Ross Castle, located in Killarney, is set in an idyllic location among some of Ireland's finest scenery.
Killarney is well suited to walking tours, and its paths lead to Ross Castle, a large square tower on the shores of Lough Leane.
The castle is distinguished by the fact that it was the last conquest of Cromwell’s armies in 1652. It has a square keep and is surrounded by what remains of its curtain walls. Built by the O’Donoghue Ross Chieftains in the late 15th century, it is a prime example of the structures of that period, with larger windows added later when they became more sensible.
Some of the castle’s original features have disappeared, such as the drawbridge door that once protected the main oak entrance door. Above this door are several unique stone projections that were once used to defend the entranceway from above.
Inside, all chambers are connected by a huge stone staircase positioned in the northeast corner of the castle. The main chambers include the entrance hall, the Guardroom, the sleeping chambers.
Much of the Ross Castle visible today is the product of extensive restoration. The original bedchamber ceiling fell victim to collapse but was rebuilt using the same medieval technique as the original. The medieval process includes building and plastering around a wickerwork pattern that remains inside the finished product to produce a unique texture after the wood frame is removed. The ceiling is vaulted for even greater dramatic effect. The plaster was made from a mixture of lime and sand, with animal hair added to prevent cracking.
The Great Hall of Ross Castle is located at the top of the tower, and includes the large windows and a welcoming fireplace, capped with a refashioned oak roof that contains no nails, only dowels. The hall includes a minstrel gallery and a separate kitchen.
Finally, Ross Castle exhibits an interesting system of parapets and turrets from which the castle was defended, excellent for its time period, when protection was of paramount concern in the design and building process.
Ross Castle and Killarney lakes. Image by FarbenfroheWunderwelt