28 Jun 2013

Built on Rock´n´Roll: Slane Castle, Co. Meath

Slane Castle is one of Ireland's finest stately homes with a colourful history. It sits on the banks of the river Boyne, in County Meath, only a stone throw away from Brú na Bóinne, the ancient megalithic site of Newgrange. Every summer the castle grounds are transformed into one of the biggest and wildest concerts venues in the country.

 


(runterscrollen für deutsche Version!)


The castle in its present form was built in 1785 for the 1st Marquess Conyngham. The Conyngham family, originally a Scottish Protestant family, still owns the castle today. The Conynghams first came to Ireland in 1611 during the Plantation of Ulster, where they acquired extensive lands in Mountcharles and The Rosses District in Co. Donegal. They purchased the Slane estate in 1701 after the Williamite Confiscation and settled in Co. Meath.  
A few years earlier, in 1690 and only a few kilometres downstream from Slane, members of the Conyngham family fought in the Battle of the Boyne, oddly enough on both sides - the Williamites and the Jacobites. 


Back entrance

Before the Confiscation the estate belonged to the Fleming family, Barons of Slane, an Anglo-Norman family, who came to Ireland in 1172. They fought alongside Hugh de Lacy, who in turn gave them peerage and lands in Slane. There are remains of an old 12th century moat and bailey castle on the west side of the Hill of Slane.

The remains of the moat and bailey on the nearby Hill of Slane

The Hill of Slane with the old Abbey
In the 19th century the castle provided the scene for a famous historical romance. The King of England no less, King George IV fell for Lady Elizabeth Conyngham. The king had a string of mistresses, but Elizabeth was his last one, the liaison lasted for over ten years until the monarch's death. It is said that the road from Dublin to Slane, one of the straightest roads in Ireland (go on, you know you want to look it up on a map!), has been especially constructed this way so the King would get to Elizabeth faster.
No word on how her husband, the Viscount Conyngham, felt about the affair, but we know that he and his family benefited from the royal relationship. The Viscount actually rose to the rank of a Marquess during that time.


Slane Castle

Walk up to the castle
The modern castle is said to be built on Rock`n`Roll. The current owner, the 8th Marquess Conyngham, also known as Henry Mountcharles, is a big music fan - he is often referred to as the "Rock`n`Roll aristocrat" (although his title isn't acknowledged in Ireland, by the way). 
He started organising Open Air concerts on the castle grounds in 1981, since then the legendary Rock concerts take place almost every summer and have become an integral part of Ireland's Music Festivals. Bands that played in Slane include Thin Lizzy, U2, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Rolling Stones, Santana, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Faith No More, Pearl Jam, Oasis, REM, The Prodigy, Foo Fighters, Iggy Pop, Kings Of Leon and many, many more.

The grounds where the concerts take place every summer


In 1984 U2 recorded their album "The Unforgettable Fire" in the castle and the video for "Pride" was filmed in the gothic style ballroom (which was especially designed for George IV's State visit in 1821).
Only seven years later a real "unforgettable fire" broke out in the east wing and almost destroyed the castle. The renovations took ten years, in 2001 the castle re-opened to the public for guided tours.


In 2009 the Conynghams launched their latest venture - their own brand of "Slane Castle" Irish Whiskey. You can sample it when you take the tour of the castle. The tour is really interesting, very informative yet informal, with all kinds of Rock`n`Roll memorabilia in the hallways and gossipy stories of the aristocratic way of live in the 18th and 19th century. 
Treat yourself to a tour of the Rock`n`Roll castle when you happen to be in  the beautiful village of Slane!
If you don't want to wait that long, have a look at their website:

