A guide to the best and sometimes off the beaten track historical ruins around Ireland and how to get there.
Wednesday, 29 June 2011
The Bottle Tower Co Dublin
The Bottle Tower or Hall's Barn as it was originally called, was commissioned in 1743 by Major Hall of Whitehall House which stood on the land on which the Tower still stands. It is believed to have been created as relief work for the local poor who were still reeling from a then recent severe famine. Designed as a granary barn with living quarters on the upper level it was a similar structure to the more prominent "Wonderful Barn" which was constructed on the Castletown estate in Leixlip around the same time. (see post here)
The structure, conical in shape with stone steps spiraling around the exterior, can be said to look a little like an old milk bottle and more than likely that's where the present name originated.
It now stands close to the road just behind the walls of a private residence, although nobody seemed to mind when we invaded the garden to take some photos. The doors are sadly boarded up so no access is possible and the outside steps are quite worn and too hazardous to attempt to climb, but it's worth seeing as it appears to be only one of two of these structures standing, the other being the aforementioned "Wonderful Barn".
To find The Bottle Tower take the R112 from Dundrum and turn left at the Bottle Tower Pub (named of course after our subject) then swing right onto Nutgrove Avenue. When you reach the crossroads at Nutrove Shopping Centre take the right turn onto Whitehall Rd and follow on down until you see the Tower on your left. It is a residential area and you can park alongside it on the road.
Saturday, 25 June 2011
Black Castle Co Wicklow
Black Castle can be said to be similar to Carrigagunnel Castle (see post here) in as much as there are only a few jagged fragments of it remaining. But what is there is quite dramatic, especially in it's location atop a rock promontory jutting out from the historic town of Wicklow.
History has it that during the Norman invasion around 1169, Earl Strongbow was granted the lands on the eastern coast and he in turn passed these to Maurice Fitzgerald with the intention of Fitzgerald building a number of fortified castles to protect the area. Black Castle was one of these but Fitzgerald died before it's completion.
The castle came under many attacks from the infamous O'Tooles and O'Byrnes of Wicklow and the O'Byrnes finally managed to destroy the fortress in 1301. They in turn were dispossessed of it in 1534 and it returned to the control of the English crown. It was finally razed around 1580.
Full access to the ruins have been made possible by the OPW & Wicklow County Council. The area around the promontory has been landscaped and some ancient cannons have been dotted around the site to lend credence to how strategic a location this was.
You can walk down and then up some worn and slightly steep steps (be careful on a wet day as these could be tricky) and gain access to what was the interior. Very little remains, but the views from this spot are astounding. You can also climb down some hand railed steps to the stony little inlet below the promontory where the view upwards of the Castle is amazing.
To find Black Castle take the N11 from Dublin to Wexford. Take the R750 exit for Rathnew and Wicklow. Follow the R750 through Rathnew and on into Wicklow Town. When you have passed the Market St. Square in Wicklow Town, take the next left turn onto Castle St. Disc parking is available at the end of this street just adjacent to the Castle.
SECOND VISIT MAY 2018
A quick visit back to this striking ruin. Still one of my favourite spots. Just wanted to get a few additional shots.
Friday, 24 June 2011
Old Kilgobbin Church Co Dublin
Built on an ancient site named after St Gobban, Kilgobbin Church stands atop a grassy hill and still stands out against the plethora of modern housing that has been allowed to surround it below. At the base of the Hill stands a 12th century High cross one of the remnants of the old site which is now being worn away by the sands of time. This present Church is only a few hundred years old but fell into ruin following the union of churches in the area in 1826.
Access to the ruin is quite easy as evident by some of the daubing of local Graffiti artists.You can park just at the base where there is a more modern cemetery and a steeping narrow trail will bring you to the top. It's worth a look especially if you are in the vicinity where you can also see Puck's Castle and Old Kilternan Church ruins.Look out for the resident Cat (a familiar perhaps?).
To find the ruin take the R117 to from Sandyford to Stepaside Village. Turn left in the Village at the Garda station onto Kilgobbin Rd.and then take the first left onto Kilgobbin Lane. The Church is a little way down on the left hand side,.
Monkstown Castle Co Dublin
Monkstown Castle lies in a nicely kept green area near the Village of Monkstown. The Castle was built between the 14th and 15th centuries by the Cistercian Monks of St Mary's Abbey as a stronghold to protect the area from the frequent attacks of the O'Tooles and O'Byrnes of Wicklow. The Castle originally consisted of three strong towers and thick walls surrounding a large house within. Two of the towers remain today but there is nothing left of the inner house. The Castle has had a long history. When the Monasteries were dissolved in 1539 the lands passed to Sir John Travers and subsequently to The Cheevers family in 1660. In 1580 it was used as a rebellion stronghold.
