use with workings and healings achieved by German priest Sebatian Kneipp who initiated a water therapy system involving drinking prodigious quantities of Manitou’s healing waters as well as bathing in them several times a day. The Castle experienced a devastating fire in 1907 caused by an electrical fire, destroying part of the Montcalme sanitarium. Patients were relocated to the Castle for the next 20 years. In 1928 the Castle and sanitarium experienced financial difficulties so the sanitarium was converted to a boarding house for the wealthy and tourists, retreat for clergy, and eventually closed. It remained empty until privately purchased in 1946. The castle has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 and has achieved national landmark status. Built by Father Jean Baptiste Francolon in 1895 with an eclectic style blending various architectural styles from Byzantine to Tudor styles. It today stands as a great example of Victorian Era design. The museum is fully accessible for tours and events. There is a climbing staircase as well as two chairlifts within. The castle is rumored to be haunted with numerous ghosts and poltergeists. Visitors can view all 42 furnished rooms, the gardens, and the tea room. Rated 5 stars out of 5

Miramount Castle (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29421&preview=true); Explorations around Manitou Springs, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 18, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography.  Manitou Springs: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613; Colorado: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613.
Miramount Castle (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29421&preview=true); Explorations around Manitou Springs, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 18, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography. Manitou Springs: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613; Colorado: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613.

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Montezuma Castle

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Montezuma Castle National Monument
* Camp Verde, Arizona * http://www.nps.gov/moca/index.htm *

Thanks to the Antiquities Act of 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt celebrated it by naming and declaring four National Monuments as having such historic and cultural significance, one of these was Montezuma castle – one of the best preserved examples of cliff dwellings in the country. This 45-50 room Sinagua pueblo ruin sheltered into a natural alcove in a cliff face overlooking Beaver Creek for 400 years is a phenomenal work of art. It was excavated in 1933, and although little artifacts remained, the architecture alone made it shine above others. Early visitors were allowed entrance into the castle by climbing a series of ladders up the limestone cliffs, but due to damages from tourism, it was closed off in 1951. The park consists of over 826 protected acres at the intersection of the Colorado Plateau, Colorado Basin, and Colorado Range. The park attracts over 350,000 visitors a year and is open 7 days a week from 8 am until 5 pm, except being closed for Christmas. The National Park Service has a wonderful museum below at the gate covering the history of the Sinagua and how the cliff dwellings were constructed, displays some of the artifacts recovered, tools used for life, and presents a gift shop for tourists.

The dwellings were first built and used by the Sinagua culture, a pre-Columbian peoples who were distinctly related to the Hohokam who once lived along the valley floor. The cliff dwelling is 5 stores in height and took over five centuries to construct. The construct is stone and mortar buildings with 20 rooms that could have housed upwards of 50 people. Carved into a limestone high cliff, the natural alcove shades the room from sun and rain. It took much skill to create this masterpiece, had an incredibly defensive standpoint, and was difficult to climb up into even with the ladders. There is evidence in another cliff wall that a earlier larger dwelling, but nothing remains of it. Original artifacts remaining were minimal as the area had been highly looted through the ages. It was occupied from 1100 C.E. to 1425 C.E. with its flourishing peak around 1300 C.E. Many tribes trace their roots to this pueblo, including several Hopi clans. This makes the Castle a pilgrimage point for the Hopi and other tribes who conduct religious ceremonies at this place. The first Euro-American contact was in the 1860s which gave it the name “Montezuma Castle” a big misnomer as the Aztec Emperor of Mexico never had anything to do with this community. In fact, it was built and abandoned at least 100 years long before he was ever born. The area was briefly abandoned due to volcanic ash that came from the Sunset Crater Volcano, and its likely the sediment from that ash aided with Sinagua agricultural success. During this brief flash of history, they lived on the hills nearby, then in 1125 re-settled in the Verde Vally and re-cycled the irrigation systems set up by their ancestors the Hohokam. They evacuated the area for an unknown as of yet reason around 1425 C.E. Theories for this ranged from droughts, clashes with the Yavapai people who moved into the Valley, and/or warfare.

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“Timeless Beauty: Montezuma castle invites us to pause in wonder at the ingenuity of the people who began building it over 700 years ago. Ancestors of today’s Puebloan peoples built and occupied the Castle. We can only speculate why they chose to build here and how they lived in this magnificent cliff dwelling. Both Montezuma and Castle are misnomers. In the 1800s European Americans were fascinated with Inca, May, and Aztec civilizations and gave southwestern sites exotic names, in this case for Emperor Montezuma II – who lived long after the Castle was constructed. The Yayapai call this place the home of the protectors of the Yavapai. The Hopi refer to it as both Sakataka, place where the step ladders are going up and Wupat’pela for long high walls. Due to looting, by the early 1900s much of what the Castle’s residents left behind was gone. Damage to the building increased as visitors climbed ladders to walk through the rooms. Now this dwelling is only accessed for inspection, maintenance, and research.” ~ marker, Montezuma Castle, NM.

“Creating a home: To construct their cliff home, residents made use of a naturally eroded alcove and fit 20 rooms into the shape of its contours. Why build a home in a cliff face? There are many possibilities: proximity to water and farmland, to stay above floods, or for protection, the view, or the southern exposure that afforded winter solar heat and summer shade. A ready-made shelter also meant fewer walls and roofs to construct for housing, storage, workspace, customs, and rituals. To organize and partition the alcove space, builders created walls with river cobbles and limestone held together with mud mortar. Mud plaster covered and sealed the walls. For roof beams and floors between multi-storied rooms, they mostly used local sycamore along with some alder and ash, but also carried in fir and pine from a distance. The original roof beams protruding from the wall to the right of the tower and the large beam ending in the wall above the tower provide a sense of scale – the castle is not as high up or as large as it might appear. Each group living in the Castle likely had their own room, with roughly 140 square feet (13 sq. meters) or about 17.5 feet by 8 feet (5.3 m x 2.4 m) on average. Ceilings were at about 5 feet (1.5 meters). Peep holes and doorways provided light in the morning and early afternoon, but rooms were dark in the late afternoon and evening. Women or children likely did the plastering including annual patching of exterior walls that eroded easily – their hand prints are still visible in the plaster today.” ~ marker, Montezuma Castle, NM.

“Cycles of Care: Around the year 1400 C.E. people began leaving their homes here. Five hundred years later, its walls were still largely intact. The builders chose their home site wisely, taking advantage of the shelter that a natural alcove provided. The majority of what you see today is original, and the Castle is thought to be one of the best preserved sites from the period, likely due to its inaccessibility. Hopi and other Native consultants say dwellings like this were meant to recycle back to earth after the people left. However, in 1906 the Castle became a national monument to be managed for present and future generations. A variety of preservation treatments were applied to help withstand hundreds of thousands of visitors and keep the walls standing. Whenever possible, archaeologists attempt to match today’s treatment more closely with the original materials and building details, applying the minimum necessary to protect the integrity of the structure. ” ~ marker, Montezuma Castle, NM.

