Saturday, 17 September 2011

Gothy places to visit- Ardgillan Castle!

Ardgillan Castle

Oooky spooky castle shaped things and so forth! Welcome to my first post on gothy places to visit in Ireland. I'm starting off the fun with a piece on Ardgillan Castle which is located along the Irish coastline between Skerries and Balbriggan. It's a lesser known tourist attraction, in fact the bus driver (who drives the route every day) had never even heard of it. Bit worrying when you consider the fact that it's a five minute walk from one of the bus stops on his route! Now, I won't lie to you. Its not the gothiest of spots at first glance but there are plenty of dark and appealing things about this location that made me want to feature it here. I actually came up with the idea for this blog on the bus journey to Ardgillan! Fact. 

 The Georgian castle was originally much smaller and the property was extended during the 18th and 19th century to include, amongst other things, decorative towers and battlements. Home decor really was way more exciting back in the day!  The Taylor family bought the property in 1737 and retained ownership for over 200 years until it was bought by Heinrich Pott in 1962. Finally the grounds were sold to the Dublin County Council in 1982 who have retained ownership ever since. During the early days of its history the woodland area surrounding the castle was cleared by ex-soldiers and itinerants for one penny and one meal a day plus accommodation. Yikes.

The View 
The castle overlooks the sea and is surrounded by beautiful lawns and winding woodlands. It's a bit out from the city centre but so worth it. (Further info on transport is available on the  official website here. If you get the bus make sure you get the ones that go as far as Balbriggan, the one's marked with 's' beside them won't bring you to the Castle. The website doesn't tell you that and I learned the hard way)

Since it's open to the public you can take a tour of the castle and it really is beautiful. The library in the castle has copies of Vanity Fair dating back to the 1890's and one of those really cool ninja doors that resembles a stack of books. The ultimate academic camouflage! The house is furbished with both Victorian and Georgian style furniture, most of which is actually original. The inside is full of character and it's easy to imagine wandering demurely around the rooms in an elaborate and swishy dress. Speaking of clothing, there is a mirror in one of the rooms just above the floor which was used for the express purpose of checking one's shoes and the ends of one's skirts and so forth. There are also two giant stuffed bears in one of the main halls along with a stuffed eagle and some lovely shiny swords. Why the hell not.

The castle also has a Victorian conservatory and a beautiful collection of roses within its walled garden. Pause a moment and let that sentence sink in!


Not very gothy but I thought it was cute! Busy bee. 
Of course a castle ain't a castle without a good old fashioned ghost story, right? Well, there is the story of a ghostly lady who haunts the area surrounding the bridge on the main road. Indeed the road is actually known as 'The Lady's Stairs'. The bus lets you off right at this bridge and it is a bit unnerving, especially because you have to walk through woodlands to reach the grounds. We (my boyfriend and I) heard a strange creaking sound as we walked through the woods, twas creepy but also really fun! I heard one version of events which said that this woman killed herself and another which suggests that she died by the coast waiting for her (drowned) husband to return from his swim. Yet another suggests that she was killed. Regardless, you don't want to meet this ghostly figure at Halloween- according to local legend she will drown anyone who crosses her path on October 31st... 

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