lane Castle in Ireland has been my family‘s home since 1701. Slane is steeped in history and with the river Boyne flowing below the Castle, it has a mystical quality. The Hill of Slane, which overlooks the Castle, is where St. Patrick lit his paschal fire, following which he was summoned by the High King to Tara, and Ireland was subsequently converted to Christianity. Nearby is Newgrange, one of the earliest and most significant and dramatic structures in Western Europe. The historic Battle of the Boyne was fought just downriver. My family fought on both sides.
The Castle itself is one of the most exciting historic buildings on the island and displays the collective talents of some of Ireland and England’s most distinguished architects. The parklands were laid out by the distinguished landscape architect, Capability Brown.
The Castle was also a settling for a famous historical romance between King George IV of England and my great, great, great, great grandmother, Elizabeth, the first Marchioness Conyngham. The King stayed in the Castle in 1821 and it is believed that the reason the road from Dublin to Slane is one of the straightest roads in Ireland is because it was so designed to speed him on his journey. He dined in the spectacular Gothic Revival Ballroom and the bedroom he slept in is known as the King’s Room to this day.
In the last quarter of a century, music has become central to the tradition of Slane. For years it has played host to the Festival in Great Irish Houses, but it is for the fabulous open air Rock Concerts in the great natural amphitheatre below the Castle that it has become internationally renowned. Act such as U2, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Guns ‘N Roses, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, David Bowie, Queen and REM have performed in Slane. U2, uniquely, have performed three times at the venue – playing support to the renowned Irish band, Thin Lizzy, who headlined Slane with their charismatic singer, Phil Lynott at the first show in 1981.
In 1984 the band lived in the Castle while they were recording THE UNFORGETTABLE FIRE. The Drawing Room was converted into a recording studio and one of the videos for PRIDE was filmed in the unique Gothic Revival Ballroom which was created for George IV’s State Visit in 1821. It was all part of the special musical journey of the Castle.
Managed by Slane Castle Ltd, on behalf of the eighth Marquess Conyngham.
- See more at: http://www.slanecastle.ie/castle/castle_history.php#sthash.2jZ50ymw.dpuf
Open for Tours!

lane Castle in Ireland has been my family‘s home since 1701. Slane is steeped in history and with the river Boyne flowing below the Castle, it has a mystical quality. The Hill of Slane, which overlooks the Castle, is where St. Patrick lit his paschal fire, following which he was summoned by the High King to Tara, and Ireland was subsequently converted to Christianity. Nearby is Newgrange, one of the earliest and most significant and dramatic structures in Western Europe. The historic Battle of the Boyne was fought just downriver. My family fought on both sides.
The Castle itself is one of the most exciting historic buildings on the island and displays the collective talents of some of Ireland and England’s most distinguished architects. The parklands were laid out by the distinguished landscape architect, Capability Brown.
The Castle was also a settling for a famous historical romance between King George IV of England and my great, great, great, great grandmother, Elizabeth, the first Marchioness Conyngham. The King stayed in the Castle in 1821 and it is believed that the reason the road from Dublin to Slane is one of the straightest roads in Ireland is because it was so designed to speed him on his journey. He dined in the spectacular Gothic Revival Ballroom and the bedroom he slept in is known as the King’s Room to this day.
In the last quarter of a century, music has become central to the tradition of Slane. For years it has played host to the Festival in Great Irish Houses, but it is for the fabulous open air Rock Concerts in the great natural amphitheatre below the Castle that it has become internationally renowned. Act such as U2, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Guns ‘N Roses, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, David Bowie, Queen and REM have performed in Slane. U2, uniquely, have performed three times at the venue – playing support to the renowned Irish band, Thin Lizzy, who headlined Slane with their charismatic singer, Phil Lynott at the first show in 1981.
In 1984 the band lived in the Castle while they were recording THE UNFORGETTABLE FIRE. The Drawing Room was converted into a recording studio and one of the videos for PRIDE was filmed in the unique Gothic Revival Ballroom which was created for George IV’s State Visit in 1821. It was all part of the special musical journey of the Castle.
Managed by Slane Castle Ltd, on behalf of the eighth Marquess Conyngham.
- See more at: http://www.slanecastle.ie/castle/castle_history.php#sthash.2jZ50ymw.dpuf

Das Schloß in Slane ist eines der schönsten Herrschaftshäuser in Irland mit einer sehr bunten Vergangenheit. Es liegt am Ufer des Flusses Boyne in der Grafschaft Meath, nur einen Katzensprung von Brú na Bóinne, der megalithischen Anlage Newgrange entfernt. Jeden Sommer verwandelt sich der Schloßgarten in einen der größten und wildesten Konzert Plätze des Landes.