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Kildare, Ireland


Kildare, Ireland

Kildare, Ireland
* http://www.kildare.ie/ * http://www.kildaretown.ie/ *
The visit I took in July to Kildare was one of the most sacred pilgrimmages I’ve made in my life. The Goddess Brigid has been my Matron and principle Deity since 1990 (20 years). I sought out Brighid’s flame, her holy wells, and to see the town that centers around the belief of this ancient Goddess and now Catholic Saint. “Kildare” is also known as “Cill Dara”. It is one of the oldest towns in Ireland. It originated in pre-Christian times with a shrine to the Celtic Goddess Brigid. After Christianization, it became the site of the great Christian foundation of St. Brigid. The town and area is full of legends, lore, historic buildings, and ruins dating well over 1500 years. Kildare was a town even before the Vikings colonized the coast and building towns, as even though towns are believed not to have existed prior to the Vikings. We know that Kildare fit the definition of a town as Cogitosus, a 7th century monk from Kildare, described it as a “vast metropolitan city” with a street of stone steps and urban characteristics existing before the Vikings arrived in Ireland. It is on these facets alone that it can claim to be the oldest town in Ireland. Kildare owes its existence to St. Brigid who founded her monastery here in the late 5th century C.E (484). There is evidence of older Pagan shrines to the Celtic Goddess Brigid that were served by a group of young women who tended a perpetual fire that was kept alit here. Brigid was the Goddess of ars, poetry, healing, childbirh, magic, livestock, and the yield of the Earth. The earliest shrine is believed to have been built over by St. Brigid’s Cathedral and may have been associated with a particular sacred oak tree growing on the site. Some believe that the Christian St. Brigid was a convert from the Pagan women who tended the Pagan Shrine to the Goddess Brigid. Regardless of the roots, by the 5th century, a unique Christian foundation was established by St. Brigid. She chose a site at the ancient shrine, under a large oak tree, on the ridge of Drum Criadh (Ridge of Clay) and built her church. Its foundation was renamed Cill Dara (The Church of the Oak) which is where the modern name Kildare comes from. St. Conleth, another Saint popular in the area, died in 520 C.E. Brigid’s Shrine was erected by 523 C.E. St. Brigid passed away at age 70 in 528 C.E.

Kildare flourished from the early 7th century to this day. It became a grand center of learning and a school was established for students from abroad as well as the sons of the Gaelic nobility. As the foundation grew, the requirement for artisans, traders, and tillers of the soil increased until Kildare reached a proto-town status. Kildare and its political / secular powers were watched very closely by the local kings of Leinster who were based in the nearby town of Naas. There is mention in the Annals that in 710 C.E. the monastery was burned. In 756 the Bishop Eghtigin was killed by a priest at St. Brigid’s altar in Kildare as he was celebrating mass which at that time was forbidden for a priest to do in the presence of a Bishop. The Annals mention the building of a wooden church in 762 but by 770 Kildare and the monastery was burnt down again. By 772 it was burnt again on the 4th of Ides of June and again in 774. By 799 St. Conleth was placed in a shrine of gold and silver.

The Annals of Ireland referred to Kildare alot especially from the 9th-11th centuries in relation to raids and plunderings of Vikings and the Native Irish. They recorded that in 835 C.E. a Danish flet of 30 ships arrived in Liffey and another in the Boyne where they plundered every church and abbey in the region and destroyed Kildare with fire and sword carrying off the shrines of St. Brigid and St. Conleth. However the Brigidine order had removed the remains of St. Brigid and hid them in Downpatrick before her shrine was destroyed. In 868, Queen Flanna, wife of Finliath, the King of Ireland, rebuilt the Church. In 883, Ceallach Mac Bran, the King of Leinster gained a battle over Kildare in their church and slayed many in the churchyard. The same year the Danes laid spoil upon Kildare, its religious houses, and took the abbot and 280 of his clergy plus family captive. By 895 the Danish raided Kildare again. In 926 Kildare was ransacked by the son of Godfrey of Waterford and again by the Danes of Dublin in the same year carrying away numerous captives and rich booty. They ransacked Kildare again in 953. By 962 Kildare was almost completely destroyed by the Danes of Dublin and most of Kildare’s inhabitants were made slaves, yet the Collegiate School of Kildare continued teaching and the professors remained in residence. In 992 Kildare was yet, once again, destroyed and preyed upon by the Danes of Dublin. They plundered it again in 998 and 1012. In 1013 the Danes burnt Kildare down to the ground. In 1016 It was again plundered by the Danes. In 1018 it was recorded that all of Kildare except one house was consumed by lightning. According to the Annals, the Monastery was burnt through the negligence of a very bad woman. In 1040 Kildare was destroyed by fire. By 1050 Kildare and its great stone church was burnt down again and again in 1079. In 1089 the town was destroyed by fire. In 1135 the Abbess was forced from her cloister by Dermot McMurrough and made to marry one of his followers. In the course of that event, approximately 170 of Kildare’s inhabitants were slaughtered.

After the Normans landed in 1169, they came to Kildare with Strongbow using it for the center of his campaign to conquer Leinster. Giraldus Cambrensis, the Welsh chronicler of the Norman Invasion recorded his impressions of Kildare, its round tower, its marvelous manuscripts, and the Legends of St. Brigid. It was also here the very first mention of a castle in Kildare which was probabl a motte and bailey castle. The first stone castle to be built was done by the Earl Marshal on the site of the present castle in the early 13th century. Strongbow died in 1176 and by 1189 his daughter and her husband William Marshal Snr inherited Kildare castle. In 1295 John Fitzthomas quarrelled with Richard de Burgh, earl of Ulster causing unrest in Kildare. Calbach O Conchobair Failge captured the castle and burnt many of its documents, the followers of William Donyn broke into the castle and robbed it of money, cloth, wheat, oats, malt, oxen, cows, sheep, and pigs. In 1297 William de Vescy surrendered the castle to the king. The same year, Walter, son of Nicholas the chaplain, broke into the Cathedral and stole treasures from the Church. In 1032 the Inquisition claimed the Bishop of Kildare built the Castle of Kildare on church lands without permission. The Castle was sieged in 1315/1316 by Edward Bruce after a 3 day siege. Kildare and the region, being on the frontier lands of the Pale, were centrally attacked not only through history by the Vikings but dispossessed native Irish. The town went into the possession of the Fitzgerland family and by the Confederate Wars in the 1640s was garrisoned and the Cathedral stood in ruins. At this time Kildare was believed to have been abandoned and no longer inhabited. By 1798 Kildare got involved in the Rebellion and was where Lord Edward Fitzgerald, leader of the Rebellion, lived and some 350 men were massacred in Gibbet Rath when they were trying to surrender. The Jockey Club was founded in the 1700s and brought in horse training stables at the nearby Curraugh adding prosperity to the town and region with horse racing. By the 1800s the British Army artillery barracks were strongly rooted in the area and the Curraugh. With ease of access to Dublin by road and rail it became a dormitory town of Dublin and also declared a Heritage Town. Kildare’s major attractions are St. Brigid, her Cathedral, her wells, her flame, the Irish National Stud and Horse Museum, The Japanese Gardens and Visitor Center, and the Round Tower.


Cill Dara

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The Blarney Castle

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Blarney Castle
* http://www.blarneycastle.ie * Blarney, Ireland * 021-438 5252 *

The Blarney Castle and its estate is an amazing magical playground of myths and legends, faeries, and fantastical beliefs. It is one of Ireland’s most infamous hot spots and tourist locations which is most notorious for The Blarney Stone. Even the grounds in its gardens have their attractions and history, as small caves and structures in the Rock Close garden may have neolithic habitation possibilities, and potentially the home to a mythical witch that was trapped in a rock. The Blarney Witch is said to have servitude to the Castle to grant wishes for those walking up and down the Wishing Steps backwards with their eyes closed focusing on only their wish. The Close also has a Dolmen, Fairy Circle, as well as a Druid’s cave and ceremonial circle. The Martin River that runs through the estate is believed to be possessed by ghosts of salmons leaping for ghosts of flies. Enchanted cows walk from the depths of the lake to graze on the meadows below the castle. There is also a glade where Faeries are believed to be at play. The famous castle itself was built in 1446 and has ever since become one of Ireland’s most popular tourist destinations and is located in Blarney Village, just 8 kilometers from Cork City in Southern Ireland. The castle stands at around 90 feet high boldly overlooking the castle estate, grounds, and gardens. Of course the biggest draw for tourists to the castle is the magical act of hanging upside down and kissing the Blarney Stone … the action of which will endow the kisser with the gift of gab according to the legend. It is documented that more than 300,000 visitors come to kiss the stone every year. It is recorded that Queen Elizabeth I required the Irish chiefs to agree to occupy their own lands under her title. The current castle’s builder, Cormac Teige MacCarthy, the Lord of Blarneys, built this third castle incarnation in 1446 C.E. (common era) he abided by Queen Elizabeth I’s request without actually “giving in” by promising loyalty to her and handling every royal request with subtle diplomacy, just as kissing the Blarney Stone afforded him. The Queen was said to remark on McCarthy that he was giving her “a lot of Blarney” which gave rise to the saying.

