St. Patrick likely wasn’t much of a partier1, even as the day we celebrate him2 is full of indulgences. That said, if whiskey and Guinness and traditional Irish-American-style corned beef and cabbage aren’t enough of a fête for you, perhaps you’d like to pick up the ultimate party spot: an Irish castle.
Glin Castle, in west County Limerick, sits on 380 acres, 23 of which are “pleasure grounds”—the woodland walks and gardens, both landscaped and informal, that surround the building. If you’re into vintage houses, this one ought to do. It’s about 700 years old.
The Knights of Glin
Originally built by an order called the Knights of Glin, the castle was handed down for generations and served as the ancestral home to the FitzGerald clan. But the last Knight of Glin, Desmond FitzGerald, died in 2011. He had three daughters, but no sons, so he had no heir to assume the helm. (The three daughters all live outside of Ireland, anyway; one is even married to actor Dominic West, McNulty from The Wire.)
Before the patriarch's death, the family tried renting it out to celebs such as Mick Jagger. They then operated the 20,000-square-foot castle as a luxury bed-and-breakfast—what’s called a “Blue Book property”—from 2005 to 2009, but that wasn’t a time for booming business.
“The recession hit and they decided not to continue,” says Roseanne De Vere-Hunt, director and head of country homes, farms, and estates at Sherry FitzGerald (no direct relation), an affiliate of Christie's International Real Estate in Ireland. Luckily for the next owner, she says, “they spent about €2.5 million [$2.75 million] bringing it up to luxury standards.”
The castle has 21 bedrooms and includes a smoking room, a drawing room, and a library. Corinthian columns line the reception hall and lead to a magnificent staircase, the only "double flying staircase" in Ireland, lit by a Venetian window. Look close for decorative shamrocks; Glin's one of the first recorded places they were used. There’s also a gate lodge and a guest lodge done up in a hyperdecorative “gingerbread” style, for when your fête needs some overflow space. A dairy farm that comes with the property is fully operational thanks to a partnership agreement with the FitzGeralds and a local farmer.
If you’re worried about decorating 20,000 square feet, have no fear. Many of the castle’s contents and furnishings are for sale as well, most having been collected over lifetimes and expertly curated by the late knight, who himself was a key player in establishing the Irish Historical Trust. They include a set of sixteen 19th century Jacobean dining chairs; a turn-of-the-19th-century mahogany clock; and portraits of Knights of Glin through the ages. The collection is valued by Christie’s Auction House, where Desmond FitzGerald worked as the Irish representative, at €2.35 million, and is offered separately from the rest of the estate.
Co-op vs. Castle
By American—or at least New York or San Francisco—standards, the castle, its grounds, and adjacent buildings are a bargain at a mere €6.5 million, or around $7.2 million. If you want to buy a place on the route of New York’s famous St. Patrick’s Day parade (it's the oldest in the world), which runs from 44th to 79th streets up Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, you’re more likely to get a three-bed, two-bath co-op like this one. It’s not bad (look at that terrace!), but it’s no castle.
The property, says De Vere-Hunt, “has seen considerable interest from international buyers, particularly American, many of them with Irish heritage looking for a piece of Irish history and soil.” And luckily those folks can pass it on to their children, no matter what gender they may be.
Glin Castle can be operated as a B&B again, now that the economy has picked up, or as a full-time or country residence. De Vere-Hunt thinks it’s particularly well-suited for a seasonal home, one that an owner could rent out the rest of the year. After all, the castle sits about an hour west of Limerick city and Shannon International Airport, making it easy to get back and forth to the States or Europe.
But, let’s face it, with 380 acres you probably have room to add an airstrip and land your private plane.