Have you ever slept in history? I’m not talking about history class. I’m talking about a place that holds life, that holds the vestiges of people from hundreds of years ago who lived absolutely different than you, who could not imagine the world as it is today. I have. I’ve stayed the night in a castle, Caher Castle, on my recent trip to Ireland and it was one of the best experiences I have ever had.
First, let’s begin by saying this castle is over 600 years old. Yes, it was built in the 1400’s. Jaw drop moment. Caher Castle is not the oldest castle in Ireland that you can book a night at, some date back to the 12th century, however, it is unique in that you have the entire place to yourself during the time that you book.
At just about $140.00 per night (as of now on Airbnb.com and based off the current exchange rate), you get an entire 15th century castle to yourself. Yes, you read that correctly: $140.00. You can get a mid to low-rate hotel in Los Angeles for $140.00 a night. I choose the castle.
I thought I’d share with you my unforgettable experience staying in Caher Castle and maybe one day you can have the grand experience of staying there too.
The day I arrived, I showed up little early and was greeted by Eva since Peter was in town at work. She showed me up the winding staircase to the rooms. Keep in mind that if you do visit Caher Castle, you must be able to walk up a flight of steps that are very narrow and cover about four floors. And trust me, it’s worth it. I was grinning as I walked up the winding staircase because it was my first experience in the castle and this was the reality for people six hundred years ago.
Eva began by showing me the bedroom so that I could set my belongings down. The bedroom was on the top floor and was occupied by a bed, a fireplace, chairs in front of the fireplace, and a few small tables, and chests.
She then walked me down one flight of stairs to the living room and bathroom area. The living room was filled with couches, arm chairs, a hammock chair that hung from the ceiling, a kitchen area, a computer, a wall full of DVDs, guides and information about Ireland, a bathroom complete with a sink and toilet, a bathtub, and a fire stove.
Eva and I chatted for a bit about our love of traveling and our struggle with new languages. She showed me the ledge where they encouraged guests to chisel their names into the stone and the guest book that I would write my name and well wishes in the next morning. After a bit, she left and I was on my own.
It was still light outside so I decided to explore the castle’s surroundings before it got dark. I first made my way to the roof of the castle. Yes, the roof. A few steps up from the bedroom was a small door that led to the roof, or what could be described as the roof.
After banging my head on the top of the door, I stepped outside. Have you ever seen a movie with a medieval battle scene that occurs at a castle? Do you know where the archer stands, in that small walk space between the outer wall of the tower and the inner wall? That’s about as best as I can describe where I stood.
I was able to look at the surrounding lands of the castle and imagine myself as a lookout, ready to call the castle to its feet to defend the keep. I stood there for a minute just looking beyond at the beautiful land of Ireland… and then I looked down and discovered that Ireland has a real spider problem… What an awesome design by Eva and Peter, right?
After I left the roof, I decided to explore the castle grounds which was a circular field surrounded by a creek, although to me, it was a magical wonderland. I didn’t want to leave the field. Everything about it was magical. The moss! Who knew there were so many types of moss and that moss can be described as beautiful? The contrast of different shades of green, the multiple types of trees, thorny ivy, a stone wall—I was fascinated by it all.
The daffodils had been planted in lines and the trees created tunnels that sent me back to a place where time stopped and anything might appear through the branches of the trees. I just wanted to curl up in the nooks and crannies of old craggy trees that seemed to require respect and dignity.
I don’t think I’ve just explored nature in a very long time. I’ll go on hikes and, yes, I admire the nature around me but I don’t usually stop and explore it. And I’m usually surrounded by other people on their hikes as well. But there in that field, I was alone. And it was silent. No cars, no planes flying overhead, no car exhaust, just the smell of the earth. It was perfect.
After an hour or so of just walking around I headed back into the castle to settle into its historical stone embrace.
Peter returned from work and it was great to chat with him. He truly loves Caher Castle which is obvious from the amount of work he has put into it. He installed everything and has kept up with the renovations. As an artist and an avid lover of all thing history, I’m glad that Peter came into possession of the castle because it deserves someone’s attention who cares for its history and its beauty and Peter and Eva have taken such great care of it.
Peter left and I decided to eat dinner. I hadn’t eaten since that morning and I was starving. Thankfully, Eva and Peter had stocked the cabinets and fridge with some things for guests to eat which was a delight since I really didn’t want to return to town that evening. I found a potato and some soup and, bam, I made my mother’s Homestyle fries, complete with veggie butter, in this cool kitchen that closed with double doors. Needless to say it was a delicious dinner that I devoured on the comfortable couch in front of the stove fire. Oh, and did I mention that I coupled my dinner with a cup of chamomile tea heated in a coffee pot by the stove fire?