The history of the land and place stretches back over two centuries before the current castle’s construction. There are remains of prehistoric sites and Druid ceremonial remains. No one knows for sure when the Blarney Stone came to the grounds, but it was believed to have arrived sometime around 1602 C.E. It is believed that the Blarney Stone, was a magical stone that was the rock that Moses struck with his staff to create the water for the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt. Another myth states it was part of Jacob’s pillow and that the prophet Jeremiah brought it to Ireland on this very plot of land. Others say its the stone of Ezel behind which David hid when fleeing from King Saul and was brought to Ireland during the Crusades. The most popular myth was it being a portion of the Stone of Scone which was used by St. Columba as a traveling altar during his missionary quests in Scotland. Upon his death it was believed to have returned to this place in Ireland to serve as the Lia Fail or Stone of Destiny atop Tara.

The first castle to be built on the land was a wooden one manifested around 950 C.E. This was replaced by a stone construction in 1210 C.E. but was torn down because of foundation problems.

The current castle is the third structure to be built on site built by Dermot McCarthy in 1446 C.E. The castle was then occupied by Cormac McCarthy, the King of Munster, who sent 4,000 men to hold Robert the Bruce at the battle of Bannockburn – and it was there that he a legend rumors that he received half of the stone of Scone from Robert the Bruce in gratitude and was then incorporated into the Castle as the “Blarney Stone“. Queen Elizabeth the I in 1586 C.E. began confiscating land in Ireland. She wanted the Blarney Castle and its ground thereby commanding the Earl of Leicester to take the Castle as she was tired of all the Blarney, and these attempts were always defeated by Cormac’s gift of gab, distracting the take-over with a feast or party, never successfully taken. A reputed treasure of a golden plate was believed to be held within the castle. The castle was besieged during the Irish Confederate Wars. In 1646 C.E. Cromwell’s General Lord Broghill broke into the Blarney Castle’s walls by placing a large gun atop Card Hill opposite and above the lake below the current castle. When they attacked and entered the keep, they discovered the main garrison had fled through the three passages known as the Badger’s Caves – one passage led to Cork, the other to the lake, and the third to Kerry. His men were not able to retrieve the legendary treasures such as the golden plate. A later landowner drained the lake thinking it was sunk within. It was not found. The Estate was then forfeited by Donogh Mccarthy, the 4th Earl of Clancarthy and the McCarthy’s reinhabited the castle in 1661 C.E. The Property was then passed to the Hollow Sword Blade Company who eventually sold it in 1688 C.E. to Sir James St. John Jefferyes, the Governor of Cork and by the 1690’s the MacCarthy’s left the castle for good.

Near the Castle is the Georgian Gothic styled Blarney House and the Rock Close was built at the beginning of the 18th century by St. James St. John Jefferyes in 1703 C.E. The court was built by 1739 C.E. and the model estate village of Blarney in 1765 C.E. The Rock Close was landscaped around the ancient Druid remains in 1767 C.E. The house was destroyed by fire in 1820. In 1825 Sir Walter Scott came to kiss the blarney stone. Father Prout in 1837 spread word of the wonders of the Blarney Stone making it even more of an attraction amongst the nobility and curious. The Irish Famine took place from 1845 and 1852. In 1846 the Jefferyes family married into the Colthurst family. The house was rebuilt in Scottish baronial style in 1874 and is still occupied by the family lineage, though through the inter-married line of the Colthurst family. In 1883 the future President William H. Taft of the United States came to kiss the Blarney Stone. By 1887 the new railway into Blarney afforded many travelers the opportunity to kiss the stone, including boxing legend John L Sullivan, at that time the reigning heavyweight champion of the world. In 1893 during the World’s Fair in Chicago the Blarney Castle and stone was mimicked with the promoters billing that it was the real stone people were kissing, this of course was false. In 1912 Winston Churchill came to kiss the stone. In 1938 American businessmen offered the Colthurst family a million dollars to allow the stone to go on tour in the U.S. but the offer was rejected. The House’s wings were reformed in the 1980’s for a better view of the castle and grounds. In 1984 Ronald Reagan claimed to have kissed the stone.

Beneath the castle lies the Badger Cave and dungeons, in its courtyard is the infamous The Blarney Poison Garden, and within the grounds are the magical fantasy land known as The Rock Close. The castle is open daily except Christmas Day and Eve. Adults are €10.00; Child €3.50; Student/OAP €8.00; Family €23.50; and newly weds wanting pictures at the Castle are admitted free. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

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The Rock Close:

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Rock Close

Rock Close
* Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland * www.blarneycastle.ie *

A mystical portal in the heart of the castle grounds of Blarney Castle is Rock Close, a place where faeries dance, Witches’ bless and answer wishes, Druids weave magic, stone monuments made, and magic is alive. The Rock Close garden is not only a site of myths and legends, but of romance and art. A dolmen greets you as you walk along the river after walking through a weaved willow tunnel, with misty meadows, moss covered rocks, and waterfalls. As you walk up the Witches Wishing steps to the Witches Kitchen and where the Witch is trapped in the stone, overlooked by the Druid Cave and by the Druid Ceremonial circle where you can walk around where the faeries play. This is one of the most fun and condensed folklore heavy sites I’ve encountered in Ireland – of course its history is a mystery in of itself. It is also a great romantic getaway from the tourist heavy section of Blarney Castle. Prehistoric dwellings adapted by 10th, 13th, and 19th century adaptations lead a lot to the imagination in this garden. In 1824, Croften Croker wrote in his “Researches in the South of Ireland” about the mysteries of this spot.

    “In this romantic spot nature and art (a combination rather uncommon in pleasure grounds) have gone hand in hand. Advantage has been taken of accidental circumstances to form tasteful and characteristic combinations; and it is really a matter of difficulty at first to determine what is primitive, and what the produce of design. The delusion is even heightened by the present total neglect. You come most unexpectedly into this little shaded nook, and stand upon a natural terrace above the river, which glides as calmly as possible beneath. Here, if you feel inclined for contemplation, a rustic couch of rock, all festooned with moss and ivy, is at your service; but if adventurous feelings urge you to explore farther, a discovery is made of an almost concealed, irregularly excavated passage through the solid rock, which is descended by a rude flight of stone steps, called the “Wishing Steps,” and you emerge sul margine d’un rio, over which depend some light and graceful trees. It is indeed a fairy scene, and I know of no place where I could sooner imagine these little elves holding their moon-light revelry. ~ Croften Croker, 1824

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It was a highly popular in the early 19th century with antiquarians. The mysteries of the Blarney Witch, the Fairies, the Druids, and the Dolmen are sure to enchant you. Blarney Castle does document that this was a place for Druidic worship. The sacrificial altar of course is hearsay, the Druid’s circle is probably, the hermit’s cave or Druid’s cave is a mystery as is the Witches’ kitchen and wishing steps. It has been documented that in the late 1700’s C.E. (Common Era) that the Rock Close was made into the garden area upon which foundations are walked upon today. Apparently the castle owners landscaped around already existing prehistoric dwellings, stone monuments, and Druid circles to make the magical faerie glen it is today.