 



Das Schloß in seiner heutigen Form wurde 1785 für den ersten Marquess Conyngham erbaut. Die Conynghams sind ursprünglich eine schottisch-protestantische Familie, das Schloß ist noch heute in ihrem Besitz. Sie kamen 1611 während der Besiedelung von Ulster nach Irland, wo sie große Ländereien in Mountcharles und The Rosses in der Grafschaft Donegal erwarben. Im Jahr 1701 nach der Konfiszierung irisch-katholischer Ländereien durch William III,  kauften sie den Besitz in Slane und ließen sich in der Grafschaft Meath nieder.
Einige Jahre zuvor und nur ein paar Kilometer flußabwärts, kämpften Mitglieder der Conyngham Familie in der berühmten Schlacht am Boyne - kurioserweise auf beiden Seiten - den Anhängern von William III of Orange und den Jakobitern von James II.

The river Boyne

Vor der Konfiszierung durch William III gehörten die Ländereien der Familie Fleming, Barone von Slane, eine Anglo-Normannische Familie, die 1172 nach Irland kam. Sie kämpften an der Seite Hugh de Lacys, der ihnen dafür Titel und Ländereien in Slane übertrug. Die Überreste eines alten Burggrabens kann man noch an der Westseite des Hügels von Slane erkennen, wo einst ihre Burg stand.



Im 19. Jahrhundert spielte sich hinter den Mauern des Schloßes eine berühmte historische Romanze ab. Niemand geringerer als der König von England, Georg IV verliebte sich in Lady Elizabeth Conyngham. Der König hatte eine Reihe von Geliebten, aber Elizabeth war seine letzte, die Laision dauerte über zehn Jahre, bis zum Tod der Monarchen. Es wird erzählt, daß die Straße von Dublin nach Slane, eine der geradlinigsten Straßen des Landes (nur zu, schaut es euch auf einer Karte an!), absichtlich so gebaut wurde, damit der König schneller zu Elizabeth gelangen konnte.
Es ist nicht überliefert, was der  Viscount Conyngham, Elizabeths Ehemann, von der Affaire hielt, aber wir wissen, daß er und seine Familie von der Beziehung zum König nur profitiert haben - der Viscount wurde während dieser Zeit in den Stand eines Marquess erhoben.


Das heutige Schloß wurde auf Rock`n`Roll gebaut, heißt es. Der momentane Besitzer, der achte Marquess Conyngham, auch bekannt als Henry Mountcharles, ist ein großer Musik Fan - er wird oft als der "Rock`n`Roll Aristokrat" bezeichnet (obwohl sein Titel in Irland übrigens nicht rechtlich anerkannt wird). 
Im Jahr 1981 begann er damit Open Air Konzerte im Schloßpark zu organisieren, seitdem finden die legendären Konzerte fast jeden Sommer statt und sind ein integraler Bestandteil der irischen Musik Festivals geworden. Die Bands, die in Slane gespielt haben können sich sehen lassen: Thin Lizzy, U2, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Rolling Stones, Santana, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Faith No More, Pearl Jam, Oasis, REM, The Prodigy, Foo Fighters, Iggy Pop, Kings Of Leon und viele, viele mehr.

The gate at the back of the demesne
1984 nahmen U2 ihr Album "The Unforgettable Fire" im Schloß auf und auch das Video zu "Pride" wurde im neo-gotischen Ballsaal gedreht (der übrigens speziell für den Staatsbesuch von George IV im Jahre 1821 entworfen wurde). 
Nur sieben Jahre später brach ein echtes "unvergessliches Feuer" im östlichen Trakt aus und hätte beinahe das ganze Schloß zerstört. Die Renovierungsarbeiten dauerten ein ganzes Jahrzehnt, erst 2001 konnte das Schloß wieder für die Öffentlichkeit zugänglich gemacht werden. 

2009 haben die Conynghams ihr neuestes Projekt gestartet - ihre eigene "Slane Castle" Irish Whiskey Marke. Man kann ihn verkosten, wenn man an der geführten Tour teilnimmt. Die Tour ist wirklich interessant, informativ aber sehr locker, inklusive allerlei Rock`n`Roll Memorabilia, die in den Fluren hängt und Tratsch-Geschichten der Adeligen aus dem 18. und 19. Jahrhundert.
Laßt euch durchs Rock`n`Roll Schloß führen, wenn ihr in dem wunderschönen Dorf Slane vorbei kommt!
Falls ihr aber nicht so lange warten wollt, könnt ihr schon mal einen Blick auf die Webseite des Schloßes werfen: http://www.slanecastle.ie/


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