Although most descriptions we’ve read of Kilkenny Castle led us to expect sense of the medieval, what we found was a grand structure embodying the fascination wealthy 19th Century families had with long-bygone times. I ventured down to the basement, where the medieval foundation was still visible through glass panels set into the floor and an impression of a straw dome o the sort used for scaffolding arched over the room from which one could see the sally-port, the small door through which castle soldiers would sneak out to harass sieging armies.
The main floor contained a stately dining room and the drawing room to which ladies would retire after dinner, while the men remained at table sipping brandy and smoking cigars. Upstairs, the famous Long Hall, its beams adorned with heads of fantastic beasts, sported dozens of portraits of members of the Butler family, royalists who had decamped for London, leaving the place neglected for decades. Off the hall, the bedrooms, library, family withdrawing room and nursery were furnished with everyday items from the period, though not original to the house. Most of the windows looked out on acres of lovely lawn and gardens, and the video that ran in a room across the courtyard provided an informative overview of the history of the castle and of the Butler family.
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