Only twenty minutes drive from Carlow Town is located a stunning 12th Century Castle. Kilkea Castle is one of the oldest inhabited castles in Ireland. It was a medieval stronghold of the Fitzgeralds, earls of Kildare.
Kilkea village is known for its beautiful landscape and at the centre is Kilkea Castle.
Kilkea Castle’s history dates back to 1180 when it was built by Hugh de Lacy for one of his Norman noblemen, Walter de Riddelsford. Castles were quickly established to maintain control of conquered lands and Hugh de Lacy, Chief Governor of Ireland, built a motte and bailey fort for de Riddlesford at Kilkea in 1180. His granddaughter married Maurice Fitzgerald, and 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. The Earl was sent away to be educated in Europe where he became interested in alchemy. On his return his neighbors believed that he possessed magic powers and gave him the name of the ‘Wizard Earl’. Legend has it that the castle is haunted by the ‘Wizard Earl’ who returns every 7th year riding on a white horse.
The castle and estate was 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. It was closed and put up for sale in 2010. It was bought by an American business-man, 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, the incredible Fitzgerald Suite at the top of Round Tower, or the elegant Lady Elizabeth Suite. Carriage Rooms in the courtyard are modern in style and come with luxury amenities.
Kilkea Castle Hotel and Golf Course sits on 180 acres, and have a variety of accommodations. A wide array of activities including fishing, tennis, horseback riding, falconry and a 18 hole golf course. It make it the perfect spot for a golf outing, fairytale wedding, family reunion or corporate retreat.
Kilkea’s golf course measures 6,100 metres from the championship tee and has been developed to take in the magnificent setting besides the castle and the two lakes in the grounds.
On August 2017 Kilkea Castle opened its door for a visiting turists.
Kilkea Castle is a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide since 2020.
Visit official website: www.kilkeacastle.ie
Location of Kilkea Castle:
Below my photos taken in May 2022.
I visited Kilkea Castle first time in August 2017 – below my photos.