Heritage hot spots: History, nature, art, environment
What is it?Shankill Castle at Paulstown, Co Kilkenny, is a castellated manor house built in the early 18th century for Peter Aylward and his family. It is built on the site of a tower house owned by the Butlers of Kilkenny Castle and near the ruins of a 12th-century church and graveyard. In the 19th century it was enlarged and castellated in the neogothic tradition. It is owned by the Cope family.
Why visit?The house and gardens have a mix of charming features from bygone eras. These include a walled garden with an apple-tree arch, a woodland garden, giant sequoias and an unusual octagonal sundial. The house, which is the family home of the painter Elizabeth Cope, is one of the few remaining country houses with an intact system of servant-calling bells.
Why now?Shankill Castle has a full programme of events for Halloween.
Sybil and Reuben Cope will lead ghost tours tonight, tomorrow night and next Friday, between 7pm and 11pm. These candlelit tours for adults and over-12s accompanied by adults will visit the castle, church ruins and graveyard and give visitors an insight into the lives of past residents and their paranormal experiences. There will be a special tour at midnight on Halloween night. Tours cost €15 per person.
Children can learn about Shankill’s trees and make wands and quills in workshops from Friday to Sunday next. The workshops cost €10 per child.
Less scary ghost tours for younger folk will be held today, tomorrow and from next Friday until Sunday, November 4th, at 5pm and 6pm. These cost €8 per child and €5 per adult.
Or how about interactive storytelling and backwards-spelling workshops with the children’s author David Donohoe? They’re at 11am each day from next Saturday until Sunday, November 4th, and cost €10 per child. There are also storytelling sessions for children at 4pm on the same dates, at a cost of €3 per child.
How do I get there?The main gates, known locally as the Black or Haunted Gates, to Shankill Castle are in the village of Paulstown, which you can reach from exit 7 of the M9. Paulstown is about 15km north of Kilkenny city and 20km south of Carlow town.
The grounds are open to the public all year for €5 per person; guided house tours cost €5 per person. Call 059-9726145 or see shankillcastle.com