One relic of Tullamore's former splendor is found on the southwestern edge of town, where, if you take the road heading to Birr from the center of Tullamore, you'll find a storybook vision in splendid Tin Soldier Fortress style: Charleville Forest Castle. Perhaps the finest Neo-Gothic, British-style 19th-century castle in Ireland, its Flag Tower and turrets rise above its domain of 30 acres of woodland walks and gardens. The Georgian–Gothic Revival house was built as a symbol of English might triumphing over French force (the French revolutionary forces, to be exact, who had become a little too cozy with the Irish locals). In fact, the floor plan is even modeled on the Union Jack. Commissioned by Baron Tullamore and dating from 1812, the castle is a rural example of the work of architect Francis Johnston, who was responsible for many of Dublin's stately Georgian buildings. The interiors are somewhat the worse for wear—most are gigantic chambers with a few sticks of furniture—but
the William Morris–designed dining room still has its original stenciled wallpaper.
Descended through the Bury family, who eventually lost their fortune and left no heirs, the castle became an orphan in the 1960s and is being slowly restored. Some parts of the building, such as the cantilevered oak staircase and the adjoining chapel, are in need of extensive repairs. Fund-raisers include open-air festivals on the grounds. The surrounding forest is said to be haunted by the spirits of the ancient Druids. Guided tours leave every 40 minutes in the summer between 1 and 5 pm.
Tullamore, Co. Offaly, Ireland