Sunday, 6 November 2011

Old Lucan Church & Castle Co Dublin

                                      Above Image: One of the Castle's Towers

                        Above Image: Evidence of Freemasonry? The stone reads
                                             "Memento Mort"

                           Below Image: The Ivy Covered Castle ruins nestle Behind
                                                 the Church

 The lands of Lucan were granted to Waris De Peche by Henry II following the Norman invasion. De Peche built a fine Castle on the land and subsequently a Church which was adjoined to the Castle by a doorway. The Church is believed to have been constructed by De Peche for an order of Monks to which he was a patron. This order is believed to be The Canons of St Victor. In the early 1300's De Peche granted the Church to the adjoining Priory of St. Catherines just north of the Lucan Demesne. The church was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. Records show that the Church began a slow descent into ruin in the 1600's.
The Castle itself changed hands many times during it's existence, one of it's occupiers being William Sarsfield. Later, under the ownership of the Vesey family, it was almost fully demolished to make way for a fine new house known to this day as Lucan House. Today it is occupied by the Italian ambassador to Ireland.
Finding the ruins is not hard but they are not clearly evident either. The remains of the Castle form part of the boundry wall of the Italian embassy and are on private land. The Church however, which is adjoined to the Castle ruin on it's southern side, is accessible through a narrow lane way beside O'Neill's Lucan Inn. We walked down to the end of the lane only to find the iron gate padlocked. This is of course common practice in sites such as this to deter any damage to the ruins by anti-social behaviour. It does however pose a problem to anyone interesred in getting close to seeing them. We decided to ask the Pub owner if there was anyone we could talk to about getting access and he said "Give me a few minutes". When he returned he told us that the gate was unlocked and we were free to enter. It would appear that he is the key holder but if you don't ask you don't get. We were very grateful and so set about looking around.
The ruins are quite large. The doorway and windows have unfortunately been bricked up but it appears that there is really only the shell of the Church remaining. The solitude in the grounds is quite amazing considering the busy Village just outside. The day we visited was one of those rare sunny days in November that feel like Springtime.
The Castle ruins can be seen clearly from the graveyard. They consist of a square two storied Tower with a Stair turret.The Turret is especially in quite good condition.
The graveyard holds the remains of the Vesey family and the oldest stone dates back to 1692. It's a pity that there is no further access to the Castle but at least you can get a good view without trespassing on Italian land and causing an international incident!
To find the ruins take the Junction 4 exit for Lucan Village from the N4 and join the Lock Road. At the crossroads at the end of this road, turn left and a few yards later turn right onto Main Street. Parking is available here and the Lucan Inn is on the left. There is an hourly charge for parking Mondays to Fridays but it is free on weekends. To gain access check with the affable owner of the Pub who should be able to assist.


  1. Hi I'm from Lucan, it's good to know that people can actually have a look at the old castle, all this time I assumed that like many of our heritage sites it was locked away from the public indefinitely. I think I'll be visiting O'Neil's this weekend.

    As far as I am aware there was actually two castles in the Demesne, the one that you photographed, and a second one which stood on the site of present-day Lucan house. The second castle was described as being a large square tower house with a number of extensions built on over the years giving it an irregular shape, and a total 12 hearths. By the early 1600's it was already falling into disrepair and by 1771 the Vesey family decided to have it demolished in order to build Lucan house.

    1. Thanks for the comment and all the extra info. Glad the post was of interest. Hope you managed to get it to see the ruins.

    2. Hi I came across this painting of Lucan from the 1600, and thought you might be interested in having a look . It shows the second castle that I mentioned in my post last year.

    3. Hi skullrekan

      Good to hear from you again. I had a look at that painting and see what you mean. The Castle seems to be in and around the position of the current lucan house. I wonder was the old castle demolished to make way for the new house.

  2. Apparently it's not a castle at all but a folly, a family chruch, that's what a guy from the Italian residence says

  3. Me and my partner was yesterday on gravefield where is chruch. Some guy from pub have keys and he opened the Gate. Before this we asked a few local people and they haven't know about it. I'm not suprised if this is closed.
    Guy from pub said something that on italy side lie man with sword and they don't want give access for turist because place is probably haunted because long time ago group of people tried steal sword. Cript is probably open and you can see the skeleton of a lord or something. Of course I don't know did this is true and I started shearching more information about this.

  4. Sounds like he might be talking about St. Michan's church in Dublin city centre. There are skeletons in the crypt there and recently it was the subject of vandalism.