Said to be Most Beautiful Castle in Ireland
When in Kilkenny, the must see attraction is the Kilkenny Castle.
The castle was built in 1195 to control a fording-point of the River Nore and the junction of several route-ways. It was a symbol of Norman occupation and in its original thirteenth-century condition it would have formed an important element of the defenses of the town with four large circular corner towers and a massive ditch, part of which can still be seen today. Few buildings in Ireland can boast a longer history of continuous occupation than Kilkenny Castle.
Founded soon after the Norman conquest of Ireland, the Castle had been rebuilt, extended and adapted to suit changing circumstances and uses over a period of 800 years. The castle’s website (kilkennycastle.ie) provided an artist’s impression of what the medieval castle would look like. As time went by, the castle eventually deteriorated to ruin and abandoned. The property with its ruins was transferred to the people of Kilkenny in 1967 for only about £50.
The Lord Ormonde sold the abandoned castle to the Castle Restoration Committee for a ceremonial £50, with the statement: “The people of Kilkenny, as well as myself and my family, feel a great pride in the Castle, and we have not liked to see this deterioration. We determined that it should not be allowed to fall into ruins. There are already too many ruins in Ireland.” He also bought the land in front of the castle from the trustees “in order that it should never be built on and the castle would be seen in all its dignity and splendour”.
Today, Kilkenny Castle is open to the public all year round and is largely a Victorian remodeling of the thirteenth century defensive Castle. Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors come to see this grand country house and walk through its fifty acres of rolling parkland with mature trees and an abundance of wildlife. Other features include a formal terraced rose garden, woodlands and a man-made lake, which were added in the nineteenth century. There is also a tearoom, playground and several orienteering trails for visitors to enjoy.
There are ornamental gardens on the city side of the castle, and extensive land and gardens to the front. It has become one of the most visited tourist sites in Ireland. Part of the National Art Gallery is on display in the castle.
Located on the north-west side of the castle is a formal garden with axial paths radiating from a central fountain retains much of the basic form that could have been there during the ducal period. The existing fountain is probably the base of an original seventeenth-century water feature. Two lead statues stand on pedestals near the castle: one is of Hermes after the original in the Vatican Collection, and the other is of Diana the Huntress. All of the garden features, including the terracing, have been recently restored.
For my sketch subject, I focused mostly on the fountain. The fountain sculpture is that of three mermaids. I decided to frame it and put on the foreground the sculpture and 2 tourists.
The Castle’s Parkland is south of the castle and is made up of fifty acres of rolling parkland with mature trees and an abundance of wildlife. Other features include woodlands and a man-made lake, which were added in the nineteenth century. There is also a tearoom, playground and several orienteering trails for visitors to enjoy.
In this sketch, I mostly drew in people enjoying the park. Like the fountain sketch, I thought it would be cool to frame it and a few folks on the foreground (again).
The Watch Tower
Canal Square is just below the Rose Garden on the banks of the River Nore. My sketch shows a small watch tower (gate lodge) stands guard to a wide public walkway that goes along the river that eventually circumvent the entire castle and parkland property.
In my next post, we’ll finish our time in Kilkenny by exploring the Medieval Mile.
[Contents are mostly from Wikipedia and kilkennycastle.ie]
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