A guide to the best and sometimes off the beaten track historical ruins around Ireland and how to get there.
Friday, 26 August 2011
Old Connaught Church Co Wicklow
Old Connaught Church has a very vague early history. It was built as an oratory and although it looks similar to other middle age Churches, it's date of construction is not presently known. it is mentioned in records as having been attached to the parish of Bray in the early 1600's but is believed to have fallen into a ruinous state in the 1630's. It stands near the Village of Old Connaught, adjacent to the old lands of Ballyman which lead to Enniskerry.
The ruins can be found on Old Connaught Avenue near the Junction of Thornhill Road. The iron gate facing the avenue remains locked by Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council , but I'm sure access could be gained by applying to the Council for permission.
Within, the Church is now covered quite a bit with ivy and what remains seems roughly built with quite a few rounded stones that probably littered the area at the time. There are some very old gravestones around the ruin and although the graveyard is surrounded on three sides by modern housing and a busy road, there remains a very quiet and sombre air to the place.
To find Old Connaught Church, take the M11 from Dublin to Wexford and exit at junction 5. Turn right at the next roundabout onto the R761 and then take the first right hand turn onto Old Connaught Avenue. follow the Avenue to it's junction with Thornhill Rd and you will see the iron gateway in a wall on your left. Alternatively you can approach from Enniskerry by Ballyman Rd which joins Thornhill Rd at it's end.
Tuesday, 23 August 2011
Kindlestown Castle Co Wicklow
Kindlestown Castle is located near the Village of Delgany in Co Wicklow and stands as an example of what is termed a "Hall House". It is believed to have been constructed by Albert De Kenley around 1300AD but more likely to have been completed by the Archbold Family who were prominent in this area at the time.
The Castle was ransacked by Cromwell in September 1649 but remained occupied by the Archbolds until the 17th century when it was purchased by the Earl of Meath. It appears to have remained occupied until at least the 18th century.
We found the Castle tucked away in a sectioned off area of a quiet housing development called Dromont. The only audible sound on this deathly quiet road was the barks of a Dog disturbed by our intrusion.
The castle was under excavation in both 2001 and 2006 and there still appears to be work in progress made evident by the scaffolding and work sheds on site.. It is not accessible at the moment for closer inspection as you are restricted by fencing to about 10 feet from the structure. Only the north wall remains intact and the north eastern tower has collapsed exposing part of the stairwell within. It appears the building was a two storied structure, but little of the rest of the Castle remains beyond this existing wall. Nonetheless it is worth a visit if you happen to be in the area.
To find Kindlestown, take the N11 from Dublin and exit for Delgany just after the Glen of The Downs. Drive through the Village and take the left hand turn at the Wicklow Arms onto Convent Rd. follow this road and it leads onto Chapel Rd. Look for Dromont on your left. The Castle is a Little way down this road on the left hand side.
I will revisit here soon but please note that the Wicklow Arms mentioned above appears to be out of business. If looking for it to direct you onto Convent road the shop front has the name "Macks"
SECOND VISIT FEB 2019
We got a chance recently to revisit here. It's a number of years since our previous visit and all the scaffolding has gone and renovation appears complete as you can see above. You can now get access to the reverse of the wall where some of the interior remains but also a lot at foundation level. It was still worth the time to go back. It's situated in a very quiet location and virtually no one was there on our visit.
Saturday, 20 August 2011
Old Glencullen Church Co Dublin
Old Glencullen Church or St Patrick's Chapel as it is properly known, is a relatively recent ruin. The Church was finished construction in 1824 as the plaque on it's wall proudly proclaims, The Church remained in use until 1909 when Archbishop Walsh unveiled the new St Patrick's Church, a much larger structure built of granite about 50 metres up the road.. The population of the area had grown considerably since the original Church construction and so the old church fell into disuse and eventually ruin. There are also signs that at some time it had been subject to fire.
The ruin stands upon a hillock surrounded by many old graves and it's roofless walls are now invaded by ivy.
Access is still possible as the iron gates outside are unlocked and although the doorways to the church are obstructed by vegetation, you can still get inside. The ground underfoot is packed with broken twigs and such so tread carefully.
