Visit the Ferns Castle Ruins in Southeast Ireland

Ferns Castle is in the town of Ferns, County Wexford, in Ireland's Southeast Region. The original castle was a square structure around a courtyard and four-story corner towers.

Ferns-Castle© Patricia McKinney-Lins
Ferns-Castle-Inner© Patricia McKinney-Lins

Part of one wall remains which contains windows and arrow slots.

The southeast tower is still standing and has a beautiful circular chapel, a reception room, a bedchamber and several fireplaces in it.

You can climb to the high roof of the southeast tower to experience the view of the town.

ferns-castle-view© Patricia McKinney-Lins

The southwest tower has an interesting cellar carved out of rock. One legend says that the owner of the castle kept his daughter, Kathleen, in the cellar to keep her from eloping. I hope it's not true.

A moat that enclosed the castle is partially visible and the remains of a gatehouse and drawbridge are located near the southwest tower.

The original structure at Ferns Castle was built in the 1200s by Earl William Marshal the younger on the site of the fort of the Kings of Leinster. According to Mike Salter, in The Castles of Leinster, the existing building was probably held by William de Valance, husband of a Marshal heiress.

Ferns-Castle-chapel© Patricia McKinney-Lins
Ferns-Castle-tourguide© Patricia McKinney-Lins

According to Mr. Salter's book, the castle was taken by the O'Tooles in 1331, retaken by Bishop Charnell, taken by the Kavanagh MacMurroughs in 1360, by Lord Deputy Grey during the rebellion of 1536, and taken by John Travers for the English crown in 1550. The Mastersons held the castle from 1583 until ultimately, the castle was largely destroyed by and surrendered to Cromwell's general, Sir Charles Coote, in 1649.

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The castle was purchased by Thomas Kiernan in 1660 and the Donovans owned the ruin until it was turned over to the state for preservation.

When you visit Ferns Castle, you will want to view the castle history exhibition in the Visitor's Center and have a snack in the tearoom. The women of the town have made beautiful framed tapestries depicting the history of the castle and the town. Some of the tapestries took years to finish. Picture postcards of the scenes are also for sale. The staff at the visitor center, including the tourguides, are wonderful.

Ferns-Castle-Visitor-Center© Patricia McKinney-Lins
Ferns-Castle-Visitor-Center-seating© Patricia McKinney-Lins

Other sites in the town of Ferns include St. Mary's, a 12th century Augustinian Priory, the remains of a 13th century cathedral, and St. Peter's. For more information, go to the Heritage Ireland website.

Church-of-Ireland-ferns© Patricia McKinney-Lins
Ferns- Ireland-Church-cross© Patricia McKinney-Lins
Ferns-Castle-roadsign© Patricia McKinney-Lins

Here is a map of the area near Ferns Castle:

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