Lismore Castle

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Lismore Castle is located in the town of Lismore, in County Waterford in Ireland. It was largely re-built in the Gothic style during the mid-nineteenth century by William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire.


Early history

The castle site was originally occupied by Lismore Abbey, an important monastery and seat of learning established in the early 7th century. It was still an ecclesiastical centre when Henry II, King of England stayed here in 1171, and except for a brief period after 1185 when his son King John of England built a 'castellum' here, it served as the episcopal residence of the local bishop. In 1589 Lismore, was leased and later acquired by Sir Walter Raleigh, who sold the property during his imprisonment for High Treason in 1602 to another famous adventurer, Richard Boyle, later 1st Earl of Cork.

The Earls of Cork & Burlington

Boyle came to Ireland from England in 1588 with only twenty-seven pounds in capital, and proceeded to amass an extraordinary fortune. After purchasing Lismore he made it his principal seat and transformed it into a magnificent residence with impressive gabled ranges each side of the court yard. He also built a castellated outer wall and a gatehouse known as the Riding Gate. The principal apartments were decorated with fretwork plaster ceilings and hangings of tapestry, embroidered silk and velvet. It was here in 1627 that Robert Boyle The Father of Modern Chemistry, the fourteenth of the Earl's fifteen children, was born. The castle descended to another Richard Boyle, 4th Earl of Cork & 3rd Earl of Burlington, who was a noted influence on Georgian architecture (and known in architectural histories as the Earl of Burlington).

Lismore featured in the Cromwellian wars when, in 1645, a force of Catholic confederacy commanded by Lord Castlehaven sacked the town and Castle. Some restoration was carried out by Richard Boyle, 2nd Earl of Cork (1612-1698) to make it habitable again, but neither he nor his successors lived at Lismore.

The Dukes of Devonshire

The castle (along with other Boyle properties - Chiswick House, Burlington House, Bolton Abbey and Londesborough Hall) was acquired by the Cavandish family in 1753 when the daughter and heiress of the 4th Earl of Cork, Lady Charlotte Boyle (1731-1754) married William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire, a future Prime Minister of Great Britain & Ireland. Their son, the 5th Duke (1748-1811), carried out improvements at Lismore, notably the bridge across the Blackwater, in 1775, designed by Cork-born architect, Thomas Ivory.

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