BIRR CASTLE

Posted by Tracy Fahey on January 07, 2008 in Guest Blog, Ms Tracey Fahey tagged with

Birr Castle, Co. Offaly is an example of a further intersection of architecture and literature.  It appears thinly disguised as ‘Kinalty Castle’ in Henry Green’s Loving (1945), and is also interesting as an example of the typical Gothic Revival concept of a castle.  Looking at Birr Castle, we can ‘read’ its appearance.  It appears to be defensive in purpose, with thick walls, the forbidding gateway, the arrow-slits…

 

 

Yet when we look closer, the image begins to dissipate.  The castle itself is a sham, an elaborate Gothic garment dating from 1804 that has been pulled around a smaller shell of a medieval house.  The arrow slits are purely decorative and the elaborate front designed by Francis Johnson is grafted on.  This is a mock-castle, a symbol of rank, an echo of the medieval past.  It creates a false pedigree of ownership, so important to the Anglo-Irish Ascendancy, who would even blacken their mahogany furniture in order to simulate a Jacobean history for it.

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