The owners of Dardistown Castle, in County Meath, tell all about the reality of living the dream and living in an Irish castle for the last 30 years.
Owning a castle, now that sounds like a dream come true. And in Ireland it’s possible. But before you buy, be aware there are a few things to consider you probably haven’t thought of, like bats and frogs and the fact that it can be drafty and expensive.
Ken and Lizanne Allen know all the pros and cons of owning a castle. They bought one 30 years ago. Dardistown Castle is located just outside of Drogheda.
“We were actually looking for a manor house, but came across this,” Lizanne says.
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“We didn’t expect to get it, but we did. And we have been working on it every since!”
Lizanne is an accomplished interior decorator, Ken was in construction so they had a lot of the equipment and the expertise to do much of the work themselves. But restoring something like Dardistown Castle is a never-ending project.
“At first it seems it was getting things out, like bats and rats and frogs, that had lived here for years,” LIzanne says thinking back with amusement. “Then we took it room by room to renovate.”
And with historic properties, like castles, you have to retain the original integrity of the building, so stones, windows and other materials have to be replaced with like materials. You can’t just modernize with say double pained windows.
“I think one of the biggest challenges this past year, was getting water pressure up the turret so that we could put in a shower up there. We had to do it with gravity and it was tricky,” says Ken, who admittedly loves a challenge. “I’ve painted most of the window sills but once you get done its time to start all over again. There are so many of them.”
Still they have raised five kids at Dardistown and it is an incredible place to see. They have turned the turret into a castle apartment, and have two outbuildings transformed into rentals on Air B & B. The main house has fireplaces in almost every room, a barrel ceiling dungeon, winding hallways, large bedrooms an amazing kitchen and a beautiful setting.
Aside from the rentals, the house is open set hours just to drop by and look at it which is another requirement of historic properties like this. “We love it here”, Lizanne says. “But don’t fool yourself, a castle is a lot of work!”
* Erin Meehan Breen is an Emmy award-winning freelance writer currently based in Galway, Ireland. You can find more of her work and her podcast Erin's Isle at ErinMeehanBreen.com
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