Lismore Castle. A brilliant visit!

Lismore Castle. A brilliant visit!

Spent a few delightful hours at Lismore Castle  Gardens and Gallery last Friday. The brilliant sunshine enhanced the experience. It has been years since I was there and the improvement is unbelievable.

I felt that the visit compares very well with similar places that I’ve visited in France and is great value for the 8 euro entry fee, especially so if you are interested in history (Sir Walter Raleigh was a former owner), plants and art. There are also links with chemistry (Robert Boyle was born here) and the movies as Fred Astaire visited his sister who lived here between 1932 and 1944. And there is much, much more.

You get to see the castle but you don’t get to enter it other than the relatively recent Gallery. In 2003, a plan was conceived to transform the long derelict West Wing of the Castle into a gallery. It was opened in 2005 and has since shown some 40 leading international artists. It is a well laid out, well lit place and there is a refreshment area, a small shop and toilets in the block.

The current show features the sculpture of Hans Josephsohn and sculpture also features in the Lower Garden, the first part of your visit, an informal area with trees, shrubs and lawns, ideal for showing some large pieces including works by Eilis O’Connell, the 2005 Three Lismore Columns by David Nash and, perhaps my favourite, Antony Gormley’s Learning to be I (1992).

The Upper Garden is a “complete of the 17th century walled garden, 1st constructed here by Richard Boyle, the First Earl of Cork, in about 1605”. Key flowers and plants are identified by hanging tags and the same apply to some trees and shrubs in the lower garden. The Upper Garden is also put to work as here vegetables (they supply some to the O’Brien Chop House) and fruits are grown. You could spend days here going through the various plants.

And here too there is sculpture, including another by Gormley, best know for his Angel of the North in Gateshead. I liked the Bridget McCrumm 2001 piece Hunting and enjoyed too the much older (1907) bronze called The Irishman by Edwin Whitney Smith.

Quite a visit. If you do go, remember that Lismore has much more going for it, including a lovely town park, the St Carthage Cathedral, the Blackwater, lots of walks and nearby you have the spectacular drive through the Vee. Give yourself plenty of time and if you feel like lunch or dinner why not try O'Brien Chop House in the town.