Kinnitty is located at the crossroads of Ireland in Ireland’s Ancient East within 2 hours drive of Newgrange,The Rock of Cashel,Holy Cross Abbey, Kilkenny, Cork, Blarney Castle, Galway, the Burren,Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. Here in the heart of Ireland you will experience the culture and heritage of the real Ireland. I have drawn up some interesting tours of Ireland’s Ancient East which will take you to some unique parts of hidden Ireland where the real gems are to be found and further afield to more well known attractions. For details – CLICK HERE
Locally there are many ancient heritage attractions including the marvellous Rock of Dunamase near Portlaoise. Damer House and Castle in Roscrea, haunted Leap Castle the seat of the O Carrolls, Birr Castle Gardens and Telescope. Further to the west is Clonmacnoise, an ancient Celtic foundation which continued to be a great monastery throughout the medieval period and has some interesting ruins from the 13th and 14th centuries in addition to its Celtic crosses and round tower. Besides its solid relics, Clonmacnoise has an atmosphere of tranquillity unsurpassed anywhere in Ireland.
Offaly is the county where Barak Obama’s ancestors emigrated to the United States from in the 1850’s. President Obama’s Irish connections are through his great-great-great grandfather Fulmouth Kearney. The Kearney family originated in Shinrone. The birth and death records are in the local Church of Ireland archives for Joseph and Cecily Kearney, who would be the president’s seven times great grandparents; a marriage certificate for Joseph and Sarah Kearney, his six times great grandparents; and a birth certificate for William Kearney, who would be Mr Obama’s five times great-grandfather and a grandfather of Fulmouth Kearney.
If you are exploring the rugged west coast of Ireland, why not stop a night or two to experience the contrast. Kinnitty is far removed from the commercialism of busy resorts like Killarney, Dingle, Galway or indeed Dublin, still retaining a charm and pace more reminiscent of Ireland of the past than of today.. Local attractions include the Slieve Bloom Mountains, Leap Castle the most haunted castle of the O’Carroll Clan, Birr Castle Gardens and Giant Telescope, Belvedere House and Gardens,Clonmacnoise, Lough Boora Parklands to name but a few.
Since 1994 Kinnitty Castle Hotel has been run as one of Ireland’s premier Irish Castle wedding venues hosting dream weddings for a host of celebraties including Louis Osborne, Joe Elliott, Miriam O’Callaghan, Edel Lynch and Shane Lynch. Kinnitty Castle Hotel ticks all the boxes when it comes to choosing a fairytale wedding venue, with its magical exterior set against the spectacular backdrop of the Slieve Bloom Mountains. It is located close to the picturesque village of Kinnitty with its charming Irish pubs and churches. It is a great venue for that special day.
The first castle at Kinnitty was destroyed in 1209 and was later built by the Normans in 1213. Later the Norman’s were driven out by the powerful Gaelic clan, the O’Carroll’s of Eile. During the Norman period an Augustinian Abbey was established near the Castle, of which the famous High Cross and Abbey still remain on the estate.
In 1630 William O’ Carroll built a new Castle in close proximity to the old Abbey. This was confiscated in 1641 by the English forces as part of the plantation of Offaly or “Kings County” as it was renamed. In 1664 the crown granted an estate, which included Kinnitty Castle, to Col. Thomas Winter as reward for military service.
The estate was sold by Col. Winter’s descendants to the Bernard family in 1764. It then became known as Castle Bernard. In 1811 Lady Catherine Hutchinson, wife of Thomas Bernard, commissioned the famous Pain Brothers architects of Dromoland Castle and Adare Manor, to extend the castle to what Kinnitty Castle is today, a gem of neo gothic architecture.
In 1922 as with many stately homes in Ireland Kinnitty Castle was burned by the Republican forces. Kinnitty Castle was rebuilt in 1928, and the Bernard family lived there until 1946 when it was sold to Lord Decies who in turn sold the castle to the State in 1951. The state retained ownership of Kinnitty Castle until it was purchased by the Ryan family in 1994.