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Rock Close: Druid’s Cave and Circle

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Druids Cave and Circle
* The Rock Close * Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland * http://www.blarneycastle.ie *

Right next to the Witch’s Stone and Kitchen is the Druid’s Circle and Sacrificial Altar that is believed to be a traditional Celtic stone circle that was once used by Druids who practiced on the grounds long ago. The Senior Druid Priest was reputed to have lived in the Druid’s cave. Nearby is the Faerie Glade, round the hill from the Witch’s Kitchen, underneath giant gunnera leaves and it is reputed to have lots of faeries. Across from the Faerie Glade is the Druid’s Circle.

Not much is known of these rock monuments, circles, and cave – but they are believed to be prehistoric dwellings and ritual sites. The Rock Close Dolmen is believed to be 4,000-5,000 years old. The Druid Circle and Cave are not officially dated nor is the Witches’ Kitchen. We do know that the castle owners in the early 1800’s landscaped around these features making the Rock Close as it is today with the myths and legends surrounding it. As Druidism in this era was word-of-mouth and oral traditions and no archaeological surveys, excavations, or artifacts – the guesses of the use of these remains are hypothetical and guess work. There is still little known about the ancient Druids even though the revivalistic Meso-Pagan and Neo-Pagan Druid faiths are very abundant today throughout the world. We do know the Druids were classed as “Bards”, “Ovates”, and “Druids” – all of whom shared similar functions albeit the Druids were the administrators and leaders, the Ovates the diviners and healers, and the Bards the story tellers, musicians, and keepers of the oral wisdom. Most of what we do know about the ancient Druids is from writings by Julius Caesar and the Romans, all biased from the enemy perspective. In that the Romans never really conquered or inhabitated Ireland like it did the rest of the Celtic world, there is no telling what the Irish Druids were up to outside of myths and legends found in the Mythological Cycle. There is a purported “sacrificial altar’ here that Blarney Castle labels as such, but it purely deduced from basic knowledge that Druids performed rituals that involved sacrifice in the ancient days.

The Echoe Ghost Hunters investigated this area in 2010-2011 and claimed very strong EMP’s were recorded in the area of the Witches’ Kitchen. Most of the lore in this area is centered around the Witch of Blarney.

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Rock Close: The Witches’ Kitchen and Stone

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The Witches’ Kitchen

Witches Kitchen
* The Rock Close * Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland * http://www.blarneycastle.ie *

In the enchanted grounds of Rock Close in the fabled lands of Blarney Castle is the infamous Kitchen of the Blarney Witch. Archaeologically it is believed to have been a prehistoric dwelling potentially as old as the Neolithic (3,000-5,000 years old) if there is any connection of it to the The Rock Close Dolmen (Blarney Castle) or the Druid’s Cave and Circle. Atop her wishing steps is her kitchen. It has a chimney and fireplace within.

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The Witches’ Kitchen

Offset from the kitchen is her stone. Apparently by legend she is bound and entrapped in the rock in servitude to bestow wishes upon those who walk up and down backwards the wishing steps while thinking only of their wishes and not letting any other thoughts drift in. In exchange, the Blarney guardians provide her firewood for this very kitchen so she can continue her spell craft and crazy brews while staying warm at night for when darkness falls she is magically released from the stone she is trapped within. Some say if you arrive early enough you can still see the dying embers of the fire as she lights a fire every night. Many believe that it was the Blarney Witch who really told McCarthy about the power of the Blarney Stone while others claim it was her who enchanted the stone as a “thank you” to McCarthy for saving her from drowning in the river. No one seems to know how she was entrapped into her rock. The Echoe Ghost Hunters investigated this area in 2010-2011 and claimed very strong EMP’s were recorded in the area of the Witches’ Kitchen. Most of the lore in this area is centered around the Witch of Blarney.

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The Witches Stone

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The Wishing Steps of Rock Close

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Wishing Steps

Wishing Steps
* The Rock Close * Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland * http://www.blarneycastle.ie *

Onwards with the quest for charms and blessings, just after kissing the legendary Blarney Stone for the gift of gab we wandered into The Rock Close of Blarney Castle. It was time to visit the wiley old witch of Blarney for a endowment of wishes. The witch requires the wisher to walk backwards up and down the steps with their eyes closed without stopping for a moment or thinking of anything other than the wish – then that wish will come true within a year. Of course I did it, and those who know me can only guess what my wish was … The roughly hewn 21-24 limestone steps climb up through an archway of limestone rocks. The steps can be wet and very slippery. Legend states that the witch was forced to do these blessings on the steps as a way for her to pack for her firewood she uses in the Witches kitchen located at the top of the steps. It is believed that if you go up the stairs early in the morning you will see dying embers in the fire pit of the Witches’ Kitchen and Stone which is supposedly lit every night by the Blarney Castle Witch.

The witch supposedly grants the wish within a year’s time. Others say a “year and a day”. My wish came true in precisely a year and 2 months. On June 28, 2010 I wished to be united with my soul mate and twin flame that previous prophecies said I’d meet. I also always had dreams as a child I’d marry an Irish woman. A year later in 2011 I was supposed to go to Ireland but while in Scotland ran out of money and called to tell my Irish friends I wasn’t able to come for a visit. They asked if I was going to Burning Man to which I replied, “I couldn’t afford it”. They had a position open for me as staff in helping build the Celtic dragon effigy for Ireland at Burning Man, so I went. I had a theme camp set up called “Tir na nOg” and was a base camp for the Irish crew. The night of the Effigy burn, I was a fire guardian and while watching the perimeter, had a friend from Colorado come fire spin for the event and she needed a safety person – unable to assist as I was already tied up with the boundary, I looked around the audience and saw a woman dressed like a leprechaun who was sober – I asked her to assist and she did. Afterwards I invited her back to our Tir na nOg camp, fed her fairy food and drink, and we fell in love. It turned out she was from Ireland, via the Pacific Northwest after working a summer on Vancouver Island, and lived in Cork – a stone’s throw from the Blarney Witch. She was looking for other Irish to hang out with. I moved to Dublin with her, two months later at the Stone of Destiny was inspired to propose to her, and we soon after married and gave birth to a beautiful son. So every year we return to the Blarney Witch to thank her for playing cupid. In our experience, we believe the wishing steps work.

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The Blarney Badger Cave

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Badger Cave
* Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland * http://www.blarneycastle.ie *

A feature of the Blarney Castle are the caves below the fortress called “Badger Cave”. This was the escape route used by the garrison when Cromwell’s general Lord Broghill besieged the castle and fired down from Card Hill above the lake and broke through the tower walls. He found only two trusty old retainers and the garrison gone. He was hoping to find the fabled golden plate but appeared that it was taken through the caves to escape his capture. Some say the plate was sunk in the lake. There are believed to be three passages in these caves – one that leads to Cork, another to the lake, and another to Kerry. However, no one seems to be able to find these legendary passages ….

In order to provide public access to one of the passageways in the cave archaeologists had to evaluate the passage before tourist entry. The 2007 Excavation report of Badger Cave, Site 07E0672 / CO062-177 / 16080 07531 report concluded that this main 35 meter long passage interlinked with two short connecting fissures (7 meters long and 13 meters long respectively) extending from its south-eastern wall. This main passage was excavated with a trench 23 metes long by 1 meter wide by .8 meter deep with 50% of excavated deposits wet-sieved. Within the findings were over 340 naturally occurring recent animal bones and a proximal end of a flint flake that potentially dated to the Neolithic.

There are some myths and legends about paranormal activity in the caves, castle, and grounds. The Echo Ghost hunters investigated the site from 2010-2011 and captured an image of a man in the 3rd floor window of the castle (no stairs or access to that window) and recorded strange Kll hits in the caves.

