A series by Gemma Grant

When Dutch couple, Femmy and husband Ruud Bolmeijer, closed the doors on Tulira castle for the last time, Femmy passionately hoped the new owners would use the castle as their home and not develop it as a hotel. Femmy, in an interview, said her family spent the happiest days of their lives living in Ireland comfortably ensconced in castle Tulira.

When Ruud retired from his post as senior executive with the Mars corporation in America, the couple were looking for somewhere to retire to and something to do in their retirement. When they encountered Tulira castle, it fitted the bill. It was a beautiful retirement get-away where they felt at home. Plus, it would guarantee to keep them busy, as it required a serious overhaul.

When they bought the castle in the 1990s, they paid in the region of 2 million for their hideaway. The property, situated on 256 acres of lush woodland, was not exactly a turn-key home. The couple spent time, effort and money, lovingly restoring and upgrading their new seven bedroom acquisition.

The east wing of the castle dates from 1843 and an elaborate oak door in the Great Hall leads into the adjoining medieval tower. During refurbishment of this area, attention was turned to the kitchen. When finished, the kitchen blended in so well with the Victorian feel of Tulira, that it looked like it was there from the beginning.
Femmy took inspiration from Dutch design for this area. Handmade wall tiles were imported and tiles, hand painted above the Aga range, depict the port of Amsterdam of the early 17th century.

Toiling on relentlessly, the family replaced the massive staircase window with a stain-glassed one, specially commissioned, from original plans uncovered in London.

The Bolmeijers called upon the services of local craftspeople and used local suppliers in their quest to turn Tulira castle into one of Ireland’s finest privately owned residences.

Femmy and Ruud never quite considered themselves the owners of Tulira, more custodians of a much improved castle resting on ancient lands. The tower of the castle dates back to the 16th century and the 12th century foundations supported an earlier building.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own