about ballubur castle

Ballybur Castle is a five storey 16th century towerhouse, 8km south of the medieval city of Kilkenny. The castle has been restored to it's former authentic glory using the same techniques and materials as the original 16th century builders. The rooms are larger and the stairs wider than in most of the known square towerhouses. With external dimensions of 38x30 feet, rising to a height of 65 feet, a surprising feature of Ballybur Castle is the light, though narrow, the windows have deep angled sills which deflect the light very efficiently.

Ballybur Castle is now a luxury self-catering holiday home where you can have an unforgettable stay. Available for long or short term lettings, modern comforts have been incorporated without detracting from the charm and simple grandeur of this ancient dewlling. All beds in Ballybur Castle have orthopedia matresses, electric blankets, duvets with covers and feathered cushions, bedrooms also have victorian cast iron radiators installed. The castle comfortably sleeps eight people. The kitchen is fitted with a sink, oven grill, microwave and of course crockery, cutlery, glasses, etc. Full cleaning and catering services can be arranged.

It is a thrilling adventure for younger and older people alike, with lots to see and do in the area surrounding Ballybur Castle, (see our activities pages for more details), it is the perfect location for a relaxing 'get away from it all' break, a small family occasion, a photoshoot, for hosting an exhibition and the ultimate honeymoon destination!

A unique and beautiful example of a medieval towerhouse, built for security and status, and still very much a feature of the Irish landscape today!

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james comerford
james comerford name
anne langton
anne langton name
sketch of ballybur castle
history of ballybur castle

Ballybur Castle is the ancient seat of the Comerford clan, built by Richard Comerford around 1588. Despite the violent times, it seems to have maintained a fairly peaceful existance. It was one of the seats of the powerful Comerford family, the only one remaining.

Ballybur Castle is typical of the single family castles of that period, built primarily for protection against warring groups travelling the countryside. They were usually surrounded by more temporary structures where the farm labourers lived and livestock were kept.

When trouble was brewing, a roofwatch was kept and at the sight of any hostile group, labourers and livestock were gathered into the castle.

The Comerford castles flourished in the 1500s and well into the 16th century, all three castles were clustered in this area. (There were two more castles near Ballybur Castle belonging to the Comerford clan).

One can imagine the social standing of the Comerfords, the entertainment and grand parties that took place in their castles were renowned. The Comerfords occupied Ballybur Castle during the confederation that took place in Kilkenny in 1641.

"And so it happened that the papal Nunco, Cardinal Rinnuncini on his way to Kilkenny stopped at Ballybur Castle where a reception was held in honour of him and many important personages came to pay their respect."

The cardinal presented a very ornate rosary to Richard and Mary Comerford. This rosary was passed on through generations of the castle's owners at Ballybur. It was presented to Rothe House by father Langton Hayward who said he was given the rosary by the Marnell sisters in 1970, who still occupied the castle.

John Comerford, son of Richard Comerford, was the last Comerford to reside at Ballybur Castle. He was banished to Connaught in 1654 and forfeited his castle and lands to Brian Manseragh during the Cromwellian distribution survey of that period. Interestingly, this Brian Manseragh is a forefather of Martin Manseragh, the present T.D. from Tipparary who was the Taoiseach's special advisor for the north during the current peace negotiations.

We know little about the period between 1655 until 1841 when it is stated that Thomas Deigan was the occupier of Ballybur.

Locally it is known that the Marnell sisters married into the Deigan family. They occupied Ballybur until Frank and Aifric Gray bought it in 1979.


The Grays at Ballybur

By Ruan Gray

When mum and dad bought Ballybur in 1979, there was no roof on the castle as it is said that; "Cromwell blew it off with a cannon at the end of Ballybur lane."

At the time when my parents bought the castle, it was in a very poor state of repair. It was their intention to spend five years on it's restoration. They received grant aid from the Kilkenny County Council to replace the windows, some help towards the rebuilding of the roof from the Heritage Council and from Barrow Suir Development to complete the renovation.

It is now 25 years since the work began, and it has been mostly accomplished by dad and some local builders. Now it is completely refurbished and open to visitors. It truly has been a labour of love.

Sketch by Struan Robertson 2005.