Location writing for THEY SHUT ME UP or: We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Part 2)
The first time I saw Lemenagh Castle, I was transfixed. It was a sunny day in 2018. I’d stopped in the hamlet of Killinaboy to marvel at the síle-na-gig there, opening up her stone womb above the church door.
And then, a few hundred metres up the road- this wonder. Lemenagh. Lemeneagh. Leameneh. The castle of variant spellings, perched up on a hill above the crossroads – one road stretching back to Ennis, the other to the crosses of Kilfenora, the ancient matchmaking festival town of Lisdoonvara, the other to the magical, lunar landscape of the Burren. The crossroads in Irish culture is a threshold place; many stories of the fae are set there, especially at the liminal times of dawn and dusk. A fitting place for a strange castle.
Lemanagh is a marriage of two architectural entities; a 15th century tower house and a 17th century palatial mansion. Its tall, roofless walls are dotted with windows, impressive and unusually large, looking down over the landscape. Staring up, I was reminded of Poe’s description of the House of Usher
‘I looked upon the scene before me—upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain--upon the bleak walls—upon the vacant eye-like windows—'
Inside, green walls soar overhead, pocked with marks of other times; an indication of a fireplace here, a doorway there. From the windows, a view of the ribbons of roads, the slopes of the landscape. It’s glassy cool there, even in summer. That was why I shivered, I told myself.
Later, when I looked up the lore of the place, I understood the full implication of that shiver. This castle is the locus for endless stories; most of them dark and frightening. There are historical tales of a woman who would not be subdued, stories of love and pain, perceptions of treachery—and all of these wrapped in local lore, cautionary tales about the place and the woman at the centre of it.
Who was she?
I’ll reveal more tomorrow in the final blog in this series. Let’s just say I’ve waited a long time to revoice her story.
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