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Posted by on Jul 17, 2012 in 1reland, Castles, Shannon | 36 comments

In Search of Castle Matrix

Castle Matrix

For over a decade, my car rental maps had tempted me with a pink star marking the location of Castle Matrix. It was just a ways outside of Limerick a few miles from Adare. On our way to visit Imen from www.marriedanirishfarmer.com, Liam and I decided to stop.

A Hidden Castle

We drove from one end of Rathkeale to the other and beyond in search of the landmark. When we clearly went too far, we stopped and asked for directions from a gentleman who was standing in his drive talking to a woman parked nearby.

“Pull in here, and I’ll help ye,” he said directing us into his driveway before rushing back to the woman in the SUV. When he returned, he let us know the woman driver lived beside castle Matrix (pronounced Matt-trix), and she said it was open again for tours. Sounded as if things were going our way.

He proceeded to give us very detailed directions, even predicting, “you won’t even know it’s a road.” Indeed! With the building of the highway bypass around Rathkeale, the driveway to Castle Matrix goes completely unnoticed. Had it not been for the man’s instructions, we would not even have attempted… especially since there wasn’t a sign marking the way.

Abandoned… or Just Heavily Lived-In

Grass grew up the center of the drive, and the trees hung down and scraped the top of the car. I told Liam at least three times, “This can’t be the road.” A few turns in and we arrived at a small clearing beside the stone tower house. The foliage was overgrown, but there was a spot of shorter grass big enough for a car to turn around. The castle looked sturdy and a big wooden door marked the entrance. As we marched up, a cat or two scattered from behind a bush. We knocked, took a few pictures, but no one was there.

Liam at Castle Matrix

Liam at Castle Matrix

It was hard to tell if there had been any activity at the place recently… a wood carving and scattered rubbish made it look like there had, but overgrown bushes, cloudy windows, and no signs of modern life made us think twice.

On the internet, I couldn’t find any solid information on the place more recent than 2005-ish, but since those reports referenced an eccentric owner and a castle overwhelmed with clutter and pets, maybe nothing has changed, and we just hit it on an off day.

If you’ve been to Castle Matrix recently… let us know about your experience.

Directions and more photos >>

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36 Comments

  1. My husband and I stayed in the castle on our honeymoon in 1988 after a search similar to yours. Liz O’Driscoll and her husband Sean had renovated the castle and she and her small son were living in the house adjacent. Her lodger lead us on a tour of the castle when we showed up on the drive and later Liz came out to meet us. After a few minutes she invited us to stay. What ensued was a night of ghost stories and castle history told while we ate Irish stew in the great hall by candlelight. We were escorted to a lovely room with an Elizabethan bed and the only electric light in the castle. There we stayed through a howling gale that uprooted trees outside but which didn’t even make a sound through the thick walls. The ghost stories weighed heavily and we didn’t dare open our eyes that night. But in the morning we were amazed at how bright and beautiful the rooms were. As we approach our 25th anniversary we had hoped to re-vist but I see on Tripadvisor that the castle is not open to the public at present.

    • Dear Sarah et al,
      Sean and Liz are deceased. Liz passed about 2010. Sean sometime in the early 2000′s I believe. Sean was a crew member with my Uncle in WW2. If any one has any photo’s of Sean and or Liz I would really appreciate if you would share.
      Thank You.
      jcdowdy_2000@yahoo.com
      Sincerely,

      Editor’s note: Continue reading the comments below and you will find that at this time Liz is still among the living :)

      • I’ve toured the castle twice. I may have pictures of Liz. I will look for them. I didn’t know she had passed. She was always a gracious tour guide with fascinating stories.

