Only twenty minutes drive from Carlow Town is located a stunning 12th Century Kilkea Castle.
It is one of the oldest inhabited castles in Ireland. And, it was a medieval stronghold of the Fitzgeralds, earls of Kildare.
Kilkea village is known for its beautiful landscape and at the center is Kilkea Castle.
Kilkea Castle’s history dates back to 1180 when it was built by Hugh de Lacy.
He bought it for one of his Norman noblemen, Walter de Riddelsford. Castles were quickly established to maintain control of conquered lands. Hugh de Lacy was a Chief Governor of Ireland. Also, he built a motte and bailey fort for de Riddlesford at Kilkea in 1180. Furthermore, his granddaughter married Maurice Fitzgerald. So, the Manor of Kilkea then came into the possession of the powerful Fitzgerald family. It remained in their possession for over 700 years. Until the 19th Earl of Kildare decided to make Carton House the family seat early in the 18th century.
One of the castle’s most unusual inhabitants was Gerald the 11th Earl of Kildare. In fact, the Earl was sent away to be educated in Europe where he became interested in alchemy. Then, on his return, his neighbors believed that he possessed magical powers. So, they gave him the name of the ‘Wizard Earl’. Moreover, legend has it that the castle is haunted by the ‘Wizard Earl’ who returns every 7th year riding on a white horse.
Then, the castle and estate were sold by the Fitzgerald family in the early 1960s. Kilkea Castle was then run as a hotel for decades. But entered Examinership in 2009, as a result of the Irish financial crisis. So, it was closed and put up for sale in 2010. Finally, it was bought by an American businessman, Jay Cashman, and has since reopened as a resort.
Today Kilkea Castle is truly an impressive, majestic 12th-century castle hotel and is family owned and managed.
Kilkea boasts 140 rooms including a deluxe or luxury castle bedroom. What’s more, the incredible Fitzgerald Suite is at the top of Round Tower. Also, the elegant Lady Elizabeth Suite. Carriage Rooms in the courtyard are modern in style and come with luxury amenities too.
Kilkea Castle Hotel and Golf Course sits on 180 acres, and have also a variety of accommodations. A wide array of activities including fishing, tennis, horseback riding, falconry, and an 18-hole golf course. So. it makes it the perfect spot for a golf outing, fairytale wedding, family reunion, or corporate retreat.
Moreover, Kilkea’s golf course measures 6,100 meters from the championship tee. So, it has been developed to take in the magnificent setting beside the castle and the two lakes on the grounds.
Besides, in August 2017 Kilkea Castle opened its door to tourists.
Also, the Castle is a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide since 2020.
Visit the official website: www.kilkeacastle.ie
Below are my photos were taken in May 2022.
I visited Kilkea Castle first time in August 2017 – below my photos.