Has the royal wedding got you thinking you might like to get married in a castle? Look just across the pond to Kilkea Castle, just an hour outside of Dublin, Ireland. One of the oldest inhabited castles in Ireland, the medieval fortress and estate has undergone a five year, €30-million renovation and restoration after it was purchased by Boston-based construction mogul Jay Cashman and his actress wife Christy Scott Cashman. Not only is it an idyllic place to host a destination wedding, but the story of how Christy and Jay rebuilt their royal project was its own labor of love. Here, she shares her insights about how they fell in love with each other and Kilkea Castle.
Tell us about your love story.
Jay and I met in New York through a mutual friend. We had gone on a few dates and I told him I was heading to Ireland for a horseback riding trip with a group of friends. He’s half Irish and had never been to Ireland. He sort of invited himself along. I realized we were in love when we were driving around the countryside.We just knew as we were experiencing Ireland together that we were meant to be together.
How did you discover with Kilkea Castle?
I would go out riding every day and Jay said he was going to look for a castle to buy. I thought he was joking. We fell in love with Kilkea Castle the moment we drove through the gates and down the long driveway. Inside, it was a little bit of a different story. Jay definitely saw the bones of the building and could tell it was worth the effort.
How was the renovation/restoration?
Once we started the renovation, every time we went back, there was something exciting to see. It took a long time to gut the building while keeping the historic quality of it intact. The castle is from the 12th century and we fully refurnished it in an intriguing mélange of medieval décor and modern chic. In addition to the eleven guest rooms, Kilkea has a luxurious Drawing Room, perfect for afternoon tea, a grand Dining Room for sumptuous meals and gatherings, an authentic Irish Pub and the Castle Lounge, just the spot to relax while sipping an Irish whiskey or a Guinness next to the roaring fire. The Fitzgerald Suite features sweeping vistas of the landscape that encompasses the estate. In the courtyard, the former Carriage House and stables have been converted into 24 lovely bedrooms and suites, showcasing original features such as bespoke wrought iron and exposed wooden beams.
What was it like to work together on this venture?
Owning and renovating Kilkea Castle has been a very exciting and unexpected adventure in our lives. It’s been an exciting new journey that has really added an entirely new dimension and aspect to our lives and family.
If you like golf, Kilkea Castle’s new clubhouse proudly overlooks the 9th hole of its private golf course with the majestic castle visible just beyond. The 18 hole, par 70 parkway course features the River Greese as a natural hazard flowing throughout with two different lakes included in the design. Additional offerings include a driving range, practice putting green, fully stocked golf shop and, overlooking the course, three-bedroom, self-catering lodges are available, perfect for families or a group of avid golfers. In addition to golf, Kilkea Castle hosts a variety of pursuits and pleasures including tennis, archery, falconry, skeet shooting, horseback riding, hiking, swimming, tubing, cycling, fishing, birdwatching, and a variety of tailored spa treatments.
What about dining at the Castle?
Do you believe in fairy tales and happily ever after?
I don’t know if I believe in fairy tales but I definitely believe in the notion that the planet has certain energies to which our bodies respond. I think these energies are what make us feel at home at a place we may never have had any prior connection.— Stacey Marcus
Stacey Marcus is a Boston-based freelance lifestyle writer, publicist and content strategist. Her work has appeared in Boston magazine, Boston Common, Bride & Groom Magazine, Destination I Do, Modern Luxury Weddings Boston and Chicago, Ocean Home and playboy.com among others. A former senior editor at New England Bride Magazine, Stacey is also a publicist for non-profit organizations and small businesses. She is the author of a children’s book, A Bed for Every Bear: Tuck’s Tale. Stacey enjoys writing about travel, trends, and romance.