Lismore Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Lismore Castle

County Waterford, Ireland

Image Credit: Bob Grim / Shutterstock

About Lismore Castle

Lismore Castle is the Irish home of the Duke of Devonshire. Located in County Waterford, Ireland, it has been significantly rebuilt over the years: the current structure dates predominantly to the mid 19th century.

History of Lismore Castle

Originally built as a sister castle to the nearby Ardfinnan in 1185, it was closely linked to Lismore Abbey, and remained a site with ecclesiastical connotations well into the 13th and 14th centuries. It was also a strategic site, built to guard the river crossing, and was in the possession of the Earls of Desmond for much of the Medieval period. In 1589, Lismore was briefly leased to Sir Walter Raleigh, and then in 1602, it was sold to Richard Boyle, late the 1st Earl of Cork.

Boyle made Lismore his principle seat, transforming the castle into a residence fit for an Earl – adding a gatehouse, castellated outer wall and gabled ranges. The house was damaged in the Cromwellian wars: restoration work was undertaken to make the house habitable again, but the Earls of Cork never lived at Lismore again.

Lismore Castle was part of the dowry of Lady Charlotte Boyle on her marriage to the Marquess of Hartington (and future Duke of Devonshire and Prime Minister) in 1755. The 6th Duke of Devonshire was the one to carry out major works, turning the castle into the building it is today. The style is Gothic Revival, and the noted architect A. W. N. Pugin designed large parts of Lismore, including overseeing the renovation of the old Bishop’s Palace into a banqueting hall.

The castle remains in the possession of the Dukes of Devonshire today – while their primary residence remains Chatsworth, Lord Burlington oversees the running of Lismore. In 2005, the derelict west wing was transformed into a contemporary art gallery. The castle itself is available to rent for private groups, but is not open to the public

Lismore Castle today

The castle’s interior is closed to the public, but the lovely gardens are open to the public from March to October and are well worth visiting. The modern sculpture walk contrasts with what is believed to be the oldest landscaped garden in Ireland – the 17th century walled garden is a particular delight.

Lismore Castle Arts showcases some of Ireland’s best contemporary visual arts: a variety of exhibitions and events are held throughout the year, so check their online calendar

Getting to Lismore Castle

Lismore Castle is in the town of Lismore, just off the N72, which runs between Killarney and Dungarvan. From Waterford, head west on the N25, and take the N72 at Dungarvan. From Cork, head north on the M8 and take the N72 eastbound at Fermoy: it takes about an hour from either city. Bus 363 from Dungarvan to Tallow runs through Lismore if you’re arriving via public transport. There’s ample parking around the castle.