We arrived for a 2 night stay at the amazing Killiane Castle in Wexford. We were immediately struck by the size of the ruins but also by the free access that was granted to us by the owner.
Our apartment for the weekend was literally meters away from the castle entrance and there were no restrictions whatsoever on the access times. The ground floor of the ruin is currently used for storage but work-in-progress can clearly be noticed. The stairwell is very narrow and gives access to 3 floors and the roof. Our investigations mainly consisted of EVP and EMF readings with the latter giving some very interesting results. It must be noted that power lines run through the ruin but power was cut to these lines during our stay so we can safely remove this as a cause of electrical interference.
Killiane Castle dates from the 15th century and farmhouse from the 1600’s. The name ‘Killiane’ derives from ‘Cill Liadhaine’, the church of St.Leonard, which still stands on the grounds today. The first recorded owner of the land was Richard de Hay in the 13th century who came to Ireland during the first Norman invasion. On the land stands the impressive, 50ft high, Norman tower house. The walls of this tower measure 4ft to 9ft thick in places! The tower was built c.1470 with a grant of £10 offered by King Henry VIII to anyone willing to build a fortress in his kingdom.
c.1520, the land passed to the Cheevers family by way of marriage. In 1543 the land was in possession of the mayor of Wexford, Howard Cheevers and the 2,000 acre site remained in the family for a further 100 years. The house was built in the early 17th century.
In 1641 George Cheevers was dispossessed of the land following the sacking of Wexford by Oliver Cromwell. The Cheevers were sent to Connaught but some few remained as tenants, the last of the them an old man who died in 1849.
In 1656 the property and 1500 acres was granted to one of Cromwell’s soldiers, a Col. Bunbury, in lieu of pay. He sold it on to his friends, the Harveys of Lyme Regis. The first of these, Francis Harvey, became MP for Clonmines and Mayor of Wexford, positions his son John also held.
In 1908 the property was sold to the Crown Solicitor Kennan Cooper for £1515. Cooper, a renowned character, kept racehorses and the 1911 census shows Killiane occupied by his tenant, George Grant and family, and Grant’s occupation is given as ‘Horse trainer/jockey’.
Killiane Castle Today
In 1920 John Mernagh, father of Jack the present owner, bought Killiane with 230 acres for £2000. At that time there was no roof on the tower-house, which was covered in ivy. John re-roofed it and used it to store grain and potatoes.
The present castle and surrounding walls bear testimony to the building genius of the Normans, over 500 years old and quite sound!
The castle contains only one original window that dates from the 15th century! All the others having been replaced over the years. The original window is an ogee style window featuring two lights. The main entrance to the castle was on the east side, now bricked up, it provided an adjoining door to the house at one time. A new door has been opened on the south side of the tower.
Today the castle is home to Jack & Kathleen Mernagh who run the guesthouse along with their son Paul who returned in 2014; he is a qualified and extensively experienced hotel manager with superior hotel properties from around the world.