After washing my dishes I decided to take a bath. When’s the last time I took a bath? Since castles were not equipped to house our modern day plumbing, Peter had to get creative with the indoor plumbing. Now, no worries, there is an indoor toilet and it looks and works just like any normal toilet I’ve used in the Western world. Same went for the sink.
So back to the bath…it’s under the floor boards. And although it took a little bit of time to fill, time I used to put on Date Night on the computer that doubled as a DVD player, it was finally full and the water was hot! I sat in the huge tub and relaxed for about an hour. Pure relaxation.
The rest of my evening was spent sitting in front of the fire to allow my hair to dry, finishing the movie, and drinking a few more cups of tea and maybe eating some crackers and Irish bread and butter.
After skyping with my parents at the window which was the only place that I got Wi-Fi (it’s a castle, what do you expect?), I left the living room and headed upstairs to the bedroom. This was probably the scariest part of my night in the castle because I was subject to the darkness and quiet that accompanies a castle.
Sometime during the evening I must have shut off the lights that lit the staircase because when I headed up the stairs, everything was dark. I had to use my phone to light my path like a person in the 1400s would have used a candle. It was so dark and so cold in the staircase that I did fear rounding the corner of the spiral staircase and coming face to face with a ghost, but luckily, I did not.
I finally made it to the bedroom and hurried in. I had already turned on the electric blanket so I hoped the bed would be nice and toasty because the room was chilly. Castles are not made for great insulation but that’s what makes it authentic! I started a fire in the fireplace, too. On my way back to the bed, I looked out the window and saw something that I don’t see living in a big city like Los Angeles. Miles and miles of darkness in all directions. What was out there? A trickster fairy looking up at me from beneath a tree? A ghost in the pasture? I kind of freaked myself out so I turned off the lights and jumped in the bed with the aid of the fire light.
If you hate the cold like I do, don’t worry about it when staying in Caher Castle because there were like five comforters on the bed and they were so warm! I didn’t feel one bite of cold all night in that comfortable bed. However, I did wake up in the middle of the night to the howling of the wind which was pretty loud, but being from Tornado Alley, it wasn’t a sound that I wasn’t used to on a spring night in Texas so I was able to go back to sleep quite easily. I believe there was a mild rain storm that evening.
The next morning I woke up later than I had planned but I didn’t mind. It was the best night of sleep that I got on my entire trip to Ireland. I rolled over and saw that the fire had burned out in the middle of the night. Something I didn’t mention before, above the fireplace at the top of the wall were two very small square windows. The night before I had looked at them warily. What if a face popped up in one of those little windows? That morning I did see in a face in one of those windows! However, it was only stone faces with something between a grimace and a smile, a joke that I assumed Peter had included when he renovated the castle. I thought it was funny.
When I made my way downstairs to the living room, I found a stove fire lit by Peter that early morning so the room was nice and toasty. Peter came for a chat a little bit later while I had some hot tea. After he left, I tidied up and got ready to leave much to my disappointment. Why had I not booked more than one night at the castle?
It really was the loveliest time. I relaxed more so than I usually do in my own apartment. Was it the comfy couch and comforter-piled bed? The nostalgia for old times that the stove fire and a cup o’ tea brought me? The simple but delicious meal? The stone walls that transported my imagination to 600 years ago? It was probably a combination of those things and for anyone looking for a retreat to write, relax, rejuvenate, or to reconnect with a loved one, Caher Castle is your place because it is only you and the castle and peace.
Before I left for Galway that morning I had one more castle experience. Peter and Eva let me try my hand at archery. Archery and a castle! Although I am not very good at shooting a bow and arrow (I almost hit my rental car and a bird that flew by), I can now say that I’ve shot a bow and arrow and if ever I am transported back to medieval times, perhaps, I will be able to survive for a day or two. At least, I know I’ll fit comfortably in the castle lifestyle.
If you are interested in renting Caher Castle for a night or two, please feel free to follow the link to their page on Airbnb: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/658697
If you do not have an Airbnb account, please use my link to sign up so that you can get $25 off of your first Airbnb rental: www.airbnb.com/c/atemblador?s=8
(NOTE: I was not paid or even asked to write this blog post. If I really like a place, I’m going to suggest it to others. The intent of this blog was mostly to share my experience staying at a castle. Thank you.)