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Pictured here is Charleville Castle, a Gothic Revival castle on the outskirts of the town of Tullamore in Co Offaly. It dates back to 1798 when extensive and highly imaginative plans were drawn up to create this almost toy looking castle.

The Earl of Charleville, Charles William Bury commissioned one of the leading architects in Ireland at the time; Francis Johnston to make his gothic dream come to life. It took fourteen years to complete, but still stands today as one of the most highly regarded works of gothic revival architecture in Ireland. The building is considered to be Francis Johnston's masterpiece. His other works in Ireland include the GPO in O Connell Street in Dublin and the Chapel Royal in Dublin castle.

As Victorian Gothic Revival goes, this castle is actually quite compact. In those days, gothic castles tended to be rambling buildings covering huge amounts of ground and with hundreds of rooms. This castle consists of what we see here and then a small chapel and the stables and kitchen buildings.

Inside the castle is notable for its immensely high ceilings and detailed stencil work.

During the years it was lived in, the castle had to close its doors many times due to its occupants living way beyond their means. But every time it reopened new flamboyant features were added to celebrate the occasion.

By 1912 the castle was abandoned and it lay as such for almost 60 years. By 1968 the roof had been removed and it was classed as a part of vanishing Ireland, the many great old buildings which were slowly but surely disappearing from the landscape. Michael Mullen began restoration work in 1971 and it has been ongoing since.

The castles construction came about as a direct result of the bloody insurrection which engulfed Ireland in 1798 and which almost caused the collapse of the British Monarchial system.

Even though the castle is not particularly old in comparison to many in Ireland, the land on which is stands traces its history back to the earliest times. The trees we can see in this image are part of Irelands most ancient primordial oak woods, and was once a place where Irelands druids held mystical ceremonies.

The castle has the dubious reputation of being one of Irelands most haunted and is said to be home to the ghost of little Harriet, the youngest daughter of the earl of Charleville.

In 1861 she died tragically in an accident on the main staircase of the castle. Over the years, many people have reported seeing her inside as well as hearing singing, laughing and screams in the dead of night. She is said to be a small figure wearing a blue and white dress with golden hair and blue ribbons. The castle has been the subject of many international TV shows including Most Haunted, Scariest Places on Earth and Ghost Hunters International.

While Harriet is a somewhat innocent and playful figure in the castles reputed haunting, the dungeon holds much darker stories. This place is said to be haunted by the specter of a sadistic torturer who once resided there. People visiting this place have reported seeing the spectral figure of a man and felt an atmosphere most unwelcome. In the dungeons it is said that dark shadows follow you around, temperatures rise and plummet for no reason and a feeling of utter malice pervades the air.

The castle has hosted guests who heard clocks chime where no clocks are present. Knocks on the walls and the furniture are common as well as laughter and ghostly voices of both men and women. The ballroom is the place where ghosthunters reported most activity, with the presence of many spirits there and cold spots which could be felt moving around the living people present. Unexplained lights can be seen throughout the castle when it is dark.

Whatever your belief about ghosts and spirits (and I am quite skeptical), the stories certainly lend an element of charm to this old gothic pile. I am thankful that renovation allows me to still be able to visit this place.

Thanks for looking!

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Additional Photos by Noel Byrne (Noel_Byrne) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2583 W: 12 N: 6169] (21568)
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