A campaign has been launched in Tipperary to purchase a castle in which the ancestors of both Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana once lived.
The Black Castle, which is in the heart of Thurles town centre, has been in private ownership for many years, but it has just gone on the open market along with a commercial building which links it directly to the main square, which will make it very accessible.
Locals want it turned into a visitor attraction and believe it would get a lot of spin-off of business from the nearby Rock of Cashel, which attracts more than 300,000 visitors a year.
The campaign is being led by local county councillor Jim Ryan, who is urging the OPW and Tipperary County Council to purchase it.
Mr Ryan said that although built in the 1600s, the castle is “in good nick” and could easily be converted into a visitor centre, which could be marketed as part of Ireland’s Ancient East attractions.
The castle was first occupied by Lady Elizabeth Poyntz, known as Lady Thurles, and her husband, Viscounct Thomas Butler.
Their son, the Duke of Ormond, is directly related to Prince Charles.
Lady Thurles is also related to the Hamilton family, who married into the Spencer family and therefore the bloodline includes Princess Diana, who died in a car crash in Paris in 1997.
Princess Diana was the 12th cousin, twice removed, of Lady Thurles.
Lady Thurles died in 1673. At her own request, she was buried inside a church on the site, which was built over and now known as St Mary’s Church of Ireland Church.
A polished commemorative limestone plaque within the church building recalls this historic period.
Locals feel that the double royal connection is a real seller, especially as the future heirs to the British throne will always have the Thurles lineage.
Thurles has suffered a lot of job losses in recent years and locals believe the visitor centre would help boost the local economy.
“The Rock of Cashel is only down the road and we’d be hoping to attract some of the visitor there to Thurles,” said Mr Ryan.
“Given the important history of the castle it would make a good addition to the tourism market in the town.”
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