I was in Athenry shooting a music video, we had the location scouting done, the video shot and we were on the way home when I spotted this amazing long wooded drive way with a locked gate. Outside the gate was a postbox saying CASTLE ELLEN HOUSE.
I got out of the car and was just stood at the gate in awe of the long driveway when a man in an old jeep pulls up on the inside of the gate. I introduced myself, told him what we were doing in the area and told him I was simply admiring the driveway. For some reason it didn’t for one second cross my mind to think about what could be at the end of it but Micheal opened the gate and invited us in to see Castle Ellen House.
Dating back to 1810, when it was built by the Lambert family, Castle Ellen is situated on 33 acres of land, 13.5 miles from Galway City and 2.5 miles from Athenry. The house is located in a beautiful woodland setting. It is a haven of tranquility, where one can enjoy a sense of timelessness and connection to nature. Micheal was so enthused and excited by our project that before we even got a chance to say we were almost finished the shoot, he gave us a tour of the house and grounds showing us every possible nook and cranny that might benefit our video shoot.
When your used to locations such as Westport House or Kylemore Abbey you expect to see the same when you walk into Castle Ellen, I was expecting a reception desk and a souvenir stand inside the front door but if thats what your expecting, your in for a pleasant surprise. The only modern aspect to this house is the light switches on the wall, after thats its as raw and as beautiful as the days the Lamberts were in it. Keep in mind that its not open to the public at the moment but it will be for a number of months during the summer.
As we were filming a video for the song “The Fields Of Athenry”, Micheal insisted on showing us the view from every window in the house, even if it ment negotiating some joists on the upper floors. My days spent as a roofer came in handy here.
Castle Ellen is an ongoing restoration project, covering both the house and grounds. Michael has dedicated himself to restoring the place to its former state. Progress can be slow, but piece by piece the “Big House” is being continually transformed.
It makes me so proud to be irish when you meet people like Micheal. Here was a gang of “nosy parkers” standing outside his house and instead of telling us to leave him alone and give him some privacy he opened up every part of this huge estate to us and even asked us to stay for tea. A true old-school gentleman.