A guide to the best and sometimes off the beaten track historical ruins around Ireland and how to get there.
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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This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
I just found this, I know the original post was about a year ago but I have a question if anyone knows. Saoirse you seem to have very good local knowledge.ReplyDelete
I have a vague recollection of a story told to me by an old man in a pub :D (O'Neills I think it may have been)
The story was about a man who planned to jump from the top of the castle as some kind of stunt. He had something set out to land on maybe hay or something, but on the day the wind was strong and he was advised to postpone the event but he refused and jumped anyway?
as I said the story is vague and it was many years ago just wondering does anyone have any knowledge of this happening?
yes, the story told to me by my grandfather who was born and lived on the same laneway was this.,,,,,,,,,,,, a very smart dressed man visited the castle and ended up playing cards with the others late into the night.ReplyDelete
he won every game and the people were getting bothered by this.they knew he was cheating
a woman who worked there got suspicious and looked down to see he had no feet. she whispered to the others around that it was 'old nick' i.e.the devil
the woman sprinkled holy water around the doorways and windows to trap him.
then when the men then went to grab him to get their money back he jumped on to a table and tried to get out the top window
but he couldnt pass the holy water and he went into the wall.and the plaster disappeared at that particular spot immediatelly.
in 1970 my grandfather showed me the exact spot on the wall.
the plaster was off the wall and the red brick could be seen
its very unusual because the plaster is intact elsewhere.
i visited the castle in march 2013 and its still the same at that spot
this next bit im not so sure about but here goes.
they tried to plaster up the spot but it would always fall off.
due to believeng therefore that he was still trapped in the wall
they bricked up the windows on that side of the castle.this can be observed from the inside.
they also built a turret an the same corner with two perminent crucifix structured in on one side and also on the other side
the plaster still wouldnt stay on at the window
if you look at the red brick spot in the photograph (two photos above) you can see a perfect corpse like face just to the left of the lower turret crucifix.
unfortunately i know a bit about the 'demented' girl but thats for another time
Lots to think about there. I have to say it was a very stark place with an unwelcoming vibe.keep the information coming!
I just went and had a look today..I really enjoyed seeing the Castle,It did have an eerie feel to it but was quite nice as well,I seen the sign Danger do not enter,but climbed the gate and went inside anyway,ReplyDelete
I met a very nice gentleman that lives in the first house beside the castle and the reason for the dogs barking is he keeps and breeds greyhounds,
He said it wasn't a big deal to go and look at the Castle that it is owned by the Local Council and the reason its barricaded up is because of local youths climbing around and playing in the turrets etc,
He had a good knowledge of the castle and all the trees that are planted around the castle are done by him around 1990 he planted 1000 trees,
And the Hanging tree was already gone,
He told of a couple that stayed in the car over night there and they had seen a woman looking out the window all night they thought that part of the castle was still habitable until he told them there was no floor there lol...!
He said she is seen quiet regular looking out the window as if she is waiting for someone and she is supposed to be very beautiful with high cheekbones and a prominent face.
I had to rush off but I would have loved to have stayed and chatted longer..I will definitely go back and spend some more time there,I wore shorts today which isn't a great idea right now as there is a lot of stinging nettles in the long grass around part of the castle,
Its worth the drive down to see,I love the fact that there is so many Castle ruins around Meath Its a nice way to spend the day,check out the castles on the internet and and hour later be looking at magnificent history!!
Enjoy your day out all,
By the way Castlehunter you have a great Blog thanks..thats the second Castle from your list I have been to this week and I have another off your list planned for tomorrow...happy hunting :)ReplyDelete
Thanks for posting Derek and especially thanks for all that information you gained from the resident. I think its one of the eeriest castles I've visited and will definitely go back and go further inside.Glad to be of help with the directions this was always my plan to help others find and enjoy these sites as much as I do.Delete
Happy hunting to you to.
I really want to visit this after finding out William bathe is a relative of mine. How I would love to restore this castle.