Within the walls is a very sombre atmosphere. What was once probably a vibrant Church, is now just a grim carcass, but being a recent ruin it's probably going to be around for a long time yet.We spent about a half hour looking around and although the road outside was fairly busy, nobody else entered the grounds. Inside logs of wood had been stacked against the walls as someone had been cutting back the trees and was probably using it for storage.They had even placed parts of branches across the doorway, possibly to deter any unwanted visitors or antisocial activity.
To find St Patrick's Chapel, take the R117 to Kilternan. At the Blue wooden Church (Our Lady of the Wayside) turn onto Ballybetagh Rd. Follow this road for a couple of miles and just before you reach Johnnie Fox's Pub you will see the Church ruin on your right. You could park in the Pub car park and take a couple of minute walk or park at the gate as we did.
Thursday, 11 August 2011
Old Killegar Church Co Wicklow
Killegar Church is a very ancient ruin, It is believed to have been built in the 9th century with extensions made in the 1100's following the Norman invasion. The Church was mainly constructed with large field stones that were abundant in the area and it is also believed that the later extension used volcanic rock which may have originally been ballast in a Viking ship!
The original site would have been Monastic and would have housed the Monks in beehive shaped huts. A number of archaeological finds were made during the excavation of a sandpit nearby in 1928. These included two iron bells and a large number of ancient graves that were slab lined. Also on site are some very decorative grave slabs which can be found within the ruin standing upright against one of the existing walls. On the western facing end are the remains of an ancient cross. All in all it is a very old and interesting site with many artefacts in evidence.
The one thing about Killegar is that it remotely situated. I'm sure some locals would have better access through private land, but the easiest way for the non local visitor is to follow the old mass path which runs from Monastery Rd . It's a bit of an adventure which will take about 20-25 minutes walk to get to, but it is in no way difficult.
We parked the car in a disused gateway on the right hand side just a few yards before the Texaco station on the Enniskerry Rd. It is not advisable to park in the large gateway or lane way on Monastery rd itself as they are private and will incur the wrath of the owners. It 's only a short walk from where we parked to the first of four stone stiles which will need to be traversed to get to Killegar. The first stile is among some trees on the right hand side of the road and can be accessed easily. This led us down a very narrow leafy lane way ending in a second stone stile. The stiles all have the half moon shaped aperture which apparently was a feature of the mass path identification route.
We climbed over the second stile and traversed a wide meadow. If visiting, keep to the right hand edge and this will lead you directly to the third stile at the other end. This is private land but there is right of way allowed. There are at times either Sheep, Cows or Horses present, so respect the owner's property. There were actually a few Red Deer present when we passed through.
Once over the third stile you will see a property under construction on your right.This is fenced off from the field and you can cross this field diagonally where you will find a gate on the far corner. The gate is tied but you can untie and retie when finished. Here you will spot the last stile and just beyond is the arched gateway to the walls surrounding Killegar. This gate again is tied so retie when leaving.
Within the walls you will notice that the graveyard is still in use and that the ruins of Killegar Church stand on raised ground above this. From the ruins you can get a great view of Bray Head to the east. There are as mentioned some of the ancient grave slabs on display. The only parts remaining of Killegar Church are the Chancel walls, but there is a great sense of history about the place. As usual, we seemed to be the only people about apart from one builder working on the roof of building in the adjacent field and he even disappeared after a while. Although it's off the beaten track, it is well worth your while to make this enjoyable journey.
To find your way to Killegar, take the R117 from Kilternan towards Enniskerry. A short distance after The Scalp you will come to a Texaco station where the road forks. Just to the right a little before the station is the disused gateway where you can park. Walk along the road to the right of the Texaco; this is Monastery Road. After about 100 yards you will find the first stile. If visiting, attempt to do so on a dry day, as some of the fields could turn out to be quite muddy.
Monday, 8 August 2011
Monktown Castle Co Meath
Not a lot remains of Monktown Castle, just the north-east tower and the northern facing wall.. The ruin stands four storeys high and is believed to have been constructed in the late medieval period. It stands now on what is private ground near Balrath Cross on the road to Duleek
We sought some directions to this ruin from a publican in Skreen, a Village not too far away and once we were on the right road, we had no difficulty in locating it. The Castle stands in a field close to the road and you can park easily on the grassy verge outside the gate. There is a sign on the gate which says "sanctuary" and this accounts for the numerous well groomed horses ambling around the place. As there were no "Keep Out" signs we decided to climb over and take a quick close up look.
