In the 1990s, Texan John Carignan purchased Ballytarsna Castle, one of Ireland's innumerable ruins and lovingly restored it to its former glory using traditional Irish stone masonry techniques. Ballytarsna is located just north of the town of Cashel, which is dominated by the larger and more famous castle, the Rock of Cashel, visible from the tower's 5th floor. While the castle and its lands are now completely private, the Carrigans, who live there, invite guests to book rooms via the AirBnb website -- it is perhaps the only Irish castle that can be booked in this way. Visitors get to stay in an en-suite room, with their own library, four-poster bed and free standing bathtub. There is no elevator -- so visitors have to climb the centuries-old steps - all 530 of them! Light luggage is recommended. Ballytarsna castle has its own dungeon, where a former resident has etched a still visible date -- 1536 --- into the wall.
Also known as Carney Castle and Hackett Castle, the original fortification on this site dates back to 1220. The current Norman tower house was erected by Sir William Hackett in 1480 to provide the Hackett family with a safe and private accommodation, separate from the older castle. During the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, the Hacketts were ousted by British parliamentarian forces from Hackett Castle in 1655, due to their support for the Catholic Confederation of Kilkenny. As many Irish castles did during this brutal era, the building then fell into disrepair. It remained that way until its recent restoration.
Ballytarsna Castle. Image: Airbnb