A Jacobean gem that has a story to tell – inside the castle and out

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IN more than 160 acres of woods, farmland and gardens mainly laid out in the 17th century by the ancestors of the current family in residence, Huntington Castle and Gardens has a story to tell, inside and out.

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Alexander Durdin Robertson of Huntington Castle and Gardens Ireland

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A must-see destination at Huntington Castle and Gardens in Ireland is the other-worldly Yew Tree Walk, thought to be more than 500 years old

French lime trees line the main avenue up from the village of Clonegal in County Carlow Ireland. There are formal lawns to one side of the castle as well as fish ponds and the spectacular yew tree walk along with a refurbished tea room, guided castle tours, woodland walks and rose gardens and an adventure playground for children.

Lawns are laid out near the castle’s conservatory, a later addition that contains a vine gifted by Anne Boleyn to Cardinal Wolsey and within the grounds are champion and rare trees including a giant fir, the tallest tree in County Carlow along with rare poplar, yew and champion cypress and hemlock trees. The gardens and castle are spectacular and it can be easy to forget that at the back of it is a family home kept by Alexander Durdin Robertson and his wife Clare along with their three young sons Herbert, Esmonde and Freddie, directly descended from the Esmonde family who first constructed the Jacobean gem.

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Percy the Peacock is one of the more colourful characters to be found at Huntington Castle and Gardens

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Refresh and relax in the Tea Room at Huntington Castle and Gardens and find gifts along with an amazing collection of books on gardening

“There are very few places left that are still maintained as a family home,” said Alexander Durdin Robertson about his ancestral home. “(Guests) can be here and (the family) can walk in with the dogs following or a few kids can be running across the yard. That is what makes us authentic and there are very few places left like that.”

While the castle, built on the much older site of a former abbey is filled with twists and turns including arrow slit windows that open onto newer construction behind, and antiquities such as a medieval armour collection and the headquarters of the Temple of the Goddess, this particular family home that happens to have been there since 1625 is quite the rare Jacobean gem that just happens to host weddings and offer accommodation.

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The Rose Walk at Huntington Castle and Gardens, leading to the Rose Garden and stream

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Flower beds line smooth gravel paths winding through the gardens at Huntington Castle

“The kind of venue we are, we are not a mass market venue,” said Alexander Durdin Robertson. “We are an original experience. You have the paintings, the original history. People find it interesting to see the house, how the family lives and how we make it work.

“It’s not Downton Abbey,” he added, “Sitting in the study while reading the paper. It is authentic, not build 20 years ago.”

When Pynck.com first spoke with Huntington Castle’s scion he just happened to be in the middle of a flock of sheep, some of the 600 or so on the property. Their bleats punctuated the start of what led to a memorable visit to a rare Jacobean gem.

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The Greenhouse, filled with fabulous blooms and foliage

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Huntington Castle and Gardens, a Jacobean jewel in County Carlow Ireland

Huntington Castle and Gardens is open until the end of September to visitors while accommodation can be booked online at https://huntingtoncastle.com.


Tags: Arts & Culture Travel Staycations

Image credits: Kim Mullahey, Huntington Castle

Kim Mullahey

Kim Mullahey is Pynck.com’s Ireland Correspondent. She holds an honours undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Chicago and has taught Adult Education Creative Writing Studies. Through a media career spanning nearly 25 years Kim has written and photographed regional news, national and international horse sports, fashion and lifestyle. Kim lives with her husband and son in Kildare Ireland, and a stray marmalade cat who has adopted the family.

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