Friday, 26 October 2012


An idyllic 18th century view of Rathfarnham Castle
The original castle at Rathfarnham dates back to the Elizabethan period and was built for Archbishop Adam Loftus, an ambitious Yorkshire clergyman, who came to Ireland as chaplain to the Lord Deputy and quickly rose to become Archbishop of Dublin, Lord Chancellor of Ireland and was closely involved in the establishment of Trinity College. The castle with its four flanker towers is an excellent example of the fortified house in Ireland. In the late 18th century, the house was remodelled on a splendid scale employing some of the finest architects of the day including Sir William Chambers and James 'Athenian' Stuart.

For many years, it was owned by the the Jesuits who sold Rathfarnham Castle to a property development group. Before leaving, they removed the stained glass windows from the chapel, made in the famous Harry Clarke studios and donated them to Tullamore Catholic Church which had been destroyed by fire in 1983. The other windows were donated to Our Lady's Hospice, Harold's Cross and Temple Street Children's Hospital, Dublin.

The Irish nation was so horrified that the site was going to be demolished that in 1987 it was bought by the Irish Government and was declared a National Monument.

Rathfarnham today - during preservation work
The castle is haunted, and here is an extract from True Irish Ghost Stories, by St. John D. Seymour and Harry L. Neligan, [1914]. The haunted history is still current today.

In the winter of 1840–1, in the days when snow and ice and all their attendant pleasures were more often in evidence than in these degenerate days, a skating party was enjoying itself on the pond in the grounds of the Castle near Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin. Among the skaters was a man who had with him a very fine curly-coated retriever dog. The pond was thronged with people enjoying themselves, when suddenly the ice gave way beneath him, and the man fell into the water; the dog went to his rescue, and both were drowned. A monument was erected to perpetuate the memory of the dog's heroic self-sacrifice, but only the pedestal now remains. The ghost of the dog is said to haunt the grounds and the public road between the castle gate and the Dodder Bridge. Many people have seen the phantom dog, and the story is well known locally.

The main castle entrance at Rathfarnham Castle
The ghost of a boy who was murdered by a Romany is said to haunt one of the lodge gates of the Castle demesne, and the lodge-keeper states that he saw it only a short time ago. The Castle, however, is now in possession of Jesuit Fathers, and the Superior assures us that there has been no sign of a ghost for a long time, his explanation being that the place is so crowded out with new buildings "that even a ghost would have some difficulty in finding a comfortable corner."

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