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A Week in a Medieval Castle

A week in a medieval castle, with no electricity or washing facilities, sleeping on straw and foraging for rabbits. It’s all in a day’s work for Rosita Boland , who has just moved to Carlingford to spend a week with her new medieval ‘family’.

The following Articles are Rosita’s account from her week-long stay at Taaffes Castle, Carlingford…

A.1 Crying out for medieval times in Taaffe’s Castle
I’ve done a lot of odd things as a journalist. Stripped naked for a charity Dip in the Nip swim for a cancer fundraiser. Abseiled down a waterfall in Scotland when a press trip went wrong because it was the only way to get out of where we were. Visited a fortune teller. Slept in a monastery. Had my handwriting analysed.

I’ve interviewed people on streets, in fields, in caravans, in offices, convents, schools, in prisons, funeral parlours and theatres, on beaches, in the pouring rain, on rooftops (Bangladesh), under mango trees (Malawi), in temples (Cambodia), at midnight, at dawn and once when I was half-asleep, at 4am in an all-night supermarket.

But when I think about it, in all my esoteric assignments to date, I’ve never interviewed anyone in a castle before. Or slept in one. Until now, that is. For the next few days, my home will literally be my castle. I’ll be living with seven other people in Taaffe’s Castle in Carlingford, Co Louth. Read More…

A.2 Taaffe Castle update: Gutted over skinned rabbits and cremated pigeon

I know where meat comes from. I know it doesn’t just miraculously turn up in shrink-wrapped containers. Even so, there is something quite gruesomely visceral about seeing rabbits being ungloved of their skin, gutted and cut up, as happened yesterday. Especially when it’s being done in the open air, with medieval-type implements, and you’re wondering quietly about cross contamination involving raw meat, no running water and the unspeakable facilities behind a curtain that pass for a toilet, writes ROSITA BOLAND

Reader, we ate those rabbits. If it were not for the dazzling skills of Panda and Alex, who appear undaunted by anything, and who know more about medieval life than seems sensible, the rabbits would still be hanging there uneaten. As it was, they ended up in a cast-iron cauldron – “for the 13th century, it should be copper, not cast-iron”, observed Panda – with parsnips, carrots and herbs. Read More…

A.3 Taaffe Castle update: Two rabbits down – next, the pigs and non-laying geese

Time changes everything – and, with a few days’ perspective, what appeared rustic and photogenic is entirely impractical

As the days go by, we have been making readjustments to our medieval quarters, as we test out what we have been provided with. This 13th-century recreation may seem like a cracking idea on paper, but many things have not worked out well once put into use, as we medieval guinea pigs have been discovering.

The courtyard eating area with the great big chairs that looks so photogenic turned out, almost immediately, to be completely impractical. For a start, it took two of us to move one chair. And as you may recall, the courtyard is roofless, and the various tarpaulins that have since gone up over the table have all either collapsed or been dislodged – partly because the roofless courtyard is also a most effective wind tunnel.

It has been raining quite savagely these past few days, and not only is it impossible to keep candles lit in the wind, but none of the tarpaulin roofs have kept the rain off. Read More…

A.4 Taaffe Castle Update: My lungs are beginning to feel like they are covered in charcoal

Medieval life is wearing thin for Rosita Boland , what with the rodents – and the leprechauns.

Here is how this morning in the castle started.

1. I woke up under my sheepskins coughing, with a persistent, dull ache in my head. Living and sleeping in all this medieval smoke is definitely having its impact. My lungs are beginning to feel like they’re coated in charcoal.

2. Almost the first thing I saw when I got up was hunter Lionel Knobbs arriving in to us with no fewer than nine dead rabbits impaled on a stick. I never want to see another rabbit in my life, dead or alive. That’s because they now have the curious, but potent, effect of making me want to instantly throw up. It took a long time to clean up all the blood after the rabbit-gutting session on Sunday, and I didn’t even do any of the cleaning. Read More…

A.5 Taaffe Castle update: The time is nigh: I’m out of here

Rosita Boland says goodbye to Carlingford, her new family and her medieval life – she won’t be back in a hurry

There is one thing that has kept me going this week. Or to be precise – seven people. I could not have lasted life in the castle without my medieval comrades, who have made me laugh daily, and who turned 14 blind, forgiving eyes to the fact I hardly ever did any onerous tasks. Read More…