A Brief History

There has been a castle at Lismore ever since 1185 when PrinceJohn built a "castellum" on the present site.
When John became King of England he handed the Castle over to the Church and it was used as aBishop's Palace until 1589. The earliest remaining part of the Castle is a round tower, which dates back to the 13th Century. 

In 1589 the Castle was leased and later bought outright by SirWalter Raleigh. In 1602, when Raleigh was imprisoned in the Tower of London for high treason, he sold Lismore along with 42,000 acres for £1,500 to Richard Boyle, who later became the first Earl of Cork. Richard Boyle's youngest son,Robert Boyle, the philosopher and father of modern chemistry, was born at Lismore in 1626.

In 1753 the Castle and its lands passed to the fourth Duke of Devonshire following his marriage in 1748 to Lady Charlotte Boyle, the only surviving daughter and heiress of the fourth Earl of Cork (1695-1753).

The sixth Duke (1790-1858), known as the bachelor Duke, undertook the most extensive restoration of the Castle. He was a patron of Dickens,Thackeray and, most importantly, Joseph Paxton and Augustus Pugin, who both played a leading part between 1840 and 1858 in creating Lismore Castle as it is today.

Adele Astaire, Fred Astaire's sister -and indeed his original dance partner - married Lord Charles Cavendish, second son of the 9th Duke, and lived in the Castle between 1932 and 1944. When her husband died she returned to America but continued to visit Lismore each summer, during which time Fred Astaire was a frequent visitor.  William Cavendish, heir apparent to the 10th Dukedom,was married to Kathleen Kennedy, sister of President John F. Kennedy, and was killed in active service in 1944. Kathleen spent a lot of time at Lismore and held a house party here in 1947. One of her guests was her brother, John F.Kennedy and it was during this visit that he made his way to Duncanstown Co Wexford and located his ancestral home.

The Castle has been lovingly and extensively restored and upgraded by the successive Dukes but the historic charm remains intact.
Since 1981, the castle has been available to rent on an exclusive hire basis by private groups. Guests enjoy all the splendour and privacy of living in a Castle and are looked after by the Duke’s own personal staff.

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