      • Hello,
        Liz is still very much living. I wonder how you heard she died in 2010? Where ever it was, this information was very wrong.
        Regards,
        Debra

        • Since I posted that message regarding Liz Driscoll being deceased I found out that this was not true as well. That is good news and I am sincerely sorry for my error. However I could not reach her at the castle and it may be under new management. If any one could help me contact her i would very much appreciate it. I will gladly post my e-mail address.
          Thank You

        • Debra,

          Thanks for letting us know :)

        • Today, Nov 14, 2012, my friends and I stumbled upon the Castle Matrix and the interesting Liz. Just as was posted before, we were having trouble locating this castle when we asked a local gentleman for directions. We followed the directions to find an overgrown, narrow path which was blocked by a large fallen limb. We continued by foot to find the overgrown Castle Matrix. The grounds have been without care for such a long time that we thought it was abandoned. Just as we were about to leave a kind voice from a window high above called out to us… “I’m up here in the window”. We were delighted to meet Ms Liz and hear of her life while living at the Castle Matrix. She lives alone without funtional power or heat. Her husband, Sean O’Driscoll and son have passed away and she lives alone with many cats and dogs. However, after spending a delightful morning with her and touring her “castle” I leave Ireland with a smile and a warm heart. Thank you Ms Liz for a delightful day!

  2. Wonderful post! I never knew castles such as these existed. It must have been really fun searching for it.

  3. Many thanks for the kind remembrance, Margaret and sorry I’ve missed some visitors. I’m still here, albeit slow in recuperating from past events, but always enjoy sharing stories and castle experiences though our location is a bit confusing. Never did close to visitors. Look for the flowerbed saying Rathkeale on the N21 highway bypass of Rathkeale, and our driveway is on the opposite side of the road in the middle of the staggered intersection with tall trees at the edge of the highway. Thanks for replying, Debra.

    I like to see what nature will produce if left in peace, but some times of the year it can look very neglected from a gardener’s point of view, no apologies. Eccentric may fit. Absent-minded does too. Not much of a sense of time passing either. Still enjoy meeting new friends and hope some will be able to help solve debatable issues. Love, Liz

    • Hello Liz…..so lovely to hear you are still enjoying your home. I am hoping to visit you this summer, sometime in August, as I will be over to the UK to see family and attend a wedding.
      My interest in Castle Matrix comes from an ancient family connection to the Southwells and Browns who occupied the property in times past.
      Looking forward to meeting you and walking in great grandfather’s footsteps!

      Jilly

    • Hello Liz,

      We will definitley stop again… we are in the area every summer, and would love to meet you and share some stories.

      Corey

    • Travelling across Ireland for the first time and Spent hours searching for this castle and finally found. Would love to have seen inside but nobody home and seemed abandoned. I went back to our B&B and researched aliitle and happened onto this site. I’m sure it’s a long shot but if anyone knows of a way to get tour before we head off tommorrow to Galway I would be ever so appreciative. Thank You

    • Liz, I’m totally delighted you’re still alive. I was getting quite depressed from the messages saying you had passed. I’d love to come to see you at the castle. Sean knew my mother many decades ago and I have fond memories of him as a child and when I last saw him I was pregnant with my son Jack who is now 33. Are you still licking in the house next to the castle? If I can make it over, can I come and see you? I’m living in Yorkshire right now. I’m completely delighted you’re there. I’d just love to see you and the old castle for a visit? Love Mary-Rose. Please write to my email if you want! Are you well?

      • Sorry Liz that was meant to read living, not licking.

    • Hello Dear Liz,
      I visited you and your companion in 1994, I believe. The most enjoyable and authentic night in some time. I was with my traveling companion Tina. I wonder if we signed a ledger…? In any case, I remember you fondly as a kind, patient, contented soul and enjoyed so much the stories of old and your adventure with Sean, rebuilding Driscoll Castle (Matrix). The private Chapel and thick beams, a mantle adorned with broad swords, a meandering river… I visited because my brother and law (a Driscoll), mentioned it to me before I left for that great adventure by a mid twenty’s version of myself took to see where that half of my bloodline, the O’learys’, came. Thank you for a rich memory:) Patrick

    • Dear Liz,
      When I was 21 and traveling Ireland to discover my family, I had the grand opportunity to meet and spend time with Sean. It was 1971, and I was coming back to England after spending time with my family in Co Leitrim. I met Sean on a flight from Dublin to London. I was reading a book about Gordon Craig by his son Edward Craig — he knew the son and so we struck up a great conversation and we talked non-stop. I was working as an actress for a small company outside of Philadelphia at the time and he told me about Castle Matrix and wanted to make it an arts center.
      I am coming back to Ireland in May and staying at the McLaughlin Farm in Shannon, Co Mayo. I will be with my son, my sister and her husband. I would so love to meet YOU and see the Castle your Sean spoke so lovingly about.
      Would this be possible? It would complete the circle we began more than 40 years ago. Pls write to me if you can see us we’ll be there May 15 – 20. We have an early flight out of Dublin on the 22, so I don’t count the 21st as a viable day to visit. Longing to hear from you. I’m at momcfadden@aol.com
      Best regards, Maureen McFadden

