A claimant to the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Ireland & The Wizard Earl

Kilkea Castle was built in 1426 and is a claimant of the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Ireland (as does Malahide Castle). This was originally a motte and bailey castle built by Sir Walter de Riddlesford in 1181. His granddaughter married Maurice Fitzgerald, and so the Manor of Kilkea then came into the possession of the powerful Fitzgerald family. It remained in their possession for over 700 years until the 19th Earl of Kildare decided to make Carton House the family seat early in the 18th century. A famous story of the castle tells of the ‘The Wizard Earl’ who lived here in the 16th century. He was a colorful character who was fond of dabbling in magic tried. He tried to convince his wife of his powers and said he could turn her into a bird. He said if she got startled he would disappear forever. As promised, The Earl turned into a bird and his wife showed indifference until a cat wandered in and sprang for the bird. The wife screamed and The Wizard Earl disappeared forever but it is said that he returns a ghost to the same room every seven years on a white horse! The castle and estate were finally sold by the Fitzgerald family in the early 1960s but is now run as a golf course and hotel.