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Legend of the Blarney Stone

Legend of the Blarney Stone
Blarney Castle, Blarney, Co. Cork, Ireland * Phone: 00 353 21 4385252 * http://www.blarneycastle.ie/
One of Ireland’s most valuable and mesmerizing mythical collections is the infamous Blarney Stone. Called “Cloch na Blarnan” in Irish, it is the legendary stone for the gift of gab. “Blarney” means “Clever, Flattering, or coaxing talk”. The Blarney Stone is a block of bluestone that is built within the battlements of Blarney Castle, located approximately 8 kilometers from Cork, Ireland. It is believed that whoever kisses the stone is endowed with the gift of gab, great eloquence, or the skill at flattery. It allows the gifted to impart the ability to deceive without offending. Its not an easy task to kiss the stone, as one needs to be held upside down atop a drop of a tall tower to reach the kissing spot. The stone became part of the tower in 1446 and has become one of Ireland’s most notable tourist sites.

Where does the stone come from? There are many myths and legends surrounding the stone and its origins, the earliest of which involves the Goddess Clíodhna. It is believed that the Castle’s builder, Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, was in a lawsuit and sought out Clíodhna for her assistance. She told him to kiss the first stone he found in the morning on his way to court, and as he did, he gained eloquence and won the court case. Flabbergasted by this magical event he took the stone and added to the castle’s stones. The history of the land and place stretches back over two centuries before the current castle’s construction. There are remains of prehistoric sites and Druid ceremonial remains. No one knows for sure when the Blarney Stone came to the grounds, but it was believed to have arrived sometime around 1602 C.E. Many believe that it was a piece of the Stone of Scone. Others believe it to be the rock that Moses struck with his staff to produce water for the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt. Others believe it to be the stone that Jacob used as a pillow and was later brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah. It is said that it then became the Lia Fail, or ‘Fatal Stone’ and was used as an oracular throne of the Irish kings. Some say its the Stone of Ezel which David hid behind on Jonathan’s advice while fleeing King Saul and brought to Ireland during the Crusades. Others believe it to be the rock pillow used by St. Columba of Iona on his death bead or his portable altar he took with him while doing missionary work in Scotland. Some believe that the stone was first presented to Cormac McCarthy by Robert the Bruce in 1314 to recognize his support in the Battle of Bannockburn. Lore dictates that the stone was previously in Ireland then taken to Scotland and brought back to Ireland in 1314. It is also said that during the time of Queen Elizabeth I, Dermot McCarthy, had been required to surrender his fortress to the Queen as proof of his loyalty. He told her he would be delighted to do so, but something always happened at the last moment to prevent his surrender such as throwing a dinner party or event for the officers charged in the takeover. Many believe this was the charm of the Blarney Stone in effect. The Queen replied to this as “Odds bodikins, more Blarney talk!”

Kissing the Stone has been performed by literally ‘millions of people’ in the world, including world statesmen, literary giants, and legends of the silver screen. Kissing the stone is kissing all of these people by proxy, and by the magical law of contact – gaining the gift of gab that all these people possess. Its not an easy kiss and its important for the lips to touch the bluestone. This quest involves ascending to the castle’s peak, leaning over backwards on the parapet’s edge, entrusting a stranger (Castle guard) with your life by holding on to you. Today, safety wrought-iron guide rails and protective crossbars help prevent death or serious injury. Prior to these installations, the kisser was in danger of serious life risk as they were grasped by their ankles and dangled from the plummet. According to the Sherlock Holmes radio dramatization in “The Adventure of the Blarney Stone” (March 18, 1946) reported a man attempting the kiss plummeting to his death – but determined to be a murder as his boots had been greased before the attempt. The cautious and germ phoebic consider the Blarney Stone to be the most unhygienic tourist attraction in the world, as ranked as such by Tripadvisor.com in 2009. It is documented that more than 300,000 visitors come to kiss the stone every year. When I attended in 2010, I watched the guards use antiseptic wipes after every kiss and had hand sanitizer on the spot. Urban legends are amiss that claim locals go up to the Blarney stone at night and piss on it. Of course, anyone who has ever been to the Blarney stone, knowing the tight and tiny ascension up the treacherous tower (that is locked after hours and guarded) that even with breaching security and risking royal criminal punishment, would have to be damn good aim to hit the Blarney stone. Much of the urban legend comes from the incident in the film “Fight Club” where the narrator urinates on the Blarney Stone during his visit to Ireland as his first act of vandalism.

    ‘Tis there’s the stone that whoever kisses
    He never misses to grow eloquent;
    ‘Tis he may clamber to a lady’s chamber, Or become a member of Parliament.
    “A noble spouter he’ll sure turn out, or An out and outer to be let alone;
    Don’t try to hinder him, or to bewilder him, For he is a pilgrim from the Blarney stone.”

In 1825 Sir Walter Scott came to kiss the blarney stone. Father Prout in 1837 spread word of the wonders of the Blarney Stone making it even more of an attraction amongst the nobility and curious. In 1883 the future President William H. Taft of the United States came to kiss the Blarney Stone. By 1887 the new railway into Blarney afforded many travelers the opportunity to kiss the stone, including boxing legend John L Sullivan, at that time the reigning heavyweight champion of the world. In 1912 Winston Churchill came to kiss the stone. In 1984 Ronald Reagan claimed to have kissed the stone.

Many nation’s around the world have attempted to obtain the Blarney Stone. There are quite a few imposters out and about. The one and true stone is in the Blarney Castle.In 1893 during the World’s Fair in Chicago the Blarney Castle and stone was mimicked with the promoters billing that it was the real stone people were kissing, this of course was false. According to a tradition at Texas Tech University, a stone fragment on display since 1939 outside the old Electrical Engineering Building claims to be a missing piece of the Blarney Stone. In 1938 American businessmen offered the Colthurst family a million dollars to allow the stone to go on tour in the U.S. but the offer was rejected.

The Blarney Stone is just the “icing of the cake” when it comes to the magic and myths of Blarney Castle. Even the grounds in its gardens have their attractions and history, as small caves and structures in the Rock Close garden may have neolithic habitation possibilities, and potentially the home to a mythical witch that was trapped in a rock. The Blarney Witch is said to have servitude to the Castle to grant wishes for those walking up and down the Wishing Steps backwards with their eyes closed focusing on only their wish. The Close also has a Dolmen, Fairy Circle, as well as a Druid’s cave and ceremonial circle. The Martin River that runs through the estate is believed to be possessed by ghosts of salmons leaping for ghosts of flies. Enchanted cows walk from the depths of the lake to graze on the meadows below the castle. There is also a glade where Faeries are believed to be at play.

One can kiss the stone from Monday thru Saturday, 9 am to 6:30 pm in September and May, 9 am to 7 pm from June through August, and 9 am to sundown from October to April. On Sundays, kissing can commence from 9 am to 5:30 pm during the summer, and 9 am to sundown during the winter.

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Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden
* http://www.kylemoreabbey.com/ * Kylemore, Ireland
“Mainistir na Coille Móire” is one of Connemara’s famous attractions, the Kylemore Abbey with its Victorian Walled Garden is a highlight of history in the area. Nestled in an area of old oakwoods which terrace the mountainside, within the mountainous valley of Kylemore Pass with woodlands and a lake, sits the Abbey as a home to the Benedictine nuns since the 1920’s. The Abbey was built in 1868 by Mitchell Henry in memory of his late wife Margaret in a neo-gothic style as a castle by architects James Franklin Fuller and Ussher Roberts with the aid of 100 men a day. Margaret died of dysentry that she caught while on an expedition to Egypt. The castle took 4 years to complete. It covers over 40,000 square feet with over 70 rooms. There were 33 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 4 sitting rooms, a ballroom, a billard room, a library, study, school room, smoking room, gun room, and various offices and domestic staff residences for the butler, cook, housekeeper, and other servants. Mitchell Henry was a wealthy politician from Manchester, England who was also the MP for Galway Country from 1871-1885. A Gothic Church built by Mitchell Henry and designed by Architect James Franklin Fuller was constructed as a miniature cathedral on the estate. The house was purchased by the Benedictine nuns in 1920 after fleeing from their convent in war-torn Belgium in 1914. They replicated here the same boarding school they were running in Belgium for over 300 years, still schooling to this day. It became one of the oldest of the Irish Benedictine Abbeys. The community of nuns who have resided here for 189 years. The south transept has beautiful stained glass tracery windows depicting Fortitude, Faith, Charity, Hope, and Chastity. In front of the altar was a trap door through which coffins were lowered to the vaults below. Due to erosion, the church began to decay. The nuns began restorations in 1991. A mile west of the main Abbey is the 6 acre Victorian Walled Gardens that Mitchell built during the construction of the Castle. This garden was one of the last walled gardens built during the Victorian period in Ireland and the only garden in Ireland that is built in the middle of a bog. The gardens are maintained with 21 huge glasshouses that were originally built to house exotic fruits and plants that were heated by three boilers, one of which doubled as a limekiln.
The Gardens fell into disrepair through the years until the Nuns found grants to repair them. The Gardens were re-opened in 1999. The Garden houses only plants and vegetables that grew in the Victorian era. In the back of the gardens is a tea room providing refreshments for the guests.

