For actor Dominic West his time living as royalty in British castles does not end when he steps off of the set of the hit Netflix drama The Crown. Rather the actor resides in his wife’s (Catherine FitzGerald) ancestral home – Glin Caste.
Easily one of the world's best homes, their family property can be found in County Limerick in the West of Ireland and has recently been opened up to the public to stay to help find the funds to renovate and restore the castle and grounds – yearly upkeep of which totals around $172,600.
Here, we take a tour of this historic property and learn a little more about its endearing history.
Glin Castle is a Georgian country house that has belonged to the FitzGerald family for over 700 years, with Catherine’s ancestors settling in the home around the 1200s. Previously owned by her father, the last ‘Black Knight of the Glin’, the castle was left to Catherine and her younger two sisters upon his death in 2011. While the siblings initially listed the home for auction, Dominic and Catherine (having married at the property in 2010) decided to take on the task of restoring the 18-bedroom home as accommodation for themselves, their children, and now the public.
Rich with history, it is perhaps unsurprising that the home is full to bursting with period features. The home has not remained the same since the 1200s, of course, with changes made to the property throughout the years as dictated by FitzGerald’s personal fortunes. After falling on hard times in the late 17th century, for example, it was only a wealthy marriage that managed to save the home from disrepair.
The neoclassical-style building boasts delicate plasterwork ceilings, Corinthian columns, and elegant staircases lit by Venician windows in the grand entryway ideas alone – all created in the 18th century. In the 19th century, once again to save the home from ruins, the castle was upgraded yet again with John Fraunceis (nicknamed the Knight of Women for his 15 illegitimate children) added Gothic inspired castellations, false arrow slits, and millioned windows as well as overhauling the grounds. He added several follies and grottos that still stand to this day – all added rather mischievously to privately entertain his several mistresses away from prying eyes.
Within the castle, there are currently five remaining reception rooms comprising a superb entrance hall; a large light drawing room with six immense windows offering views across the estuary, and large Bossi marble fireplace ideas; and deep claret-colored dining room ideas designed to comfortably sit up to 35 people that have played host to centuries of feasts and celebrations.
The castle, having been made into a hotel in the 1990s, now has 15 bedrooms, all of which have been updated to include en-suite bathrooms in recent years, offering spectacular views of the gardens or Shannon estuary. Each bedroom is uniquely decorated and far from lacking in color. The eclectic spaces, despite their additions, are traditionally dressed with plush beds and chaise longues, colorful handcrafted rugs, and walls adorned with pictures and porcelains. What’s more, flower arrangements are created each day and placed into the rooms to help bring the ‘country home’ atmosphere to life.
The property is rather obviously a grand gallery of artwork as well as a home. When it comes to decorating with art, the property naturally showcases years of family portraiture amongst other prized pieces collected throughout the centuries.
The library ideas are splendid indeed, with hand-carved mahogany bookcases, in-laid stair rails, and intricate plaster ceilings. The true gem of the library, however, is its magical hidden door – an addition perfectly fitting for a mystical Irish castle. We can only imagine the fun and games the door has seen through the years. The artists of such designs have long been lost to Dominic and Catherine, who have been trying to research the home’s history after the so-called Cracked Knights of the 1860s burned many of the property's historical documents.
The garden ideas at Glin are nothing short of grand, with the property’s unique location permitting the growth of more exotic plants such as groves of gunnera, camellia, and of rhododendron alongside other incredibly rare flowering trees and shrubs nurtured by generations of Fitzgeralds. Some of the best trees on the grounds include century’s-old Persian Ironwood trees and clipped yews.
It is perhaps no surprise that the property offers inspirational garden landscaping ideas with Catherine a practicing landscaping designer. The result is grounds that are in a constant state of beauty that changes both seasonally and yearly. The property is not wholly landscaped and planted, however, with the sprawling lawns giving plenty of space for children to play, as they likely have done at the family home since FitzGerald’s period of ownership.
As a working castle, it is unsurprising that the home also has extensive walled kitchen garden ideas as well, with numerous fruit trees, colorful borders, and vegetable plots helping to feed the inhabitants. The result is a truly seasonal menu – especially has rows of greenhouses that provide fresh tomatoes, grapes, and lemons amongst others.
Source: Glin Castle.
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Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.
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