Its Heritage Week in your Castle
Charleville Castle is opening its doors free of charge to the general public again this year as a part the National Heritage Week. On Monday evening, August 23rd, renowned local historian, Michael Byrne will preside over a discussion on “The Fortunes Of The Charleville’s in the 19th Century”. Ciaran J Reilly will be bringing to the public for the first time revealing information the issues and challenges faced by the Charleville family in the lead up to and after the famine.
The 1820s and 1830s was the zenith for life and activity at Charleville Castle. It was a period which saw the designing and enlargement of the demesne and large scale agricultural improvements amongst other projects. At this time Charleville Castle was arguably the most prominent of the county’s numerous ‘Big Houses’. This lecture will examine the fortunes of the Charleville estate in the mid- nineteenth century by examining the role of Francis Berry, Lord Charleville’s land agent – while also highlighting the reasons for the decline of Charleville on the eve of the Great Famine. Ciarán Reilly is an IRCHSS Ph.D student at Dept of History, NUI Maynooth.
Every year millions of Europeans visit historical monuments and sites throughout Europe on European Heritage Days. These are a joint initiative of the Council of Europe and the European Union in which over forty countries participate each year. The main aim of European Heritage Days is to promote awareness of our built, natural and cultural heritage and to promote Europe’s common cultural heritage. In Ireland we celebrate European Heritage Days with a full week of events throughout National Heritage Week.
The Heritage Council coordinates National Heritage Week with support from the Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government & Failte Ireland. The aim of National Heritage Week is to build awareness and education about our heritage thereby encouraging its conservation and preservation.
Each year many national and hundreds of local community organisations participate by organising events throughout the country. Many of the events that take place during the week are free and the program highlights the abundance of great work that is carried out in all communities in Ireland to preserve and promote our natural, built and cultural heritage. The Charleville Castle Heritage Trust has been supporting important research work in the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. The Maynooth based Centre for Historic Irish Houses & Estates is focusing on three new lines of research namely; The Great Famine and the Irish Country House; Irish Country Houses and their Yorkshire Connections and Music and the Irish Country House. Charleville Castle is now top of the list and exciting new information is coming to the fore. The Monday night discussion will present these new findings. Very little has been published about the Charleville family in these contexts. There has been much conjecture and legend. The Maynooth research coupled with important Offaly Historical Research is helping to shine a new light on these parts of our history and cultural development. The Charleville Castle Heritage Trust is determined to, not only, preserve Charleville Castle, but also foster a better understanding of this part of our heritage and cultural development, and , as with the castle, share this with the public and the community.
Have you never had a guided tour of Charleville Castle? Well now is your chance! For two whole hours on Wednesday the 25th of August, volunteers at Charleville Castle are offering you a free guided tour (subject to numbers of course) between 2pm and 4pm. So Offaly will have a busy week with these and other attractions been thrown open to the public.