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Dramatic Designs: Ireland's Lismore Castle

Posted by Melanie Nayer  June 11, 2012 05:41 AM

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It was hard to pick just one thing to highlight at Lismore Castle. After all, the 17th-century castle in Lismore, Ireland, has some of the most unique, rare and esoteric art and artifacts in the world.

Van Dyck paintings hang above antique brass candlesticks, centuries-old tapestries drape the interior stone walls of the castle's sitting rooms, and newer, modern paintings have been placed on the walls next to heirloom pieces. During the four days I stayed at Lismore Castle (more on that later), I spent more time staring at the walls of the castle then I did exploring the town. Since there is so much to ogle over here, it's worth showcasing a few of the most amazing pieces, instead of picking just one to highlight in today's column (see photos below).

Lismore Castle is wrought with family history and traditional hierarchy. The castle was acquired by the Cavendish family in 1753 when the daughter and heiress of the 4th Earl of Cork married William Cavendish, the 4th Duke of Devonshire and the future Prime Minister of Great Britain and Ireland. The 6th Duke of Devonshire, commonly known as 'the Bachelor Duke', was responsible for the castle's present Gothic-inspired appearance, thanks to the help of architect William Atkinson in 1812. In 1850, it is reported the Bachelor Duke hired architect Sir Joseph Paxton, the designer of The Crystal Palace, renovate the castle's exterior and interior. The castle commissioned Augustus Pugin to adorn the banqueting room, complete with the Dukes' crests in stained-glass windows, serpent etchings in orante fireplaces, and a chandelier that today hangs as one of the most impressive pieces at Lismore.

LismoreChandelier.jpgThe Pugin chandelier in the banquet room. When Pugin was commissioned to design pieces for Lismore, he had actually never seen the castle, and it's said today he never did. The ornate, Gothic-inspired Pugin chandelier that hangs here is one of two in the world. The other hangs in the Houses of Parliament in London.

Today, Lismore Castle still retains the decor of its past, with a few modern embellishments. A contemporary art gallery was added in 2006 next to the castle's upper gardens (which are open to the public), and hosts a rotating exhibit of internationally-known artists. The castle is still owned by the Dukes of Devonshire and can be rented out to families, friends and groups of up to 23 people throughout the year.

Here's a look at some of the castle's most magnificent scenes:

entrance.JPGThe private, gated entrance of Lismore Castle. This view is only available to guests staying at the castle. Members of the public who wish to tour the castle's gardens and art gallery arrive on the other side of the iron gates.

greeting room.JPGThe greeting room is the first point of entry at Lismore Castle. A signing book sits on the foyer table, filled with signatures of past guests throughout the years including John F. Kennedy, Fred Astaire, the Prince of Wales, and the past and current presidents of Ireland.

chair.JPGThis chair in Lismore Castle is rumored to be over 200 years old.

diningroom.JPGThe dining room at Lismore Castle is one of the most magnificent rooms in the house. Thanks to mirrors on one side of the room, views of the Black River are seen from any location. Two of the castle's three Van Dyck paintings hang in here, as well as more modern artwork and centuries-old candlesticks, chairs, vases, and more.

duchessroom.JPGThe Duchess Room, one of the 18 guest rooms at Lismore Castle, has a private dressing room, full bathroom with tub and shower, and canopied bed that allows for views of Lismore and the Black River.

tapestry1.jpgOne of the many tapestries that hangs in Lismore Castle.

tapestry2.JPGAnother tapestry that graces the walls in the castle.

wine-tea.jpgAn evening affair at Lismore Castle typically involves fine wine with dinner in the dining room, and after-dinner tea or coffee in one of the sitting rooms.

gardenwalk.jpgA view of one of Lismore Castle's steeples as seen from the public gardens on the castle grounds.

Readers: Your thoughts?

Past Dramatic Designs:
B2Hotel's Lobby Lounge and Wine Bar

Gramercy Park Hotel's Drawing Room

Mandarin Oriental New York's elliptical lobby
Ritz-Carlton Wolfsburg's 'floating' swimming pool

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Melanie Nayer is a travel writer who spent many years in the newsroom before jetting off to see the world. Her goal is to bring readers the best insider information More »

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