We at Ireland Luxury Tours pride ourselves in highlighting the hidden gems that are all around Ireland , and allowing our clients the choice to visit them of course. Parkes Castle is just such a hidden gem.
A fortified manor house with an interestingly chequered history stands by the calm waters of lough Gill. Built in 1609 by an Ulster settler, Captain Robert Parke, it occupies the site of a much earlier tower-house belonging to the O'Rourke clan, rulers of the kingdom of Breffni. The last unfortunate O'Rourke laird sheltered a shipwrecked Spanish Armada officer and was executed at Tyburn, London, for treason. Features of the medieval structure can be seen in the later house.
Recently the house has been sensitively restored using original materials and local craftsmanship, and it now represents a fascinating piece of research and reconstruction. High walls protect the courtyard. Its witch-hat turrets face the mirror-like lake, and there are splendid views from its ramparts.
Beyond the outer defences near the water's edge lies a little beehive hut of stone. This is a sweat-house, or early Irish sauna, used to alleviate various aliments. From the jetty you can take a boat across the tranquil waters of Lough Gill, set around with hills and attractive forest, calling at the lovely Yeatsian island of Innisfree.
A real hidden gem on any tour of Ireland.