Castel Matrix

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  • Aspects of Limerick

The Rich History of Castle Matrix

On the outskirts of town of Rathkeale is Castle Matrix, a fifteenth-century tower founded by the Fitzgeralds. Its name may be derived from 'Caisleán Bhun Traisce'. However, some experts have linked the castle's name with the 'Matres' or 'Matronae'. The Matres were triple mother-goddesses of the pagan Celts, a type of pre-Christian Trinity.

Another famous owner of the castle was Thomas Southwell, who rescued 200 Palentine families from Germany and settled them on the grounds of the castle in 1709. Castle Matrix is also the place where Sir Walter Raleigh met the poet, Edmund Spenser. This meeting inspired him to write 'The Faerie Queen'. Edmund Southwell (Thomas's father) was also a good friend of Sir Walter Raleigh, who often visited the castle. Raleigh presented him with some Virginia Tubers, which he planted in the land around the castle. In 1610, the crop of potatoes was harvested and distributed throughout the province.

By the 1960s, the castle had fallen into disrepair. An American called Sean O'Driscoll bought the castle and restored it to its former glory. The castle now has a library containing a collection of original documents relating to the Wild Geese. It is still owned and maintained by the O'Driscoll family.