Strategically located overlooking Tacumshin Lake and beyond towards the open sea, Sigginstown Castle dates back to at least the early 1500s, with a fascinating history over hundreds of years. Current owners, Liz and Gordon Jones, are fluent in the castle’s intrigue and heritage, and their guided tours of the exquisitely-renovated castle tower bring to life the remarkable story of this fortress on the Wexford coastline and the Norman Way.
Since purchasing Sigginstown Castle in 2016, Gordon and Liz have undertaken the mammoth task of restoring the castle, which had been in a state of ruin since the early 20th century. Documented by RTÉ on The Great House Revival in 2021, the careful renovation has protected the original features of the castle while bringing its essence to life with striking decoration based on historical research and local knowledge. Each of the five levels of the tower brings a different perspective on life in the period, guided by both Gordon and Liz who are brimming with knowledge and passion for the castle and its history.
Entering through a hand-made oak door based on an extant 16th-century original, the first level of the tower brings you into the lower vault, originally for storage and defence with narrow arrow slits, and viewing ports. There are now oak benches and tables to seat guests for music or historical tavern experiences.
Ascending the narrow stone staircase (hold on to the handrail!), you enter the upper vault, which has a gallery looking down below, and from which more guests can attend events for a multi-level gathering. Look out for the portcullis shaft, down through which a heavy gate would be lowered for additional security in times of attack. Finally, you won’t want to miss the medieval urinal used by the guards on watch!
Continuing the climb, the third floor offers a captivating recreation of 16th-century wall painting, drawing on extant sources such as Crathes Castle, the DeBurgo Manuscript, and a Cornmarket St. house in Oxford. The Siggins heraldry on the fireplace has been researched from Kirkby-Sigston in Yorkshire, and Sigingstone in South Wales, where the Siggins may have originated. Excerpts from a song in the ancient dialect of Yola are inscribed on the walls, and the entire richly painted room transports you to another era.
The fourth-floor wall painting feels completely different, with scenes of calm fishing and turbulent shipwrecks, sea monsters and mythical creatures, also from period sources and maps. An image of the south Wexford coastline adorns the fireplace hood, and visitors start to feel the connection to the sea and travel by water, so different from our modern roads.
The fifth and final floor is a light-filled, airy space with a hand-hewn oak roof. This room will also be decorated and contain a four-poster bed. The last steps reach the parapet at top of the tower, which offers a panoramic view of the countryside and the sea. Viewing the landscape from this elevation, the location of the castle as a point of deterrence against marine invaders becomes clear as it serves as an opportunistic spot from which to plunder the spoils of shipwrecks on the treacherous South Wexford Coastline.
Sigginstown Castle is open to the public for tours, and a series of future events are planned for 2023 and beyond, including music sessions, sea-shanty nights, and 18th-century experiences.
This fascinating location offers something for all ages, and the expert guidance from Liz and Gordon bring the castle and its history to life in entrancing ways. They wish to not only have visitors tour the castle, but experience the space and feel what it was like in various periods. Situated merely a 15-minute drive from Rosslare Harbour, and located on the Norman Way heritage trail, a visit to Sigginstown Castle is not to be missed!