The Castle shows signs that it once had a bawn or large house attached to it and one can assume that the stairs must have been within that structure or in a similar Tower on the southern end. The archway beneath the Castle is now being used by the aforementioned Horses as a shelter.
We were on our way to Athcarne Castle that day, so it was good to take a slight detour to take in Monktown on our way.
To find the ruin, take the N2 as far as Balrath Cross and then turn onto the R153 heading west. Continue on until you see a grey Church on your left at a crossroads. Turn right here and continue on through the next crossroads and you will see Monktown ahead of you.
Sunday, 7 August 2011
Kilgobbin Castle Co Dublin
Kilgobbin Castle was constructed in Norman times and was passed from the Hacketts to the Walsh family in the 15th century. It was one of several Castles along the boundary of The Pale, the others included Bullock Castle in Dalkey and Carrickmines Castle, which is now unfortunately buried beneath a motorway. Kilgobbin was occupied by a succession of Walsh generations until 1641 when they were dispossessed. It remained occupied by several further owners until in fell into ruin in the mid 1830's.
The Castle is basically a tall square tower structure. Over the years it has been invaded by ivy and now only two of the walls still fully stand, the rest buried beneath the vegetation. It was last occupied in it's semi-ruinous state by a derelict old man who made somewhat of a shelter out of it. Since then the only rumoured occupants are the spectres of a man in heavy clad armour and a white robed woman carrying something unknown in her arms.
The Castle now sits in it's ivy bed just behind the walls of a private house on Kilgobbin Road. We located it from a posting on the Internet by a visiting tourist who drove into the property on hearing of the existence of a castle and was promptly greeted by a large Dog on the lawn. Needless to say he left quickly without exiting the car.
We arrived and parked at the gate pillars and had a look inside the open gates. To the left, at one end of the large lawn, stood a large house and on the right a clump of trees, This was, we were sure, where the ruin was situated. On the steps of the house sat a large hound as was mentioned by the previous visitor and although not moving, eyed us warily. I felt if we took one step further he'd be on us in an instant. Not wanting to get savaged or to chicken out, we had to make a decision. On one of the gates was an intercom, so I pressed the top button and actually got hold of one of the owners. Once we explained our position they said it would be no problem and even offered to take the Dog inside while we were there.
That said, it didn't take long to look around. The Castle is inaccessible due to the very thick and thorny vegetation which has been allowed to grow around. You can't blame the owners as otherwise it would more than likely be a magnet for anti-social activity. The sheer height of the Tower remains fully evident and it must have been quite imposing in it's time.There were no signs of the aforementioned ghosts but all the same it was well worth seeing, especially as it is so well hidden now from the public view.. I don't know of any right of way for the public since it is lies on private ground and though the gates seem always open, we would suggest that if visiting, to ring the intercom first.
To find the Castle, take the R117 from Sandyford towards Kilternan. At Stepaside, take the left hand turn at the Garda station onto Kilgobbin Rd. Just after Kilgobbin Lane there is a bend in the road. The gates to the property are on the left at this bend.
Tuesday, 2 August 2011
Athcarne Castle Co Meath
right hand corner
Athcarne Castle is situated in an area of Co Meath known as Eastmeath.The Castle comprises of an Elizabethan Tower House, a three storied mansion and a corner Turret. The original Tower & Mansion were built by William Bathe in 1590 and the Bathe family resided there for many generations producing some notable personalities in the Legal and political arenas. The Castle lies just six miles from the site of the Battle of the Boyne and it is said that James II stayed here on the night before the event.
In 1830 a turret was the added making the existing structure an even more formidable building. The last occupant was James Gernon who lived there until the 1950's when the building was partly demolished and has stayed in a state of dangerous ruin since.
I have to say that we have been to many Castles and Abbeys where we felt uneasy, but this place had a distinctly foreboding air about it. The Castle is very much hidden and wasn't easy to find, but eventually down a narrow grassy lane we saw a part of the turret peeking through the tree branches. We pulled up outside a padlocked gate and a sign saying Danger, keep out. The Castle is in a high state of disrepair and there is a lot of rubble around it's base which was put there by the OPW in the 1980's from an old church demolished elsewhere, so it's not surprising that the public are encouraged to stay away. The gate was locked, but you could climb over and take a quick look, There were a number of nearby Dogs barking so we did not want to draw undue attention. We found another gate at the top of the lane which had an open padlock on it and this led you around the back of the Castle where although it is fenced off from access, you can get amazing views. We noticed a stagnant pool of water at one point and this it seems is all that remains of a boating pool.
