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Limerick's Rich Tapestry: Desmond's Castle in Adare Chronicles Centuries of History |

Limerick’s Rich Tapestry: Desmond’s Castle in Adare Chronicles Centuries of History

Adare, County Limerick, Ireland – Nestled within the demesne of the Earl of Dunraven, Desmond’s Castle stands as a silent witness to the ebb and flow of time, perched on the banks of the meandering River Maigue. Cloaked in ivy, the castle commands attention against the backdrop of a clear blue sky, casting a shadow into the waters that have flowed at its feet through days of glory and desolation alike.

Viewed from afar, the castle presents a picturesque scene, surrounded by ancient woods on its opposite banks, adding an air of mystery and romance. Enclosed by its weathered stone walls, the castle is a relic of the past, accentuated by a small moat adorned with summer water lilies. A quaint bridge spans this moat, leading visitors to the heart of the castle.

As one wanders through the grass-grown paths and alongside walls adorned only by ivy, reflections on the lively gatherings and the brave days of old naturally come to mind. Stone steps, worn by time, lead to the top, offering a panoramic view of meadows, woods, and plains, with the bold outline of Knockfierna on one side and the distant hills of Clare on the other.

The roots of Desmond’s Castle delve deep into history, with evidence suggesting that a pre-Norman Irish rath once occupied the site. The oldest parts of the castle, constructed around 1200, showcase a blend of architectural styles, reflecting the various times it was demolished and rebuilt. In 1512, John Fitz Thomas, the sixth Baron of Offaly and later the first Earl of Kildare, hosted festive celebrations within the castle, attesting to its flourishing state.

However, the Desmond Wars in 1350 left the castle in ruins due to the ravages of war. Yet, in a testament to resilience, it was reconstructed by Sir John Darcy only four years later. A 1531 inquisition revealed the existence of a chapel within the castle, though no traces of it remain today. Further descriptions detailed a structure comprising a hall, a chapel with stone walls and thatched roof, a tower covered with planks, and a kitchen with slate coverings.

The castle underwent various fates, passing to the Crown on the attainder of Silken Thomas, the tenth Earl of Kildare. It was subsequently bestowed upon the Earl of Desmond, a Geraldine, marking the beginning of a fifty-year stewardship by this branch of the family. The Desmond Wars saw the castle change hands multiple times until it was described as an “old broken castle” in 1599. Finally, in 1687, Cromwell ordered its dismantling, closing a chapter in its storied history.

Desmond’s Castle in Adare stands today as a testament to an adventurous and resilient past, mirroring the intricate tapestry of Limerick’s rich history. As visitors explore its corridors and gaze upon its weathered walls, they connect with a heritage that spans centuries, embodying the spirit of a region steeped in lore and tradition.

Weekly Freeman’s Journal – Saturday 19 October 1912

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