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Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle
* A2 Coast Road Portrush * BT57 8SX * County Antrim, Northern Ireland * Tel: 44-28-7082-3333 *

Dunluce a.k.a. Dun Lios, means “Strong Fort” in Irish. One of Ireland’s infamous settings for fantasy tales, movies, or depictions – Dunluce ruins contrast with awe-inspiring grandeur with the precipitous basaltic rock it stands upon over the Northern Sea. It is separated from the mainland by a deep chasm that is crossed by means of a narrow bridge and beneath the castle is a long cave that served great strategic importance as an escape to the Sea. It is believed that the nomadic boatmen who first inhabited this area in 7,000 B.C.E. must have seen this crag from which the castle now sits and may have ventured into the cavern beneath it back in the day. It is believed that early Christians and Vikings were attracted to this Crag and had an earlier Irish fort placed here before Dunluce was constructed. With the Normans arrival, it is believed, that this Crag was first crowned with a castle. There are legends of inhabitation of this area by giants, ghosts, and banshees as well. Believed to have been used as a fort during Early Christianity in the area by evidence of the souterrain that survives beneath the current ruins. The Castle is mentioned as part of the de Burgo manor of Dunseverick in the early 14th century. Richard de Burgh, the Earl of Ulster, was the first to build this castle on the Crag. It was a common place to fall under siege as many desired it. First in the hands of the MacQuillin family in 1513 when the two large drum towers were believed to have been built. The Castle then became the home of the Clan MacDonnell of Antrim and the Clan MacDonald of Dunnyveg from Scotland. Most of the ruin remains that are left standing were built by Sorley Boy McDonnell (1505-1589) and his family, the 1st and 2nd Earls of Antrim – who seized the castle in 1558 after the death of his brother Colla who married the daughter of the McQuillan chief in 1544 even though he had been evicted from the Manor twice before (1565 and 1584). He took back the castle by force with artillery in 1584 and hauled his comrades up the cliff in a basket. He was officially appointed Constable of Dunluce by the Queen in 1586. Damages done by the 1584 siege. In 1588 when the Spanish Armada treasure ship – The Girona – wrecked off the Giant’s Causeway in a storm – the treasures were salvaged by Sorley Boy who utilized the prizes to rebuild and repair the castle. Repairs were so extensive they lasted past Sorley Boy’s death in 1589 with additions such as the turreted gatehouse in Scottish manner, cannon ports in the curtain wall where eventually the Girona’s cannons were placed (from the Spanish Armada ship 1588). Somewhere around the 1560’s the north-facing Italianate loggia behind the south curtain was added. In 1613 Mac Donnell’s granddaughter Rose was born in the Castle. In 1639 a terrible tragedy befell the castle when the lower yard, the kitchen, and most of the staff saw a collapse into the sea. The Castle owner’s wife apparently after that point refused to live in the Castle any longer. The mainland court was believed to be built by Lady Catherine to replace the lower yard after parts of it fell into the sea. After Royalist second Earl was arrested at Dunluce in 1642, the family ceased to reside at Dunluce Castle, after which it fell into decay until 1928 when it was transferred to the State for preservation. Dunluce Castle served as the seat of the Earl of Antrim until the impoverishment of the MacDonnells in 1690 following the Battle of the Boyne. In 1973 the castle appeared on the inner gate fold of the Led Zeppelin album “Houses of the Holy”. It was referenced in the comedy “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” when they travel back into time to meet Socrates. In 2001, the castle appeared in Jackie Chan’s “The Medallion” as the villain’s lair. It is now in care of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and a Monument in State Care.
The Cave beneath has been called the “Mermaid’s Cave” above it is the “wishing well” (down and up the path). Castle is open year round from at least 10 am until 5 pm with later hours in the summer.

The castle is believed to be haunted by many spirits. Some say former servants roam the halls (those who died during a severe winter storm in 1639 when part of the castle fell into the sea), others say that one of the MacQuillan’s daughters can be seen on occasion (she tried to elope to Peter Carey, complete with black coat and purple scarf, when he was hung by Sorley Boy MacDonnell (the local chieftain)), while others report seeing an apparition of an English constable. Inland, below the castle, is the Royal Protrush Golf Club’s main course (known to have hosted the only British Open golf championship (outside of Britain and Scotland)) called “Dunluce links” is said to be frequented by fairway fanatics involving the battles between the Vikings and local Irish tribes during the 12th century. The sandhills on the East Strand Portrush were called the “War Hollow” because it was the location where ambushes of Norsemen returning with plunder after capturing Dunluce Castle took place, and Magus, the King of Norway, was beheaded there and the treasures supposedly still buried down below. (myths as told by http://www.causewaycoastandglens.com/portals/2/itineraries/ccritinerary-myths.pdf)

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Dunseverick Castle

Dunseverick Castle
* Along the Giant’s Causeway / Coastal Causeway Route, Northern Ireland *

Near the Giant’s Causeway, on an isolated rock surrounded by the sea in a small bay, is the crumbling remains of “Dunseverick Castle”. A maritime fortress of Dalriada, built by Sovaric, son of Eberic mythically in the year of the world 3668 a.m. once off the royal road from Tara, and once of the seats of the Kings of Ireland. It was stormed in 870 C.E. and then plundered again by Mave, the QUeen of Connaught at a uncertain date, starting a bloody war between Ulster and Connaught. When the castle was in the hands of Kinel Owen, in the 12th century, another disaster struck. When Turlough of Dunseverick returned from the Crusades, the castle was ransacked and massacred by Norwegian ships sparing only Lady O’Cahan, sister of Turlough. This beautiful young girl with dark hair and blue eyes, won the heart of the Norsemen, sparing her, and wedding him until the Norseman was slain by Turlough. The melee between the Norseman and Turlough caused the castle to catch fire, and the bride to plunge to her death off the cliffs resulting in the castle falling into ruins.

    “And the villagers of olden times oft heard the wailing cry
    Of the Norseman and brave young Turlough when waves were running high,
    And old Dunseveric, gaunt and bare, has no sadder tale of woe
    Recorded in its annals of the years of long ago.”

The castle was later made the family residence of the O’Cahan family who were branched from the Kinel Owens, from about 1000 C.E. until 1320, regained again by the family in the mid 16th century. Was in the family hands until the 1641 rebellion when chief Gilladuff O’Cahan was taken by General Munro and hanged at Carrickfergus years after the rebellion. Munro destroyed all the castles in the area along the coast except Dunluce where he garrisoned English soldiers for the Cromwellian army. By 1662 most of Dunseverick was demolished except a piece of wall at the entrance six feet thick which his men were unable to remove. On the north side of the castle, is a well about three yards from the edge of he cliff, over 100′ above the sea, that legendarily “Never goes dry”. It is named the “Tubber Phadrick” or “St. Patrick’s Well” and was considered one of Ireland’s holiest wells as St. Patrick visited Dunseverick on several of his travels through the North. St. Patrick used to sit on a stone located by the well, named “St. Patrick’s Rock”, but this stone was tumbled into the well by General Munro’s soldiers. Last to own and reside in the castle was Giolla Dubh O Cathain who left it in 1657. Now in ruins, only a small residential tower survived until 1978 until taken by the sea. Now just ruins of the walls remain. The castle is located in County Antrim near the small village of Dunseverick and about a mile and a half from the Giant’s Causeway. Now part of the National Trust (1962) as passed on by local farmer Jack McCurdy.

