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Irish Castle Hotels

The Island was fashioned by nature. Picturesque and enchanting, sheltered and secure, its strategic location, in a pivotal position near Waterford City and its important post, brought it historical fame and caused it to play a major role in the history of the region.

According to tradition a Monastic settlement existed on the Island sometime between the sixth and the eighth centuries. Two ‘finds’ on the Island have lent substance to this: A Winged Angel dating from the 8th century and the crude carving of a Monk’s head, which is now prominently displayed over the main entrance to the Castle, dating from the 6th century.

Maurice Fitzgerald, cousin of Strongbow, the English Earl of Pembroke, landed in Waterford during the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1160. During a battle he was taken prisoner by Osserman of Waterford and held on the Island until he was rescued by his son-in-law to re-join the victorious Norman Army.

He was rewarded for his support of the invasion by becoming potentate over large tracts of land in Munster and Leinster, including the island in which he decided to make his home, thus sealing the fate of the island for eight centuries, being home to the Earls of Kildare and Ormond and the Knights of Glin and Kerry, in one of the longest unbroken stewardship’s on record in Ireland.

In 1958, the Igo family who came from Rhodesia bought the property from the Fitzgerald Family, thus ending the remarkable link between the Fitzgerald’s and the island. The Igo’s installed a five acre complex of glasshouses from which they produced fruits and flowers. The chain link ferry was also commissioned at this time.

In 1978 the Island was rented to Roger Shipsey, a Waterford Pedigree Dairy Farmer, who later bought the island outright. He saw a great advantage of the island as a disease free area due to its isolation.

Eddie Kearns, who bought The Island in 1987 both preserved its past and secured its future by opening the beauty of the Castle and the Island to all visitors by developing it into a luxurious Hotel and Country Club, which now is one of the most impressive Castle Hotels in Ireland.

To read more on the castle history please view our history brochure below.