I have just found this blog, late I know, I was looking into it as I too have William and Hugo de Bathe as my ancestors! We are visiting Ireland this year and I would LOVE to visit this CastleDelete
Yes its really an amazing Castle which i suspect is not beyond restoring. it must have been a fine residence in its time
I played in the castle in the 50s when it was still intact and the inside still had all it's floors and marble fireplaces and as kids we spent a lot of time inside the castle. I'm not sure why the castle was gutted and left roofless but it was supposedly because roofed buildings were taxed by the government at the time. It's a shame that this magnificent old castle wasn't preserved and restored because it it could have been a rival to Bunratty castle as a tourist attraction. As kids we knew all the gory legends attached to the castle but they only added to the thrill of playing inside and outside. Happy memories....Jim WallDelete
Hi Jim, do you remember any particular details from inside? Was there a basement? Was there a second back staircase beside the kitchen? Many Thanks for any details of interest you can recall.Delete
My grandfather Owen Neary (1861-1934)of Cookstown,Ardee, lists Mary Gernon of Athcairn Castle Co Meath as one of his great-great grandmothers. She lived from 1746 till 1780. Would anyone have further information on this family please?ReplyDelete
i did a hitoric collection of the gernons of athcarn while i was researching my own affairs. i have over a hundred newspaper cuttings i can email you about births marriages deaths however i cannot find gernons in atcharn pre1833 let me know if you want the help youll have to jigsaw all the info together im afraid as i never got round to study it all >>>no mary mentioned but tom james graham henry and william gernon >>also a few court records
Thanks for your offer Lorcan. I only saw your reply yesterday after another visit to the Castle. My grandfather records that Mary Gernon, daughter of Gernon of Athcairn Castle was born in 1746, married Owen Markey of Reynoldstown in 1764, died on 4th April 1780 and is buried in Mayne graveyard, Clogherhead. I don't think that the later material would be relevant to my ancestry but if anyone had information on the Gernons from the early 18th century I would be very interested to learn about it.........Delete
CHECK OUT THR GERNONS ONE MILE NORTH FROM LOUTH VILLAGE CO LOUYH THEYRE THE SAME FAMILYDelete
Hi Lorcan, Would be really interested in seeing your research on the Gernon's. The Gernons bought Athcarne sometime around 1820-1830's. That's when they did extensive remodelling of the place, knocking down the old elizabethan mansion that joined onto the tower house and rebuilding a more modern wing. Before them, the Garnett's lived there. Trying to get dates for when the Garnett's bought Athcarne and when they sold it but its very vague so far. There seem to be lots of overlapping dates.ReplyDelete
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I was there today. Have to say I didn't feel uneasy there but did feel an overwhelming sense of pity for the old castle as it has fallen into such ruin and disrepair. The O..P.W have been doing some clearing and sorting of the rubble around the castle. Maybe some day the right people will restore it to it's former gloryReplyDelete
Hi Rachel, Good to hear from you. I'm glad t hear some work is being done. I intend to return there in the spring and hopefully get a chance to climb the interior stairs. It really is a great looking castle.Delete
Hi.I have an old picture of the castle with windows and doors and roof ,from its former glorie in the days. I'm trying to post Picture here . How do I do this regards DavidReplyDelete
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Due to blogger privacy you can't actually post picture on someone elses blog. What you could do is post it on Flickr and post the link on this site. I'm sure a lot of people including myself would like to see it.