  4. Looking forward to your visit, Jilly, and hearing more of the history from your family’s 300 plus years here. I’ve only found bits and pieces as when I had access to the British Library many years ago, I didn’t realise they were still using the old version of the name as Castle Mattress. Mainly going by what my late husband and others have told me over the years, including members of your Southwell and Brown families who have visited. Its links to major poets have also been quite intriguing through the centuries, the latest being Sean’s friendship with Michael Hartnett.

    Also many thanks for the memories to Sara, and wonder if John Dowdy ever received an e-mail from me? Apologies if not as my laptops have been hacked at times. Thanks also to the Editor of this very informative website. Liz

  5. Looking forward to your visit too, Corey and also hope Solo Mate Travel manages to cross paths with the Castle as well. It’s kind of like finding the correct train track in the first Harry Potter movie! At least so I’ve been told …. :-) Liz

  6. Oh, Liz, I am glad you are still with us! So very sorry to hear that you have lost your son as well as Sean. Your graciousness to me in 1985 will never be forgotten. That was my first magical visit to Ireland. Aengus O’Carroll, who was something of a protegé of Sean’s, wrote me an introduction and Sean even read a manuscript of mine. Now I am a “slightly published” poet and a grandmother. My husband and I plan to visit Ireland this fall, late September, though since he reluctant to drive there, we will have to give Rathkeale and Castle Matrix a miss.

    My welcome to your place was a nip from a white horse! How magical is that?

    Stay well,

    Sue

  7. Wow, hi Sue, so good to hear from you! I’ve often wondered whether ‘the Men in Black’ meet our visitors as they leave, as it’s quite rare for me to be contacted again. Apologies if my memory is dodgy but can’t remember if you visited later and did meet my son, gifted artist by the age of eleven, musician/composer/producer by fifteen, photographer and highly skilled basketball player too. ‘Slightly published’ is a whole lot more than I can say about my writing! :-) And glad to hear you have become a grandmother! Will you be anywhere near Limerick City or Shannon? Perhaps we could meet …. Safe travelling, Liz

  8. I’ve never even been to Castle Matrix & I live in Rathkeale

  9. Hi Stacey, was it you I met at the top of the boreen? Just listening to the latest CD from ‘Dead Can Dance’ and if you like it, you’ll probably like the castle too. There are some paintings in the Limerick Art Gallery worth checking out as well. One with the most animals, by Gerry Davis, could have the title ‘And Man is the least of these’, the words which passed through my mind from someone else, when I looked at it. Try to connect with me around a lunchtime or leave a note with your phone number for me. Liz

  10. Travelling across Ireland for the first time and Spent hours searching for this castle and finally found. Would love to have seen inside but nobody home and seemed abandoned. I went back to our B&B and researched aliitle and happened onto this site. I’m sure it’s a long shot but if anyone knows of a way to get tour before we head off tommorrow to Galway I would be ever so appreciative. Thank You

    • My apologies for missing your post and your visit, as I’m sometimes there but out of earshot, or else had to head for the bus to get supplies as I have no car at the moment and that takes extra time. Hope you can get in touch with me through Corey or a tourist office which should still have my mobile listed. However today I’ve even forgotten to take my phone with me. Sigh.

  11. Dear Liz,

    In 1988, my husband and I took a wonderful touring drive of Ireland, and on the driving map we spotted Castle Matrix on the route we were driving, so decided to take a look. When we pulled up, your husband came out to great us, and then proceeded to give us a lovely tour of the castle and the history behind it. We have never forgotten how hospitable he was and fondly remember the event. We plan on a trip to Ireland the summer of 2014, and would love to stop by again. It is so nice to know that you are still there.

