Through the Irish Midlands, to Castle Durrow

(May 10, 2017) I left Castle Dunamase in search of Timahoe Tower, another destination recommended to me by staff at my hotel in Portlaoise. On my route, I passed throw the small town Durrow, and made a stop there to go up the lane to Darrow Castle, now a high-end wedding destination, with a convent still occupying an older portion of the castle on the same grounds.

Fields of mustard as I drove through the Midlands

A grocery store selling peat bricks outside the door

Compressed and dried peat bricks are used by 20% of the households in this area to heat their homes

Durrow has been a small Christian settlement since the Bronze Age, but in the early 1700s became a planned village under the direction of Colonel William Flower, who began the 4-year construction of Castle Durrow in 1712, and sectioned off 224 surrounding lots for the village of Durrow. After the Flower family returned to England in 1922, the castle became St. Fintan’s College and Convent, named after the patron saint of Durrow. The property was purchased in 1998 to be redeveloped into the luxury Castle Durrow Country House Hotel, and is considered one of the finest country manors remaining in the Irish Midlands.

Entering County Kilkenny

A mural in Durrow commemorating the 300th anniversary of the village

The Church of Ireland, built on the site of St. Fintan’s original church

Stone altar piece, in the Church of Ireland

I hadn’t realized that I was heading to a exclusive hotel, but I was welcomed in and encouraged to look around and take photographs. The formal gardens are meticulously groomed, and hotel guests enjoy cocktails in the surrounding seating areas, when weddings are not scheduled for the gardens.

Entering the grounds of Castle Durrow

The part of the castle still occupied by St. Fintan’s convent

Formal gardens within the castle walls

Luxury hotel dining room area

Old castle and convent burial ground, enclosed in a high stone wall

I was soon on my way, after a quick walk through the grounds, still heading for Timahoe Tower.

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