Huntington Castle & Gardens, Clonegal, Co. Carlow
We love exploring, our little family. And living in Ireland allows us to feed our passion for travel, history, culture and food, without fail whenever we choose. We only wish the weather was as reliable. However when the sun shines, it shines brightly and earlier this summer it shone in a cloudless sky when we visited Huntington Castle & Gardens in Clonegal, County Carlow.
Just off the car park you are directed by a sign on one of the mature trees to purchase a ticket for the gardens at the tea rooms. Entrance fee to the Gardens and Playground is €5 per adult and €2.50 per child.
However as there was a House Tour just about to start at 2pm, we, Patrick and I, decided to join it. The guided tour ticket cost €9 each. A child ticket is usually €5 but as Cassidy was only three weeks old at the time he joined the tour for free. Estimated to last about 30 minutes, and knowing the mind of a two-year old, we took a chance on Smith. And we’re glad we did, because he seemed to enjoy it – apart from not being given free rein to run about.
I recommend the guided tour if you are interested in Irish history, architecture and interior design.
Built by Esmonde family in 1625, we learned about the history of the house and gardens. We listened to many a story about the families who lived there through the ages. Colourful and exciting, especially the women – keep an ear out for the freemasons story.
And speaking of women, beneath Huntington Castle you’ll also get to visit the birthplace of the Temple of the Goddess. A religion dedicated to all things feminine. Here you’ll witness shrines to Isis, and also the sacred well of St Brigid.
After the guided tour it was time for coffee and cake at the tea rooms. The coffee was good and the cake deliciously fresh. Smith took the opportunity to show us his artistic skills using the complimentary colouring pages and pencils. But he was more interested in the visitors who popped by to say hello.
Fed and watered, it was time to explore the gardens.
Passing the greenhouse and poultry, the trees, shrubs and flowers, the path, which was thankfully pram friendly, led us to the lawns and to the back of the house in all its glory.
The architecture with its ancient walls and very old additions makes for a castle that has a certain je ne sais quoi, perhaps its timelessness. Beautiful.
The features I love. From the statues and stone staircases, to the turret styled front door. History alive and kicking, but also remnants of a time not yet forgotten.
Like the ruins of the the Monastery, with its alter still intact under an upreaching window.
Back to the gardens and after a stroll through the manicured and formal lawns it was time to explore.
Passing the French lime Avenue which was planted in 1680, and down the ancient paths.
Father and son hand in hand, while mother and son bonded beneath the shade of the leafy greenery.
Smith in his element amongst the bluebells and trees.
Game of Thrones come to mind?
The Yew Walk in all its glory, with trees that are over 500 years old. Fantastic.
And how do you cement the happiness of a toddler who has hopped, skipped and jumped his way around gardens of this size? You take him to the playground of course.
Through the tent and past the sheep and goats, making it as magical as you can.
I love the fact that Huntington Castle & Gardens is owned and run by direct descendents of the Esmonde Family who built it. Alexander and Clare Durdin Robertson and their children live here and what a wonderful home it is. There’s no doubt the hard work and dedication it takes to maintain a house and gardens of this stature. But not only do they maintain Huntington Castle but they are continually upgrading it. Why? Because home is where the heart is.
I’m looking forward to my next visit with our little ones. Actually, as you can stay at Huntington Castle, perhaps Patrick and I can look forward to a stay without the little ones! I’ll keep you posted on that!
Huntington Castle and Gardens are open from May to September 10am – 6pm.
Further Reading: Travel the Island of Ireland with The Life of Stuff
PIN: Huntington Castle & Gardens, Clonegal, Co. Carlow, Ireland
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