The de Burgo (Burke) family moved their seat of power to Portumna when Richard, the 4th Earl of Clanrickarde, built the magnificent semi-fortified manor on the shores of Lough Derg sometime before 1618. At the time it cost £10,000 and included a 1,400-acre demesne.
Architecturally, the building marks the transition from the medieval Tower House to the Renaissance style manor house with complimentary influences from both periods.
The Castle was accidentally destroyed by fire in 1826 but in 1948 the Irish State purchased the castle and remedial work started in 1968. The Office of Public Works re-roofed the building following extensive archaeological and historical research and their programme of conservation and partial restoration works still continues.
The ground floor of the castle is open to the public and houses an exhibition on the history of the de Burgo family, the restoration of the building and a DVD presentation bringing the story to life.
The first of the three gated entrances.
Detail of the pedestrian gate.
An inside view of the first entrance.
The second gated entrance.
He never said a word.
The third gated entrance beyond them
the formal gardens.
The formal garden to the north, geometrically laid-out, contains a Willow Maze incorporating several different willow varieties and a central path lined with espalier fruit trees under planted with lavender.
A 17th-century pottage kitchen garden has also been restored to its original splendour and organically planted with flowers, herbs, hollies, and vegetables. The garden offers the visitor an ideal opportunity to experience the gardening layout and techniques of the past.
An aerial view.
I have been driving through Portumna for many years and only ever stopping occasionally in the town for ice creams and at other times to give our Toby a run in the Forest Park.
So I was really pleased to find this old relic from a former age sitting quietly on the banks of the
River Shannon and hope that it continues to do so.