I first visited the castle with my family in 1999 shortly after moving to Birr.
My first impression was WOW!! The towers were so huge and magnificent and took my breath away. We rang the bell at the door and were greeted by a lovely american lady who proceeded to give us a wonderful tour of the castle letting us all know about the history of the build of the castle, the history of its family and the history of the fantastic furniture and decor within its walls. The love affair had begun.
Every time, driving up and down to Birr from Dublin for work I could see her tower with her tricolour proudly displayed over the forest canopy envoking images of times gone by when the castle was being built by the french prisioners of war.
After a number of years, we found ourselves again at Charleville and managed to get to speak with Dudley and Bonnie about the castle and its current projects. We learned about the Quest Campus and all of the activities that go on there and the plans for the future. Like having a second child, I wasn't sure if I could love this new information as much as I loved the castle but as with the love for ones child, your love just grows, and that it did!!
Since that time, I have been inspired on every visit by tales, anecdotes and disclosures from Dudley, Bonnie and my 100's of new castle friends and am never ever dissappointed after any visit.
The whole Charleville Experience has brought me new knowledge, new friends, new belief in myself and the castle volunteers. We've had tears of laughter, tears of pride, tears of exhaustion and years of joy and long may this love affair continue.
I hope that in the coming years, this experience will blossom and grow and with all of the projects coming up, the castle and all of its friends, both new and old will continue to amaze me!
Ian O'Flynn 21/10/2011