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Hi, I have set up a Facebook page on Athcarne Castle with a fairly extensive history of the castle going back to 1172. FinbarReplyDelete
Great stuff Finbar I'm going to check that out right now.Delete
Thanks Finbar. I'm going to check that out right away.ReplyDelete
hi last year i had went up to this castle at midnight and i had a local come with me as i knew him he seemed to know his stuff about this castle and i live nearby aswell but anyway last year i had just climbed over the 6 bar rusty gate to an eerie feeling about the air as if i had been watched the whole time i had been there.After my inspection i was on the way out as i was passing the main door i almost swore i had seen a tall silhouette with a crown on head i took no heed as i thought it was my mind playing tricks so after the next few steps i could hear this deep whisper in my head saying"get out" i dont know if it was paranoia or not but i turned around to the local and he had said my face went from blushed red to completely pale white so i decided to get out of there.i also went up today as my friends wanted to see it i went up around 8:30 and even at that it still felt as if i had been watched and i also kept getting flashbacks from that day its safe to say i felt so bad that such a beautiful castle had fallen to ruinReplyDelete
Thats a creepy tale. But it doesn't surprise me. There is a distinct atmosphere about the place and has drawn a lot of comment on this post. I will be going there again soon but your experience is a bit unnerving. Thanks for posting
Do you have any knowledge of the Bathe family tree up to 1850? We are related to John Bathe born either 1805 or 1820 who married Ann. They had 3 children, Chritopher B 1834, John born1838 or 1840 and Ann born around 1849. They immigrated to the states around 1852. Any help or direction would be greatly appreciated. Thank youReplyDelete
Hi, i don't have any further information myself but you might try one of the posters in the comments section as they seem to have a great deal of backround on AthcarneReplyDelete
I was here today. Just a few things odd from my experience. I walked around the site on my own looking to take some pictures. Its quite a large ruin and im sure at one stage a beautiful place. Not any more but amazing for other reasons. I too felt uneasy and I managed to stay there for about 10 mins before hurrying back to my car. I followed the tracks around to the back took some photos and video and returned back to the gate. Before I read the above, I thought it was just me but a few things which happened in the 10 mins I was there. My phone died it was about 90% charged when I got out of the car and was very hot. This had never happened before. Also when I got home I had a sore neck. I thought I got a bite or something but appears as a red line around my neck. It disappeared after about 30 mins. I would love to go back but whatever is there is obviously didnt want me there.ReplyDelete
Check out my photos here:
take a look at the top photo of the castle..
can you see a sleeping ''corpse like face'' in the full of the red brick at the top of the castle
Hi Lorcan, I see what you mean. Just to the left of the tower. That is extremely creepy....Delete
Thanks for sharing your experience and photos Jonathan. Very eerie indeed. The red line around your neck is the most strange of all. Thee was instaces of hangings here in its past. Luck escape on your part I would say!ReplyDelete
hi again, take another look and youll see its the very face of king james 2 who spent his last night there before the battle of the boyne began the next day..he actually owned the castle and rented it out to the bathe family at the timeDelete
I've just took a look at a few images of James II online.....that is incredible Lorcan and a bit unsettling to say the least.Delete
if you hear any stories about the badly named ''demented girl'' at athcarne, will you let me know as i have a particular interest in her desire to rest in peace and im depending on any kind of feedback whatsoever...ReplyDelete
Hi this is a few years later but today me and my five friends went up there today at 8pm and I managed to get a very spine chilling picture of a girl leaning out of the middle story looking at me in the photo.. thing is that there’s no floors in the castle. It was likely a ghost and maybe it was of her?Delete
