Glin, County Limerick

The late Georgian gothicisation of Glin Castle is only skin deep, but its pasteboard-like loops, crenellations and gleaming white walls have an ethereal quality that is particularly memorable. The castle's magic is further enhanced by a serene parkland setting, delightful gingerbread Gothick gatelodges and a lush location facing across the Shannon Estuary. The romantically titled Knights of Glin have retained ownership of theirGlin Castle lands here for seven centuries in spite of sharing a familiar history of rebellion, attainders and confiscations with the other Desmond Geraldines.

Fragments of the old medieval castle of Glin can be seen in the village and were built by one of the early Knights, whose family - a cadet branch of the Fitz-Geralds (the Earls of Desmond) - had held their rather unusual title since the fourteenth century. The castle was seriously damaged by the Lord President of Munster, Sir George Carew, in 1600 and completely destroyed following another siege in 1641. By the century's end the family was living one mile west of the old ancestral castle in a thatched cottage known as Glin Hall. They remained true to the old faith until Edward, the twentieth Knight, conformed to Protestantism in 1737. Although he died soon thereafter as a result of dancing at his wedding feast, his three younger brothers became adherents to the Anglican faith as they succeeded to the title: Edmund who died in 1763, Richard the duellist who died in 1775, and Thomas who died in 1781. They all continued to live at Glin Hall, though the castle was rebuilt in a grander fashion after a fire in 1740.

It was Thomas's son-Colonel John Bateman Fitz-Gerald, the twenty-fourth Knight-who began constructing the present mansion on the site of Glin Hall shortly after his marriage in 1789. The new house was designed as a plain three-storey double-bow fronted building with a long service wing, but due to financial problems the third wing was not completed by the time of his death in 1803. His son John Fraunceis Fitz-Gerald, following the fashion of the time, added battlements and turrets after his marriage in 1812 and rechristened it Glin Castle. He liked gambling and evidently was rather successful for he laid out much of the present park, built a hermitage made of tufa, a Gothic folly, the demesne wall (erected as a result of a bet with a local landlord) and three delightful castellated entrances to the demesne, one of which was a copy of the second family crest- 'a castle of two towers argent'.

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