Legends about the Castle include cries of dying soldiers heard at night and the spectre of a hanged soldier on the great Oak tree adjacent. The most disturbing tale is a recent one by a local worker who claimed to have seen the face of "a demented girl with blood covered hands" All very disturbing indeed. On looking at our photos later there is one image (shown above) where it seems there is there is someone odd looking at us through the left hand aperture of a ruined outer building. Enlarged it becomes more odd. Apparently this was a storehouse called the "Shell House" and these apertures may have carried roof timbers so they are not very large which makes it all the more strange. Needless to say after a short while we began to feel it was time to move on as there was a definite feeling of not being wanted there. Nobody (Human) disturbed us on our visit. We would recommend a viewing but certainly not just before or after dark.
Athcarne is but a shadow of it's former self, a derelict insanity seems to haunt it and it stands jagged and unwelcoming.
To find the Castle on the N2 to Slane take the right hand turn at Balrath Cross for Duleek. The 2nd right hand turn down this road will lead you down a Cul-De-Sac. About halfway down a small lane way veers to the left. Take this route and you will find the Castle at it's end.
This one is dedicated to you SRBO.
Many thanks to "Saoirse" for the amended local information. We are only sorry we didn't get to speak to you on the day!
SECOND VISIT AUGUST 2016
corner of window
I have been meaning for a while to return to this interesting ruin and hopefully get a closer look than on my initial visit. So on a fine late Summer afternoon we found ourselves again at the rusted iron gate leading to Athcarne Castle. The old "Danger Keep Out" sign was still posted way above anyones line of sight so you wouldn't even notice it. Surprisingly we didn't have to clamber over the gate as the overgrowth to its left hand side had been cleared and there was a gap you can easily walk through. The site is used by the State as a storage facility for stone blocks hence the adjacent sheds in the courtyard. The site has been cleared somewhat so it is very easy to circumnavigate the ruins at close range although lots of large stone blocks and rubble have been placed around the possible entry points to make it difficult to try and get in. The subject of "getting in" can now be safely said to be next to impossible as all of the ground floor doorways and windows have been gated up, locked with humongous padlocks and on top of all this wonderful "keep out cake" a topping of good old barbed wire for good measure! The one and only possible entry point is a window on the North East face which is positioned about twelve feet off the ground and is festooned with overgrowth. Yet there is a blue coloured rope dangling down from the sill where no doubt some young enterprising and probably foolhardy persons have succeeded in entering to God knows what sort of landing on the other side. The temptation of finding and climbing the still existing stone spiral stairs that lies within it seems will drive some to any measures. On this occasion I thought discretion was the better part of valour and declined the ropey challenge. I will admit that the idea of bringing along an extendable ladder did flit though my mind.
Regardless of the non entry this visit was a much more satisfying one. The shell house where I last seemed to capture a face looking out is now overgrown and so Mr Face will have to look out elsewhere.
The one thing that I can say is that I didn't realize how imposing a ruin it is up close. It literally looms above you on elevated ground with its windows like eyeless sockets forcing you to stare through them always drawing your attention to some derelict detail within. As mentioned before this castle is supposedly very badly haunted. Some of its residents are said to be the ghost of James II who stayed here before carrying on to hjs death at the Battle of the Boyne and a demented girl with blood dripping from her hands. Add in cries in the night of those being slaughtered in the Boyne Battle, a Spectre hanging from a tree and even the Devil himself who is said to have made an appearance here. A lot to worry about then and believe me even on what was a fine sunny day there was still an underlying unease about the place, not tangible enough to notice immediately but after a while sets about a definite feeling of not being welcome. Go when you can and go soon as the days are getting ever shorter and in my opinion this would not be a place to be when dusk blankets over Athcarne's eerie dereliction.
On the Road from Balrath crossroads to Duleek where you take the second right hand turn for the Castle ruins there is a large stone cross to see. This cross was erected as a way marker in 1675 by Sir Luke Bathe and his wife Dame Cecelia Dowdall who were then residents of Athcarne Castle.
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