Ormond Castle - A House Fit For A Queen
Ormond Castle - A unique survival The gradual re-conquest of Ireland by England’s Tudor dynasty was a bloody and destructive. Consequently very little of substance was built in Ireland throughout the16th century. ‘Black Tom Butler”, - the 10th Earl of Ormond, changed his grim 13th century fortress in Carrick-on-Suir into a palatal domestic residence by fronting it with ‘U’ shaped entrance block containing sumptuous windowed reception rooms. In the Ireland of1565 this was an act of extraordinary bravado. The house’s survival through the subsequent centuries of turmoil in Ireland is nothing less than miraculous. Restoration of Ormond Castle The OPW (Office of Public Works) is tasked with the restoration and upkeep of the all of the historic monuments and sites in the care of the Irish state. It has painstakingly restored Tom Butlers additions to Ormond Castle back to their authentic Elizabethan appearance, inside and out. Interpretive mission Martello realised the interpretation of Ormond Castle offered interesting opportunities to engage modern audiences. The story of Tom Butler directly links people, places, and events in Ireland with items of contemporary Anglo-American screen culture such as: The Tudors, Wolf Hall, The Other Boleyn Girl, Elizabeth The Golden Age, and so forth. A struggle between three dynasties The narrative of Tom Butler’s life resonates with modern fictional dramas such as ‘Game of Thrones’. Tom was a central figure in a struggle for the control of Ireland between three powerful inter-related dynasties:- the Butlers of Ormond; the Fitzgeralds of Desmond; and the Tudors of England. All three clans claimed direct descent from the legendary Rys Ap Tewder - the’ last King of the Britons’. A woven tapestry uses the famous Carrick knot to symbolise the complex relationship between three upstart families. The knot is the symbol of the town of Carrick-on-Suir, that Ormond Castle protects,. It can be seen all over the plasterwork of the ceilings. Contemporary parallels Visitors can usefully compare the situation of Tom Butler’s Ireland with that of present day Balkans, or Middle East. Petty local tribal rivalries exacerbated by superpower rivalries led to Holy War and ethnic cleansing on a massive scale. The religious and international dimension of the two Desmond Rebellions in Munster ultimately doomed both the ancient Gaelic, and the old Anglo-Norman nobilities in Ireland. A divided island A narrow strip of stockaded land around Dublin was within the ‘Pale’. This was directly controlled by the English Crown. For four centuries two rival rival tribes of Anglo-Norman paladins:- the Butlers of Ormond and the Fitzgeralds of Desmond, fought to control. the lands ‘beyond the Pale’ known as the Colony. Theyir territories were surrounded by a patchwork of fifty petty tribal kingdoms controlled by the Gaelic Irish. The religion, language, costumes, and traditions of this Celtic warrior society were all despised as uncouth by servants of the English Crown. Their mission to ‘remake Ireland in the image of England’ required replacing the existing inhabitants with Protestant English settlers. The previous wave of settlers from England - the Anglo-Normans had remained Catholic. They were judged to have become more Irish than the Irish. They were to be crushed as ruthlessly as the original natives that they had conquered. The technical brief The OPW’s brief required Martello’s interpretation to describe the evolution of the site; show the wider setting of the castle as it was in 1565; recount the elaborate processes of restoration; explain the rich heraldic symbolism of the stone carvings and plaster ceilings; and bring to life the workings of the no longer extant kitchens and other service areas. The exhibition areas Tours of Ormond Castle are led by expert human guides. But the visitor waiting area avoids the jarring intrusion of modern information panels. The restored 16th century ambiance is maintained by reproductions of period wood-cuts, paintings, and tapestries. These are arranged in a sequence so that the captions allow visitors to follow Tom Butler's pivotal role in the downfall of his rivals the Fitzgerald dynasty, during the two successive Desmond rebellions. A detailed 1:90 model scale model on a table in the middle of the room presents: Ormond Castle; it’s watergate; orchards and formal gardens at their zenith. All the themes of the brief are elaborated in detail on two interactive page turning digital books mounted on Elizabethan timber lecterns. Two newly woven Brussels tapestries come to life in a complimentary pair of ‘his and hers’ animated video dramas. Each video is circa eight minutes long. Both the content of the two videos, and of the interactive books are delivered in five languages, English, Irish, French, German and Italian. Finding The Emotional Heart of Ormond Castle The two videos present the personal human drama at the heart of the story of Ormond Castle, presented from two contrasting standpoints. It is a tragic love triangle.Tom Butler is suspected to have fathered a child - Piers Butler, with his cousin, the young Princess Elizabeth during her wilderness years. Tom was her protector and close companion in the grim decades after Henry VIII had executed her mother Anne Boleyn. Boleyn was of Butler descent. The King declared his young daughter to be illegitimate and expelled both Tom and Elizabeth from his court. Tom stood by his cousin. Their affectionate correspondence shows that they remained intimate friends throughout their long lives. He lived in constant expectation of Elizabeth visiting him, and his mysterious son, in the beautiful house he boasted was ‘Fit for a Queen’. The Queen in fact died packing for the journey. A Sumptuous Suite of Lavish Reception Rooms Tom’s wealthy English wife Elizabeth Berkeley was led to believe that he was modernising Ormond Castle to make her difficult life ‘beyond the Pale’ bearable. Naturally she felt betrayed when the decorative plasterwork revealed that the house was in fact a shrine to the Queen. Far from cementing their marriage, the completion of the palatial house triggered their separation. In the decades that followed, Tom was increasingly tormented by the conflict between his deep personal loyalty to the Queen, and the hostility of her government in Ireland. Despite his English education they distrusted Tom as an Irishman. His loyalty was continuously put to the test. He was made to collaborate in: the ruthless scorched earth ‘depopulation of the province of Munster; the destruction of his Fitzgerald kinsmen; and his own way of life. Novel Ways of Viewing Familiar Images One, or more images, from John Derrick’s book ‘The Image of Ireland” appear in almost every Irish history book. So the intended ‘wow’ factor comes from visitors experiencing familiar images in a novel and immersive way. It was originally planned that digital scans of John Derrick’s plates could be digitally chopped up into the component elements. in Photoshop. The virtual camera would move through layered three dimensional versions of Derrick’s scenes, using After Effects video editing software. However, the scenes had too much overlapping material. It proved easier to use them as reference plates. The component elements were all drawn from scratch on overlays by illustrators who mimicked Derrick’s style. Composting New Scenes Furthermore, Derrick was selective in what he portrayed. His book was sponsored by our villain -Sir Henry Sidney. So Sydney is the central character in most of the scenes. Our hero - Tom Butler had been written out of Sydney’s version of history. The illustrators built up a comprehensive library of visual elements, from all of Derrick’s scenes. These were resized and rearranged to build the required new scenes in Derrick’s style. Conveying Human Emotion Few of Derrick’s stylised figures convey much character, or emotion. He portrayed very few women for instance. So we used Walt Disney’s technique. Simple semi-abstract figures are placed in the background. Larger more realistic and expressive figures are placed in the foreground. A female illustrator joined the team to design our principal cast members in close up detail. The Editor/Director composited all the scenes, animations, and camera motions. He was guided by:- the pre-recorded voiceover track; the Scriptwriter’s initial visual storyboards; and more elaborated pencil sketches by a storyboard artist.