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Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle
* 2 Palace St * DUBLIN 2, Ireland * 01 6777129
The Dublin Castle is located off Dame Street in Dublin. The Castle was origimally a defensive fortification for the Norman city of Dublin and took on a long history by various successions of Dublin through time. It was founded by King John of England in 1204 after the Norman invasion in 1169 when it was commanded as a castle to be built as a fortification for the city. It was under the Lordship of Ireland from 1171-1541 C.E., the Kingdom of Ireland from 1541-1800 C.E., the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1800-1922 C.E. and now the Irish Free State from 1922 to the present. Up until 1922 it was the fortified seat of British rule in Ireland. It is now a governmental complex for Ireland. Most of the architecture and rooms of the Dublin Castle date to the 18th century, although it is the site of continuous castles since the first constructed by the first Lord of Ireland, King John. The Castle served as the nerve center of the British effort against Irish separatism. On Bloody Sundy in 1920, two IRA officers and a friend, Conor Clune, were killed while trying to escape from the Castle.

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Chun Castle

Chûn Castle
Near Pendeen, Cornwall, England

The Chûn Castle is an Iron Age hillfort on the summit of Chûn Downs holding a stronghold with secure views of the north and northwest, onwards to the Atlantic Coast and south towards Mounts Bay. it is roughly 84 meters in diameter with stone walls up to 2.7 meters high and is formed of two concentric rings of granite. There are stone gateposts flanking the entrance. To the west is a chocked well with steps descending down into the water. Pottery found on site suggests the main period of operation was from 3rd century BCE until 1st century CE, with possible re-occupation in 5th-6th century CE. Other evidence shows it was built around 2500 years ago. The fort is circular with two very impressive stone walls and an external ditch. In the interior of the circle fortifications are the remains of several stone walled round houses, of course in ruins, by later activity. One of these is an oval shaped roundhouse that is believed to be post-Roman occupation. The only entrance is a stone-lined passage through the large inner ramparat on the west side with an offset opening through the outer rampart, which is believed to have held a defensive function. A furnace was discovered on the northern edge containing tin and iron indicating that mineral processing was carried out here in the Iron Age. The entrance was set in line with the inner one and the entranceway aligned 250 meters towards the Neolithic chamber tomb known as Chun Quoit which was present long before the stronghold was created. Nearby to the east is the Romano-British courtyard house village of Bosullow Trehyllys which may have been contemporary with the fort. Chun Castle was probably utilized to protect the mining resources and the prehistoric trackway known as Old St. Ives Road.

Chun Quoit
is a neolithic standing structure which also serves as a bronze age burial mound. The dolmen burial chamber stands on bleak atmospheric moorland slopes about a mile from the sea by Great Bosullow. It consists of a huge capstone (3.3 x 3 meters) with a cupmark standing at about 2 meters height and supported by four standing stones to create a closed chamber. The only access to the interior of the grave is through a hole in the lower right side of the South by southeastern base slab. This monument was probably covered by an earth mound.

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Lesigney Round

Lesigney Round
Farmer’s Field near Castle Hornbeck, Penzance, Cornwall, England
Map Ref: SW454304 Landranger Map Number: 203; Latitude: 50.118951N Longitude: 5.56298W

From the distance this appears as a round of trees in the middle of a field on the top of a hill roughly a mile west of the town of Penzance. Once entering this ’round’ one can find a stone and earthen-mounded defensive wall/boundary nestled around where the trees were planted creating a unique defensive position. The term “Lesingey Round” means “hedged stronghold”. It is 1.5 acre circular enclosure formed by a broad and high annular mound of earth. Natural slopes within the round are not very steep. Good views of the countryside and surrounding area can be spied from the round. A field wall has been erected around the outer perimeter of the ditch and the whole of the area enclosed is densely wooded. There is historical debate that this is the actual historic “Castle Horneck” which is the current label of a Georgian styled Manor a couple of fields away utilized as a Hostelling International Youth Hostel. Another name for this round is “Timber Castle” or “Lesigney Round”. These are the earthwork remains of an Iron Age hillfort that was probably re-occupied during the medieval period. The rampart stands 12-15 feet high from the bottom of the circular ditch that forms the round. Some scholars believe this to be the site of the C12 castle report and place name now utilized by Castle Horneck approximately 400 meters west of the site. These timber castles are quite common along the Cornish countryside. They are of the motte and bailey or ringwork forms where that formulated the vast majority of castles in the early conquest period and during the Marches of the 11th-12th century as well as placed in the Anarchy during the reign of Stephen. During medieval times, these were short-lived even though some of the castles survived for centuries with timber buildings and defenses being replaced occasionally via timber or masonry. The site is yet unprotected as of this writing but is scheduled for protection by law in the near future.


View of Lesigney Round

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Castle Horneck, Penzance, Cornwall, England

Castle Horneck
* Alverton * Penzance * Cornwall, England * TR20 8TF * 0845 371 9653 * Fax no: (+44) 1736 362663 * penzance@yha.org.uk * http://www.yha.org.uk/find-accommodation/south-west-england/hostels/Penzance/index.aspx *
It was a definitely an enchanting treat to make my way up to the remote location of this castle on the outskirts of Penzance. The remote-factor gave it a charm even though it wasn’t very convenient for running in and out of Penzance. As a bonus, I was quite looking forward to perhaps some supernatural occurences for my two night stay in this reputedly haunted castle. However, outside of waking up in the middle of the night and thinking I felt something – there was no paranormal experiences during my stay. As I tromped up the path to the Castle, and after about a mile hike from the nearest bus stop – exhausted – i was a bit disappointed upon my 1:30 pm arrival that registration didn’t open until 4 pm. Luckily I was able to run into a staff member who allowed me to put my heavy bags under lock n’ key as I wandered back down into Penzance in search of a bank to convert some money. Castle Horneck is also known as Castle Hornocke or the “Iron Castle”. There is some debate if this is the actual ancient castle that is referred to in Penzance’s historic records (most likely the Iron Age Lesigney Round nearby) … but it is the actual Castle built by the Tyes family in the 12th century adapted and re-used as a Hostelling International Youth Hostel. While there are no remains existing on site that can prove this is the actual site of the medieval fortification or palace, it is presumed as such. The Castle is currently located approximately a 1/4 mile outside of Penzance’s boundary. The reputed medieval fortification was well noted in historic lore to be a stronghold that was built by the Tyess famil who were the lords of the distric early in the times of the Plantagenets and whose title as Baron Tyes became extinct in 1322. Writers describe ‘Castle Horneck’ to be a “auntient ruyned castle standinge on a mounte nere Pensans, and as it seemeth in former times of some accompte.” (Spreadbury) Some historians claim the original name for the Lesigney Round was Castle Horneck. In 1696 the field name for Lesigney was ‘Castle Close’ and ‘Castle Horneck’ was the name given for the farm and house 400 meters east of the Round that is location of the Hostelling International hostel. The Castle is reputedly haunted according to ghosthunting.org.uk – who sometimes does special haunting trips to the hostel. The castle is now managed by Hostelling International. As a hostel, it is a beautiful Georgian house with large gardens and woodlands to explore, hiking trails to experience, and camping space outside of the hostel. It is located next door to a local winery. It is open all year. The hostel has 103 beds available plus an unstated number of tent camping spots. Family/private rooms are available as well. The hostel has a community lounge, tv room, library, and garden. There is also laundry, self-catering kitchen, food-for-purchase bar and cafe, meal plans, bbq areas, a dining room, table licence, liquor license, internet access with some internet stations, luggage storage behind the desk, showers, toilets, and they accept credit cards. The hostelling staff is extremely friendly and helpful, warm and welcoming, and a wealth of local lore knowledge when asked. the hostel was clean, safe, and quiet – even with the hordes of summer camp kids staying the same weekend I was. Rating: 5 stars out of 5. I will definitely be back to this one again! Kudos’ and thank you! Especially for the hiking map so I could hike from coast to coast!

