A Brief History by
Henry, Eighth Marquess Conyngham
Slane 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.
In 1991 tragedy struck. A real Unforgettable Fire took place. A third of the building was destroyed and the rest of the Castle was severely damaged. It took a decade to painstakingly restore it and it has now returned to its former glory and it is a thriving venue for weddings, business conferences and other gatherings.
I hope that soon you get to experience some of the magic, mysticism and romance that is part of the rich tapestry that envelopes Slane Castle.
Neo-Gothic Ballroom Ceiling
Situated in the stunningly beautiful Boyne valley overlooking the River Boyne just a few miles upstream from the site of the famous Battle of the Boyne, Slane Castle in its existing form was reconstructed under the direction of William Burton Conyngham, together with his nephew the first Marquess Conyngham. The reconstruction dates back to 1785 and is principally the work of: James Gandon, James Wyatt and Francis Johnston. Francis Johnston, one of Ireland’s most distinguished architects, is responsible for the dramatic gothic gates on the Mill Hill.
The Conyngham’s are originally a noble Scottish family, and settled in Ireland in 1611 in Co. Donegal. There has been an active association between the Conynghams and the Slane Estate dating back over 300 years, ever since the property was purchased by the family following the Williamite Confiscations in 1701.
Courtyard designed by Capability Brown
The present head of the Conyngham family is the eighth Marquess Conyngham.
In 1991, a disastrous fire in the Castle caused extensive damage to the building and completely gutted the Eastern section facing the River Boyne. With the completion of the 10-year restoration programme in 2001, Slane Castle has once again opened its doors, offering the perfect combination of old charm and modern day comfort.
Managed by Slane Castle Ltd, on behalf of the eighth Marquess Conyngham.