    Regards,

    Patti Claar
    Murphy, Texas USA

  12. Liz, still checking to see where to get in touch with you, please email me if you can. thank you.
    Alice Forrester

  13. In 2006 we toured castle Matrix. The owner was lovely. We called ahead and asked her permission for a tour. The castle is privately owned and and is the owners home and she may not always want to give tours. It was a thrilling experience to see the castle. The owner gave us some history of the place as we toured. I have many lovely photos from that day.

  14. Dear Liz,
    My husband and I along with our daughter and granddaughter hope to visit your castle on the 18th or 19th of October. Hope you will be there so we can have a tour of the place. My ancestors, Philip Raynard (sometimes spelled Reynard, Rayner,or Rynard) and his wife Frances Holland were living in that area in the 1840′s. They called Castle Matrix “their castle” as it was a landmark for the area where they lived. Am looking forward to seeing the castle. Would either date be better for you?
    Barbara

  15. Well well. I was hiking the Great Southern Trail from Rathkeale to Abbeyfeale 10 days ago and seeing the little sign at the end of the track thought i would call down in the hope of a cup of tea and a look around.
    More and more intriguing as i ventured down the overgrown boreen past what looked like feeding stations for birds or cats( presumably not both!)
    Unfortunately didn’t seem to be anyone in although there was a car parked outside and thinking that i may have been intruding i turned away.
    In the process of trying to write an article on my walk i stumbled upon this website and now wish i’d tried harder to make contact. It looked like my kind of place and Liz sounds like a lovely woman it would have been great to meet.Maybe another time.
    Steve Barham

  16. Hello Liz,

    I drove down to Castle Matrix yesterday 08th October. I didnt realise that the castle was occupied. I am very interested in wildlife and i am currently surveying sites for Barn Owls. I saw a Barn Owl a few weeks back coming from your general area, i could see the castle from the road and so yesterday i decided to drive down and check it out. I did a bit of walking around the outside buildings looking for evidence of Barn Owls…there was a dog in the shed so i left after that, but i think that the sheds or even the castle could be a suitable roost or nest site for Barn Owls.
    I hope i didn`t alarm you if you were in the castle, i would love the chance to check the inside of the sheds for evidence of Barn Owls and perhaps the castle.
    I live in Abbeyfeale so could meet you at short notice, i wouldn`t like to check without your permission.

    Tony

  17. Hello from Wisconsin, Liz! Andreas Transo here. Remember me!? I stayed with you a bit a number of years ago…before and after I did some coursework at UL. After many more years of traveling and playing music I am now a bit more settled down and have started a family here in Wisconsin. I would love to reconnect with you. I sent a message to what I think is or was your facebook profile. All the best! -Andreas

  18. Hello Liz, My wife and I stopped by last year as well and would have loved to have met you. We live in Cork are and would love to stop by and see your lovely castle again and have a chat and a tea if you are available?? Please let me know when you will be there by e-mail so we can say hello.
    Daithi and Maire O’Brien

  19. Liz,
    It has been awhile since we have spoken. I was hoping to find new photos of the castle online, and I came across this site. I hope you are still doing well. Would be really nice to hear from you.

    Take care of yourself!
    Glenna Driscoll- Roberts

  20. Hi Liz,
    Its Henry’s daughter Andrea here, bet you didn’t expect to find me here!I was interested to see if there were any sights or articles on the castle and alas I found many, I also realised that you are edging on famous!
    I hope you are well, its been a bit since I visited the castle and I am pretty sure nothing has changed even with Dad pounding you to strim the driveway!On my most recent visit I stumbled accross a room home to a clowder of kittens, I hope they are still around and well:)I think you should nearly charge for tours now, you would make a fortune!
    Andrea:)

  21. Hi Liz,

    I have been coming to Adare for over five years and staying that the Gatelodge at the gate to the manor. I have missed seeing your wonderful home and, as I read, I am hoping to come by on April 25th. Very excited to see what I have just read so much about.

    Regards,
    Mary Ellen

  22. Dear Liz,
    I stumbled quite by chance on this website and if I may be so bold, am very excited at the possibility of meeting you if we are able to find our way there and you have the time. Will be visiting your area April 28 or 29 and would love to stop by to say hello and have a chance to hear the wonderful stories that you are certainly privileged to have of your lovely home. Look forward to a lovely time with you, your home, and your pets, as I am a pet lover as well. With very warm regards, Alma

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