Portumna Castle - Portumna
Portumna Castle enjoys a fabulous location close to the shores of Lough Derg on the River Shannon, sitting amongst 1500 acres of lovely parkland and woods. It is a fabulous semi-fortified house and is an imposing and impressive structure despite being destroyed by accidental fire in 1826. When it was constructed it was unparalleled in its style, grandeur and prominence, and clearly demonstrates the wealth of its owner. The castle is a large rectangular house with three storeys over a basement, with flanking towers and battlements at the top.
Over the years work has been carried out to sympathetically restore the castle with conservation works ongoing and being carried out by a team of skilled craftsmen. The Castle is a superb example of Irish architecture in the early 17th century. It was constructed by Richard de Burgo prior to 1618. It served as the main seat of the de Burgo family for more than two hundred years. The castle demonstrates the adjustment from the medieval Tower House to the Renaissance style manor house with complimentary aspects from both periods. It was possibly the first building in Ireland built in the Renaissance stye. Characteristics of the Renaissance style on the exterior are the doorcase on the front entrance and the Tuscan gateway of the innermost courtyard. Characteristics of its defensive nature include the strong exterior walls and two enormous interior walls that run the length of the house to support the roof.
The castle is accessed by a long avenue through a series of three imposing gateways and beautiful formal gardens. These gateways provided additional security to the castle. This impressive entrance has three formal enclosures that consist of geometric and regular paintings in an impressive layout, including, an old shrub rose garden and a walled kitchen garden, they demonstrate and present an authentic 17th century setting, planted with organic flowers, herbs and vegetables, and present visitors with the perfect opportunity to see the gardening techniques and heritage plants of this period in time. There is also a Willow Maze with a number of different willow varieties, its middle path is lined with a lattice of fruit trees that are under planted with lavender.
The ground floor of the castle is open to the public and contains an exhibition on the history of the de Burgo family and restoration of the building, told through a number of presentation panels, that are based on accurate historical information, along with some interesting artefacts and paintings. There is an audio visual presentation that enhances the exhibition and brings the story of the castle to life and includes information on the work done. Visitors get a feel of what the castle was like through the big halls and tall rooms. Although there is not too much to see it is still interesting.
Portumna Castle is open daily from mid March to mid October and on weekendes only from mid October to the end of October.