Posted by: mdmusingsie | August 1, 2016

Rathfarnham Castle

I haven’t been too adventurous in my car yet.  Life tends to get in the way, but on this bank holiday Monday I decided to indulge in my castle hunting obsession and visit Rathfarnham Castle.  It’s not the prettiest castle, by any stretch.  Quite boxy, in my opinion.  It consists of 4 towers, designed for defense, that connect to a main building.

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Adam Loftus, who had the castle built, was Archbishop of Dublin, Lord Chancellor of Ireland and also participated in the establishment of Trinity College.  The castle went in and out of possession of the Loftus family due to gambling debts of one of the heirs (quite a common theme for many castles), ending up with the Blackburnes in the mid 1800’s and was taken over by the Jesuits in 1913 who turned it into a seminary.  They sold it to the Office of Public Works in 1986.

When it was originally built around 1580, the floors in each tower did not meet up with their counterparts, for defense purposes.  In the late 1700’s, when it was remodeled, they leveled everything out so you could walk from one end of each floor to the other end without going up or down any stairs. The semi-circle extension in the back along with a new kitchen wing which is now the tea room was also added during this time.

In its original form there were much smaller windows including musket holes for keeping the enemy at bay.  Smaller, bricked up square windows on the left tower facing he entrance (photo doesn’t show them well) were the original Elizabethan windows which were only about 20″ square.  Evidence shows a grand archway may have been the original entrance on the west side of the building but was replaced by the north entrance seen today.  Part of the renovation included the larger windows.  Looking above the front door, the curved window is flanked by two smaller side windows.  The sidelights are actually fake windows – they don’t go through to the inside of the building.

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The towers aren’t square, which is more noticeable from inside as the walls slope at odd angles.  If you look closely at the entry windows in the right and left towers, you’ll see the windows slope at an angle.

As part of the renovations for the interior, they discovered that at least some of the doors had been relocated and enlarged.  Symmetry was the fashion during the renovation so a door on one side of a room had to have a counterpart on the opposite side.  That led to one ‘blind’ or ‘dumb’ door in the one of the rooms that when opened, only exposes the brick outer wall – it was there merely for symmetry.


To the left of the door you can see a stone archway where the original door would have been


Notice the curved door and the V-like shape of the ceiling


Doorway between dining room and entry hall


Butlers Chair (hood helped keep out the cold)

Renovations are still underway and they don’t have anything above the 1st floor (2nd floor for Americans as they call the 1st floor here the ground floor) available for viewing.  The ballroom and some of the drawing rooms have been restored, but others like the dining room are still under renovation. They are currently working on restoring the bedrooms on the upper levels, as well, so maybe in a year or two there will be more to see.

Of the rooms available for viewing, there are gorgeous examples of Italian style plaster works in the ceilings.  Some are still being renovated but others have been completed.  They include plenty of examples of what would have been done entirely by hand along with other sections, mostly the moldings, which were fashioned using moulds.

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While not architecturally stunning on the outside, it is, was, and will be once restored, quite grand on the inside.  It’s an interesting place to visit and you’ll get more information if you take the guided tour. A playground on the grounds seemed to be popular with the locals as well as the visitors.


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