Over 730 years in the Irish landscape
Dating from the late 13th Century, Barberstown Castle has sat in the Irish landscape for over 730 years. Built in 1288, by Nicholas Barby (who gives his name to the castle) Barberstown Castle, is nestled in the rich fertile plains of north Kildare. First recorded in the early 1300s as ‘Barbuston’, the castle has played a significant role in Irish history.
The castle walls speak to an era of defence, when Barberstown played an important role in defending the so-called ‘Pale’ from attack. This area, the ‘Pale’, was a series of castles and fortifications which encircled the city of Dublin ensuring that native Irish clans could not attack the seat of English rule in Ireland. For the next two centuries, Barberstown was regularly attacked by the Ui Faolain tribes and other ‘native Irish’ clans.
After the end of the Williamite Wars of the 1690s the castle was no longer threatened, and its uses and functions changed. Under the ownership of the Carncross, Robinson and Littleboy families, Barberstown became a working estate where some of the latest agricultural techniques and advances were put to use.
The castle is also associated with a number of myths and legends which form part of Irish history, not least the tale of the owner of Barberstown who went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that the castle remained in the family possession and so was buried in the walls of the castle. Other tales are told of secret passage ways, or souterrains (tunnels) to the nearby village of Straffan, again reflecting a time when Barberstown was a great defensive structure.
One of a number of country houses located in the Straffan area, Barberstown Castle still retains many of these eighteenth and nineteenth century features of such homes. Depicted in the sketches of the celebrated antiquarian, Austin Cooper, in the 1780s, an eighteenth-century house had been added to the castle which was then thatched. Walking through the doors of Barberstown the visitor can experience the various architectural changes to the castle over many centuries.
Opening as a country house hotel in 1971, Barberstown Castle is a 55-bedroom Failte Ireland approved 4 Star Hotel and a proud member of Ireland's Blue Book of properties and Historic Hotels of Europe.
Barberstown Castle has survived confiscation and conflict, plunder and rebellion. The castle has been home to agricultural innovators, horse breeders, decorated veterans of war, members of the British House of Parliament and celebrity musicians, among them Eric Clapton CBE who purchased the property in 1979, to name but a few of the more illustrious of the 37 owners of the castle.
Each has left their own mark on the history of the castle and lands. Now it is our turn to do so, and we welcome you to Barberstown to share that experience with us…
Dr. Ciaran Reilly, Maynooth University
Since 1288 Barberstown has had 37 owners all of whom had the foresight to protect its heritage and character. Look out for the names of all the owners of Barberstown Castle painted on the bedroom doors of the hotel!