19 August 2009

Donamon Castle* vs Dracula

Many of us, perhaps, have read Bram Stoker’s gothic novel, Dracula or maybe have seen the 1992 film, Dracula, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The main actor Gary Oldman, as Dracula, did a wonderful job portraying to millions of people all over the world what Dracula would look like: very pale with long, sharp teeth and living in old, dark, and gloomy castles.

Of course there is no Dracula in Donamon castle but a similar idea has played an important role in the history of Donamon castle. It was no surprise for me, therefore, when I read “A brief history of Donamon castle” to learn that “the castle remained vacant for 19 years (1920-1939), shunned by the local people who believed it was haunted by the ghost of a former bailiff”.

“Donamon castle is one of the oldest inhabited buildings in Ireland. There was a fortress here from earliest time but the first recorded reference is in the Annals of the Four Masters for the year 1154. The name: Donamon, Dun Lomghuin, the fortress of Lomghuin”. After a history of destructions and rebuilding, Donamon castle was vacant for 19 years (1920-1939). “And in 1939 the Divine Word Missionaries bought the property. The grounds were a wilderness and the castle was in a ruinous condition ... The beginning was slow and difficult”.

Now Donamon castle looks elegant. I’m very happy to have had the chance to visit and stay there several times since 1998. Instead of meeting many Draculas in this castle, I have met many great and wonderful missionaries who have been to many places in Asia, Africa, Australia, America and Europe.

* Donamon Castle - Roscommon, Ireland.

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