Ive added a few additional images here if anyone is interested maybe someone will see something here I couldnt see.ReplyDelete
Great photos JohnnyBDelete
Okay hey everyone few years later but hey my names Katie I’m 16 years old and fascinated with ghosts. My friend lives down the road from the castle so we got a few other friends up and decided to visit the castle when it got dark. Me and my five friends left at 8pm down the road. We were well equipped with our flashlights, night vis and of course my Sony camera. Walking down the pitch black roads was scary but we had good torches. We entered the ground after 15 minutes. When we got there I got my camera out and snapped a few pictures with flash on of the castle. We also all got a group photo. I took another photo and instantly felt a pit in my stomach. I told the others that it’s time to go. We were only there around 6 minutes. I felt adrenaline running through the me as we walked quickly back. I was so relieved to be out of there. When back in my friend’s house I was looking thrift the photos. My heart dropped as I seen in one photo I took there was a clear image of what seemed a girl looking out the window on the middle story. With a white face and black hair. I still feel it’s crazy that I got something like that in camera. We also vlogged most of the trip too. For a couple of teenagers I think this has been the scary nights I’ve ever had. I’m thinking of sending the picture into the local newspaper. I wish I could show the picture on this. Is there a way? A bit scared to sleep tonight!ReplyDelete
Hi Katie, thanks for telling your experiences. I don't think blogger facilitates other photos but you could post them on google drive and share the link here. I for one would like to see the figure in the window!Delete
Katie, also try IMGUR. It's a photo storing site which will give you a link to share.Delete
Thanks so much for getting back and here’s the photo!ReplyDelete
Thanks for that Katie! really weird. kind of like the face that showed up in one of my photos above. I was told that the head was in an impossible position. maybe she floats.. anyway cool photo. let me know how you get on when you go back/Delete
That one won’t work here’s the unrestricted ones!ReplyDelete
^thats of the women looking out window
That window is 6 ft tall and 5 ft wide so she must have a big head!ReplyDelete
Yeah! Very strange indeed… either something natural or a ghost entity.. I’ll be going back there again at night to try catch something againReplyDelete
OOOPS ILOOKED AT THE TWO LINKS YOU SENT BUT I ONLY SEE FADED GARGOYLE SKULL IMAGES IN THE MIDDLE MIDDLE WINDOW DIRECTLY ABOVE THE LOWER WINDOW WITH THE RAILING. IHAVE AN EYE FOR THESE THINGS BUT CANNOT SEE THE GIRLS FACE UNLESS YOURE SAYING THAT THE GIRL IS THE WHITE SHAPE ON THE LEFT HAND WINDOW. I KNOW WHO THIS GIRL IS/WAS. SHE WAS A 12 YEAR OLD GIRL KILLED ON THE ATHCARNE CASTLE LANE OVER130YEARS AGOReplyDelete
Hey thanks for your reply! Do you know anything more about the girl?? Also I don’t notice the faded gargoyle skull wow!Delete
Where is the faded gargoyle skull you’re seeing??Delete
Also yes the girl in the far left window is who I believe could be some sort of entity??Delete
I HAVE TAKEN TWO SCREENSHOTS OF YOUR IMAGE BUT I CANT ATTACH THEM ON THIS SITE TO SHOW YOU WHAT IM SEEING. BU HAVE A GO YOURSELF.IF YOU EXPAND THE IMAGE YOULL SEE SMOKEY SHAPES OF FACES STARING BACK. I HAVE AN EYE FOR THESE THINGS FOR EXAMPLE DID YOU SEE THE CORPSE FACE IN THE RED BRICK PART OF THE CASTLE, THAT I SPOKE ABOUT ON 23 AUG 2017....THE WEE GIRL WAS A RELATION OF MINE; BUT THIS BLOG WONT LET ME UPLOAD ANY NEWSPAPER DETAILS TO YOU PS I STILL DONT SEE THE GIRL IN YOUR IMAGE UPLOAD, COULD YOU HELP ME HERE AND SAY IF THE GIRL YOU SEE IS THE WHITE SHAPE THATS SHOWING IN THE LEFT HAND WINDOWReplyDelete
ALSO I HAVE A SCREENSHOT OF A ARTISTS IMAGERY THAT I FOUND ON AN ATHCARNE WEBSITE, IT WAS LABELLED DEMENTED GIRL BUT I KNOW SHE WASNT DEMENTED SHE WAS IN A TOTAL STATE OF TRAUMA AND SHOCK AND DIED IN A HOUSE ON THE ATHCARNE LANE NEARBY BUT A RESTLESSNESS CONTINUED IN THAT AREA AFTERWARDS FOR YEARS BUT WASNT SPOKEN ABOUTReplyDelete