The remains of the Castle today are quite Striking. sitting on the edge of a roundabout they are the last thing you would expect to come across. The area surrounding is residential, so there are plenty of places to park and take a stroll around.
The towers still look quite solid but the doors are bricked up. whether this is for safety reasons or to detract any anti-social behaviour is debatable, but the rest of the area is quite accessible.We visited on a Saturday afternoon and although the road was busy outside there were only one or two people about. The once inner courtyard is now a very well kept lawn.
To find Monkstown Castle take the R119 from Blackrock. When you reach the very architecturally striking Church Of Ireland you will see that the road forks to the left and right. Take the right hand fork. This is Carrickbrennan Rd. About 300 Yards down this road you will find the Castle on the far side of the roundabout.
Saturday, 18 June 2011
Puck's Castle Co Dublin
Puck's Castle lies in a grazing pasture in the Parish of Rathmichael in South East Co Dublin. Not Much is known about it except that it is the ruins of a 16th century fortified house which apparently provided shelter for James II in retreat from the Battle of The Boyne. The ruin is now seriously crumbling although there is still much of a stone stairs intact inside.The name "Puck's" derives from the Gaelic "Pooka" which is a ghost or spirit and lends to the local legends of it being a haunted spot. Access to the Castle is prohibited by a locked gate with a beaten up no trespassing sign. If there is no one around you could jump over the gate and make a quick visit, but on any occasion we have been there it is usually surrounded by grazing Cows. These timid looking creatures are fine but unfortunately they are protected by the Castlehunter's greatest foe.....the resident Bull. This creature eyed us up directly, almost goading us to just try and climb over that gate. Nonetheless it is a good place to visit on a fine evening as we did during June. Beware, if the Bull doesn't get you the hordes of flies certainly will!
Addendum: We revisited Pucks in May 2012 and not a cow to be seen, so over the gate we went for a quick browse of the interior. These Photos have been added to this post.
To find Puck's Castle take the R117 from Kilternan to Enniskerry. After you have passed the Blue wooden Church in Kilternan take the first left after the service station . This is the R116 Ballycorus Rd. Travel along this road and take the 2nd right hand turn Puck's Castle Lane. You will find the castle a few hundred yards up the lane on your left. It is possible to park tightly against the gate as there are no other nearby spots on this narrow lane.
Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Old Kilternan Church Co Dublin
Here's an interesting little ruin worth a visit if you happen to be in the Kilternan/Enniskerry area.This is the original parish Church of Kilternan. It is first listed as a parish in records dating from 1406, but the church itself was probably built in the 12th century. In 1630 the parish was conjoined with Bray and the land passed to the Fitzwilliam family. The church no longer in use soon fell into ruin.Curiously enough the grounds and the interior of the church remained in use as a burial ground with stones dating back to at least the 1700's. It is named today The Bishops Lane Burial Ground as not to confuse with the Blue Roman Catholic Church and The Church of Ireland that are situated on either end of Kilternan Village.
The Church is set higher than the road on a grassy area now overgrown but quite accessible. The road below is but a narrow lane and difficult to park in. We parked in front of a locked field gate just beyond the little stone bridge about 100 yards down the lane way to the left of the Church.
To find the ruin take the R117 towards Enniskerry from Kilternan. When you reach the blue wooden Church on your right take the immediate right hand turn. This road is called Ballybetagh Rd. Follow on up this road and shortly you will come to a sharp left turn. The Ballybetagh Rd continues to the left towards Glencullen but the lane way directly ahead is Bishops Lane. Drive down carefully as its quite narrow and you will find the Old Church ruins on your left.
Sunday, 12 June 2011
Moor Abbey Co Tipperary
Moor Abbey lies in the Glen of Aherlow in the shadow of the Galtee Mountains. It was founded by Donough O'Brien Earl of Thomond as the first Franciscan Friary in the 13th century. It had a chequered history, suppressed by the Earl of Desmond in 1540 and burned twice in 1569 and 1570. The Franciscans returned in 1645 and were expelled again by the Cromwellian forces. It was 1658 before they could once again occupy the Abbey. They finally left for the last time in 1748 and the Abbey fell into ruin.
While Moor Abbey is striking, it is but a simple Church and tall tower. Nothing remains of the cloister and outbuildings and you will find your visit brief. But it is nonetheless worth your time especially if you are in the area and have visited the magnificent Athassel Abbey.In Moor there are some fine examples of archwork, especially the entrance door and within some interesting stone carvings can be seen.. The Abbey is situated near the town of Galbally in the very scenic Glen of Aherlow.
To find the Abbey, take the R662 from Tipperary town to Galbally. Once in the town of Galbally you will find the Town Square (ironically triangular!). Take the left hand road the R663 and you will shortly come across the Abbey. There is ample parking to the left of the ruins.
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