In 1993, my Irish husband, Kevin and I moved from Australia to Ireland, one of the main reasons being that we wanted to buy an old cottage and restore it. We absolutely love the vernacular architecture of Ireland and after a lot of searching we fell in love with and bought a wonderful 300-year-old thatched farmhouse that hadn't been lived in for over 10 years.
Over the years we have slowly and painstakingly restored the farmhouse and we were delighted to win Period Living magazine's Best Restoration Award 2011 for Britain and Ireland.
In 2003 we saw a castle advertised for sale (we'd never realized that you could buy one even if you did have the money to spare). We made an offer on that lovely castle and were outbid, but now we had caught the bug and dreamt of buying and restoring a castle ourselves and saving a piece of Irish history.
We spent nearly three years traveling all over the countryside trying to find "the one" until we came upon Tullaun castle in Coolbawn near Nenagh in Tipperary.
Also known locally as The Black Castle, a much-loved local landmark built by the O'Kennedy clan, who were the ruling Gaelic chieftains in this picturesque part of Tipperary in about 1550. Untouched since the 16th century and abandoned for almost 400 years, the castle stands proudly on a rock outcrop and commands the local landscape.
I still remember the feeling when we walked into The Great Hall and thinking "this is it!" It was twilight and we couldn't see very well, but it still had the most wonderful atmosphere. It wasn't for sale, but after many months of negotiations we finally bought the castle in May 2007, just in time for the recession to kick in!
Naturally, this considerably affected our plans. However, we remained committed to its restoration and last year we decided to put every single penny we had into restoring as much of the castle as we could.
We have consolidated the castle now, which included Kevin spending six months repointing the entire exterior. We still hope to restore the battlements in the future, but for now we would love to restore The Great Hall and really bring the castle back to life. We believe that restoring the Great Hall is an important step in breathing new life into the building and reconnecting with its ancient past.
We are really excited that our restoration journey is also being filmed and is going to feature on an international TV program.
We had hoped that, as well as our own funding, there would be some grant support from the relevant bodies, but unfortunately we haven't received any to date. We were unwilling to give up on our dream, and having exhausted every conventional avenue we could think of we decided to try the relatively new and exciting phenomenon of crowd-funding.
This platform offers us an opportunity to achieve our dreams and aspirations for Tullaun Castle and offers our supporters an opportunity to join us on our journey and help leave behind a lasting legacy. We're really excited and looking forward to getting started on the restoration of The Great Hall as soon as the campaign finishes.
We're determined to make it happen! With the support of "the crowd" we are doing our best to ensure that Tullaun Castle will still be standing tall 500 years from now.