Ashtown Castle In The Visitor Centre

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I recently spent an entire day in the area surrounding the visitor centre in the Phoenix Park. A friend had just lent me a rather beautiful medium format camera and I thought I would test it out in one of my more familiar spots.

Today’s post has absolutely nothing to do with that day or that particular camera, it does however have plenty to do with the castle you can see in the photograph.

I happened to go back to the visitor centre about two days later with my three year old son with the intention of having a bit of skit in the little maze that almost surrounds the castle. Adventurous is not the word, it totally lashed down as soon as I opened the door of the car. How do you explain to a three year old that we have to go home when he is telling me we can just go into the museum, it took me a few minutes and then I copped on that he was talking about the actual visitor centre. So up with our hoods and off we ran [well I ran, he was on my back]. I must say I have always thought the staff in the visitor centre were so pleasant, especially when you are dealing with a screaming / running three year old boy, they never tell you to keep quiet and they really seem to understand that kids need to make a little bit of noise from time to time.

On this particular day I just happened to be browsing through some of their publications on the park and I asked one of the members of staff when would be the best time to come and do a tour of Ashtown Castle [that’s the little castle in the photo]. He informed me that it’s pretty much open all the time but only for groups of three or more, well there was really only one and a half of us so I inquired if there was any particular busy period when it would be worth dropping over. I have always wanted to see inside it and never noticed that it was actually open to the public until this particular day. He said it was pretty much a case of pot luck and before I had time to reach the door he called me back and asked me if I was interested in seeing it, I didn’t want to be smart but that was why I was asking. Next thing he picks up the biggest key I have ever seen and casually asks me if I want to nip over now and have a ramble around. I was actually just about to go home and have lunch but scrapped that plan immediately and said “Hell yes my good friend”, I didn’t actually, I just said yes thank you sir.

This story is beginning to get rather long so lets speed things up a little bit. He brought us over to the castle and we spent at least an hour walking around it as he imparted his highly detailed knowledge on to me. He also had amazing patience with my son, who obviously wasn’t getting a much of a buzz from touring a restored medieval castle as I was. So, thank you Roy, if by any mad chance you are actually reading this and thank you OPW for providing such an amazing service.

I should also apologise to the staff as well, I’ll explain. Where we were entering the castle Roy had this rather odd looking metal instrument along with the giant key, after trying the key a few times he sighed and damned those pesky kids for constantly putting pebbles into the gigantic lock. He then used this odd looking hook apparatus to pick out the small stones and proceeded to unlock the door. Little did he know only ten minutes before hand we had been trying to fit stones into the very same lock, I have no idea if we were successful but I decided not to mention that particular fact, I simply added a nod of my head and agreed that some people just had no control over their kids.

Taken on a Zenza Bronica SQ-A 120mm film camera using Kodak Tri-x 400
Printed by my very own hands in a darkroom

(Comments and opinions are greatly appreciated, please feel free to let me know what you think)

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