History but no high heels for Limerick's councillors at meeting in Desmond Castle

Newcastle West’s local representatives turned up at the seat of Geraldine power for monthly meeting

Norma Prendiville


Norma Prendiville

History but no high heels for Limerick's councillors at meeting in Desmond Castle

This week’s meeting in the Desmond Hall, the seat of power in West Limerick

THERE was a three-foot long sword but not a stiletto in sight when Newcastle West’s local councillors turned up at the seat of Geraldine power, the Desmond Castle, for their monthly meeting.

It was an historic occasion, the first ever time councillors had met there, the chairman of Newcastle West Municipal District, Cllr John Sheahan said.

Sadly, however, not an occasion for stilettos, even though the Desmond Hall once was a ballroom of romance in the glamour days of the 1950s and 1960s when high heels were also trendy.

But, now, no high heels to be worn, came the stipulation in writing from the Office of Public Works along with the notice for Wednesday’s meeting.

No tea and biscuits and no water either, but those rules, at least, were not gender-specific or glamour-averse.

It was, an OPW spokeswoman said, “to prevent damage to the floors at Desmond Castle”.

Mind you, looking at the heavy, limestone flags on the floor of the Desmond Hall, it was hard to imagine anything bar a cannonball having an impact.

“The OPW has had damage to floors due to high heels being worn,” the spokeswoman expanded.  

But not a word as to where and when that happened. Or on what kind of floor. And nothing at all about what happens should a high-heel wearing tourist turn up to visit Newcastle West’s premier tourist attraction. Will she be turned away? Will she be required to do the tour barefoot?

And what about someone with hobnail boots? Is there a rule for them too? Or a golf-shoe wearing tourist? And where else is there a no high heels rule?

These are questions that any history-loving visitor needs to know, wouldn’t you agree? And then again, you have to ask: does John Boxer Moran, the minister in charge of the OPW, know about the high-heel rule? And what about the brides who come to get married in the dungeon? Do they have to take off their high heels too?

Back in the Desmond Hall, the councillors and staff all without high heels, sat around the large, square oak table, a three-foot long sword in its leather scabbard plonked in the centre.

“If we were back in the 13th century, we would be operating under Brehon Law,” Cllr John Sheahan said.

There were no high heels then either, mind you.

But the rule doesn’t seem to be putting anyone off. Since Desmond Castle re-opened in 1998, visitor numbers have been climbing and reached just over 10,000 last year.

This year, the projected number is 12,000 visitors or more. But none with high heels.