The travel time from Glendalough to Roscrea is about 1.75 hours…depending on which way you go! From Roscrea to Bunratty is about the same travel time. We saw the Roscrea Castle while traveling from Doolin to Glendalough, but didn’t have the time to stop. We made it a point to stop in Roscrea on the return trip!
Upon arrival at the Castle, a large tour group going through, so we decided to visit the Damer House first.
Information from inside the Damer House:
The House was built in the 1720s by Joseph Damer, who also owned the Castle complex. The military moved into the House in the 1790s and bought the House along with the Castle in 1858. The military no longer had a use for the House, so it became a school for boys in 1906. For a bit, the House functioned as a long-term care residence for the ill. And then returned to education as a Technical School from 1932 until 1956. Ruin and decay were the future of the House after 1956. The House was voted to be demolished in 1973; however, after efforts to declare the House a National Monument, the House was leased to the Irish Georgian Society. Repairs and restoration began in 1975 and continued until 1988. The House officially opened to the public in 1977.
The tour guide took us and about four elderly ladies through the first floor of the castle. The ladies decided they didn’t want to do all the uneven steps up to the second and third floors, so the tour guide trusted us to go up through the Castle on our own. We were very respectful, but excited to tour the Castle ourselves!
Information taken from the self-guided tour notes we were lent:
Anglo-Normans built the Castle in 1280 and is a sandstone structure with a gate-tower with two D-shaped corner towers. Roscrea was on one of the five great roads of ancient Ireland, so the Normans needed to be able to control this route. The Castle was given to the Butlers of Ormond by King Edward II in 1315. The Castle, in 1892, became a National Monument.
The Great Hall
What you see in the Great Hall is original to the 1300s. In the days of the Normans, the room would have looked similar in furnishings to what you see here.
Off the Great Hall is the Gardenrobe…also known as the toilet and closet. Normans believed the ammonia would kill any moths in their clothes. Herbs were spread on the floor to help with the odor. As an aside, the Normans also believed in sleeping sitting up, as to sleep lying down was too similar to death.
The kitchen was on the top floor of the Castle. With three fireplaces! Was another level lost to time? If not, how did they access the third fireplace?
The circular steps are called “trip steps”. The uneven steps were specifically built this way to confuse the enemy. The steps are in a clockwise direction to further impede the right sword arm of the invaders, but allow free range of the sword arm of the defenders.
And last, a look at the town through an arrow slit.
We arrived at Bunratty Meadows Bed and Breakfast, our accommodations for the next two nights. We did take a walk into town for some food and enjoy the sunset before heading to bed: Bunratty Castle and Folk Park on the morrow!