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Fortress Marienberg (Wurzburg, Germany)


Castle Marionburg, Germany

Fortress Marienberg / Castle Marionburg
http://www.schloesser.bayern.de/englisch/palace/objects/wu_fest.htm
* Festung Marienberg * Nr. 239 * 97082 Würzburg * Telephone (09 31) 3 55 17-50 *
Festung Marienberg is a humongous fortress along the Main river in Wurzburg, Germany. A fort since ancient times, it is one of the most prominent landmarks along the Main. Originally a Celtic settlement and shelter, the Marienkirche was built in 704 AD and by the 13th century was surrounded by its first fortifications. By 1492 the main castle was encircled by a medieval ring wall with the Scherenberg gate. In May of 1525 the Peasant’s War attempted unsuccessfully to sieze the castle – with 15,000 men failing. Their leader Florian Geyer went to Rothenburg ob der Tauber in early June to procure the heavy guns needed to breach these walls while the leaderless peasant army camped around the castle and thereby outflaked by the bishop’s professional army. More than 8,000 were slaughtered or blinded. In 1600 Julius Echter rebuilt the fortress into a Renaissance palace. Continue reading Fortress Marienberg (Wurzburg, Germany)

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Wurzburg, Germany


Entering Wurzburg

Wurzburg, Germany
Wurzburg is a Franconia city in the northern tip of Bavaria, Germany. It is located on the Main River approximately 120 kms from Frankfurt and Nuremberg by road and it is a center for culture, exports, trade, and commerce. It is the capital of the Regierungsbezirk Unterfranken. It is a German speaking city with the regional dialect as Franconian. The city itself is not included in the district of Wurzburg but is its administrative seat and holds a population of roughly 131,320 (2006 census). Wurzburg started as a Celtic fortification in 1000 BC where the Castle Marienberg now stands. As it was Christianized in 686 by Kilian, Colman, and Totnan; a group of Irish missionaries wanting to convert the area. First called Vurteburch in 704, the first diocese was founded by Saint Boniface in 742 who appointed Saint Burkhard as the first bishop of Wurzburg. The bishops created a duchy in the center of the city which extended throughout the 12th century to Eastern Franconia. Wurzburg became the seat of several Imperial diets, including the one of 1180, in which Henry the Lion was banned from the Empire and his duchy was handed over to Otto of Wittelsbach. [wikipedia] In 788, the first church was built and became the present Würzburg Cathedral and was later consecrated that same year by Charlemagne. It was converted to Romanesque style from 1040 to 1225. Wurzburg is also home to the infamous University: The University of Würzburg, which was founded in 1402 and re-founded in 1582.

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Lady of the Rhine, Sect 2: Chapter 12, Part B (4/6) – Wurzburg and Castle Marionburg, Return to Dusseldorf

Part B


View of Castle Marionburg from the bridge in Wurzburg

Monday, 6 April 2009
Wurzburg, Germany

The adventurers made it to Wurzburg. Wandering around the streets and exploring the artistic architecture, statues, and sights. The adventurers were in awe of what a beautiful city Wurzburg is. Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Vanssa, and Princess Brea crossed the bridge with all the statues to see how far a walk it would be to make it to the Castle on foot. Deciding against it, they opted for a scenic walk along the waterfront and over to the Tourist Information center. Soon thereafter, Lord Christian picked the group up in his motor-carriage and drove them up to the Castle. There they explored the still used interiors, walls, towers, and well. A key was held in the hand of a Saint and the other who may have held one, was missing the arm that would of held the missing key. Could this be the heavily sought after “Key?” to “Life”? Was the key in the hands of this other statue and cut off by someone who wanted “the sacred key of life”? Bedazzled and confused, the adventurers continued on as Sir Thomas Leaf believed a mighty Troll may have taken the Key to Belgium. Omens and prophecies said the key would be there. Being a reknown diviner – faith was planted to follow his intuition. After the castle, it was a couple hour drive to Dusseldorf. The party dropped by Sir Ingo the Great’s for some tea and cake, then Lady Vanessa lured Princess Breanna and Sir Thomas Leaf off for some Lebanese fast food. That evening they took it easy and settled down to a movie satisfied with their adventure.

 
The statues at Castle Marionburg, one holding a key, the other perhaps had the missing key

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Veste Lichtenau (Castle Lichtenau)

Veste Lichtenau (Castle Lichtenau)
Staatsarchiv Nürnberg * Von-Heydeck-Strasse 3 * 91586 Lichtenau * Tel. 09827/92790
Along the Castle road, down in Bavaria, lies an impressive fortress that now holds the state archives of Nurnberg. This is “Veste Lichtenau”. Massive walls with formidable towers, this fortress served as the model for the Nuremberg Castle and reminds us that times were not peaceful in this area of old. This fortress existed between 1406-1806 (four hundred years of operation) protecting the small market towns that were owned by the free imperial city of Nuremberg. Afterwards, it held the cities history to this day. The feuds between the margraves of Ansbach and the Town Council of the free imperial city of Nuremberg were abundant, and eventually destroyed this fortress and market in 1229 and 1552. Afterwards it was rebuilt. The complex was built from 1558 to 1630 and was not substantially changed in the following years and the moat and enclosing walls are prominent and well preserved to this day. The bastions project outwards and are located at the corners of the polygon: the bear, the stag, the virgin battery, the dragon battery and the bell battery. A branch office of the State Archive of Nuremberg has been housed in Lichtenau Fortress for over 20 years. Because of this, it is only possible to view the castle complex by prior arrangement with the State Archive of Nuremberg, branch office Lichtenau. The exterior of the castle is fully accessible during the day. The “Castle Festival” takes place on the first weekend in July each year.


Veste Lichtenau, Germany

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Lichtenau, Germany


Lichtenau, Germany

Lichtenau, Bavaria, Germany
A small village/town of roughly 3,780 population just off the infamous “Castle Road” theme route of Southern Germany. Its a small market town in the district of Ansbach, Mittelfranken, Bavaria, Germany. 390 meters above Sea Level with an Area of 41.39 km² (16 sq mi). Very traditional little town, it is also home to the “Veste Lichtenau” (castle) which now houses the Nuremberg Archives.
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Lady of the Rhine, Sect 2: Chapter 11, Part B (4/5) – ‘Palmbosch’n’, Lichtenau and Castles

Part B

Sunday, 5 April 2009
Nürnberg, Germany

The adventurers had a chance to sleep in a little bit … up and out by 11:00 am. The crew met with the gamer group out on the back patio and it was decided that before parting ways, breakfast at a local cafe waa in order. Packing up their luggage and a short drive into town, hanging out at a cafe for chocolate croissants and breakfast goodies. After social calls, the parties went their separate ways … Sir Thomas Leaf, Sir Christian, Lady Vanessa of the Rhine, and Princess Brea headed off to Christian’s hometown of Ansbach. It was a few hour drive … but allowed for a quick road stop at a Castle along the way. Sir Thomas Leaf and Lady Vanessa took a walk around the castle to bask in its glory. No signs of keys, though. Home of the Nuremberg Archives.

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