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It is a fine example of the architecture of the period and was the medieval stronghold of the Fitzgeralds, the Earls of Kildare being in their possession for about 700 years.
The castle is particularly, associated with Gerald, the 11th Earl of Kildare, known as the "Wizard Earl", who became the male representative of the Geraldines when only twelve years of age after his half brother "Silken Thomas" the 10th earl, was executed at Tyburn in 1537.
The "Wizard Earl" was sent to the continent to be educated, and following his return to Kildare his interest in alchemy caused much interest among his neighbours around Kilkea Castle and he was said to possess magic powers.
In the early eighteenth century the 19th Earl of Kildare decided to make Carton House the family seat and Kilkea Castle was leased to a succession of tenants.
The castle was ransacked during the rebellion of 1798.
Later on in 1849, a fire badly damaged the restored castle.
The castle and estate was finally sold by the Fitzgerald family in the early 1960s.
Kilkea Castle is now a hotel and golf club with a great reputation as a luxury retreat.