Barberstown Castle, built in the 13th century, is an integral part of
the local area. Its history is as fascinating as its architecture and
is worth a visit on these attractions alone.
Nestled on 20 acres of surrounding gardens, Barberstown was one of the first great Irish country houses to display its splendor to the outside world when it opened as an hotel in 1971. It has maintained the elegance of design over eight centuries by sympathetically blending its Victorian and Elizabethan extensions with the original castle battlement of 1288.
The castle was built as a fortress to protect the village and people of Barberstown from the attack of the rebellious Vi Faelain, who tried to burn the town (among others) in 1310. It has traditionally found itself in the middle of political struggle and local wars, which generally resulted in change of ownership.
Since 1288, Barberstown has had 37 owners who have all who had the foresight to protect its heritage and character, including one Eric Clapton, who was one of its most recent owners.
Some of its previous owners have gone to extreme lengths to retain ownership. Just how far some went is illustrated by the story of the body that is said to be interred in the tower of the castle keep (the original part of the castle). His fate can be explained by reading the lease on the castle at the time in which was written that the lease would expire when he was buried underground (ie. his death). The ending of a lease normally resulted in an increase in rent so after the man’s death he was buried in the tower above the earth which ensured the family continued to hold the lease to the castle!
The walls of the castle keep slope inwards so as to prevent an enemy getting out of range by closing up to the building. Ironically, however, the rooms on the upper floors of the castle are larger than those on the ground level as their walls are somewhat thinner.
The neighbouring village of Straffan is named after St. Straffan, one of the early sixth century missionaries. Its close linkages with the local town and people were proven when an underground tunnel from the church in Straffan to the castle was found in 1996 during renovations. A ‘Priest’s Hole’ can be also found in the castle, which was originally made to protect the priests of the town during Penal Times.
Uniquely Barberstown Castle is made up of four buildings from different periods in Irish history. It has recently undergone a multimillion euro redevelopment with careful attention given to retaining the original castle features, character, style and personality of this unique property.