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Lismore - National Heritage Town

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Lismore (Lios Mór in Irish, meaning "Great Enclosure") is a town in County Waterford, Ireland. It was founded by Saint Mochuda, also known as Saint Carthage.

Lismore is located where the N72 road crosses the River Blackwater. In the 7th century, Lismore was home to a well-known abbey.

There is a famous and spectactular castle in the town, that guards the bridge over the Blackwater river. In the castle a medieval manuscript, the Book of Lismore (now in England – the owner of the castle is an Englishman, the Duke Of Devonshire), and the Lismore Crozier (now in the National Museum of Ireland) were discovered in the 19th Century. The castle is still a privately owned residence and is not open to teh public, but the beatiful gardens are.

Previous residents of the castle also include The Great Earl of Cork, Richard Boyle and his son Robert Boyle , alchemist, chemist and famous for his 'Boyle's law'. Robert Boyle has also come into prominance recently for it is said that he was also a Grandmaster of the Priory of Sion, a secretive society described in the book "The Da Vinci Code".

The history of Lismore castle
There has been a castle at Lismore ever since 1185 when Prince John 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 a Bishop'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 Sir Walter 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.

Much of the present Castle dates back to the time of the first Earl of Cork and his coat of arms may still be seen above the main entrance gate.
Lismore was considerably involved in the Cromwellian wars and, in 1645, a force of Catholic confederacy commanded by Lord Castlehaven sacked the town and Castle. Some restoration was carried out by the second Earl of Cork (1612-1694) but from then until 1800 very little was done to the Castle by its owners.

James II stayed at Lismore Castle after the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 and on his way from Dublin to Kinsale from whence he fled to France.

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 (1801-1868) who joined the Duke's establishment as under gardener in 1823 and became his friend and consultant in many spheres. Botanist, inventor, engineer, architect, town planner, and railway promoter, Joseph Paxton not only designed the Crystal Palace for the London exhibition of 1851, he also organised the army works and served in the Crimean war, and became a Liberal member of Parliament. Tsar Nicholas 1st of Russia knighted him in 1844 and he was later knighted by Queen Victoria in 1851. It was he who played a leading part between 1840 and 1858 in creating Lismore Castle as it is today.
Adele Astaire, Fred Astaire's sister, married Lord Charles Cavendish and lived in the Castle between 1932 and 1944. When her husband died she returned to America but continued to visit Lismore for a month each summer, during which time Fred Astaire was a frequent visitor.

 

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