Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Donore Castle Co Meath

                                          Above Image: The boggy approach

                                         Above Image: The darkness within...

                            Above Image: Looking up the turret stair (now broken)

                              Above Image: Close up of the projecting stair tower

                                         Above Image: The entrance stile.

In 1429 The King of England Henry VI in an effort to secure the defenses of The Pale, an English controlled area on Ireland's East coast, promised £10 to any of his subjects who would build a Castle to certain specifications. Subsequently a number of these "boutique" castles sprang up on the borders of The Pale over the next few years. While not a certainty, it is widely believed that Donore Castle in County Meath fits that brief.
The Castle, built by the McGeoghegans, has unusual rounded external corners and a projecting round tower on it's South-west corner. The Castle was in use until 1650 when it was then seized by Cromwellian forces and over forty of the McGeoghegan clan put cruelly to death.
The ruins stand today in a field not far from historic Trim and are listed as a National Monument.
We found that access to this field is by way of a large wood and stone stile with wooden planks on the other side to aid crossing a ditch. There is also an information board pinned to the stile which sheds some light on the Castle's history.
Tramping across the field was a bit of a trudge as the ground underfoot was quite boggy in places (appropriate footwear recommended!) and with cattle also present there was a great deal of Cow pats to deal with as well.
The Castle comprises of three storeys and stands at about 40 feet high. All of the walls are intact but there is a large crack on the approach wall. We had read that the Castle gate was usually locked and a key could be obtained from the bungalow on the opposite side of the road, but when we arrived the gate was visibly open. Anticipation of a climb up the tower stair was well and truly shattered upon finding that the staircase was crumbling and parts of it had fallen or were removed. Perhaps the landowner had done this for insurance purposes and therefore no need to lock the gate.
Anyway back inside, the Castle has a vaulted roof on the lower floor and two small windows, but it was difficult too see much as it was quite dark within. Coupled with that was an unfortunate lingering odour which I'm putting down to the cattle possibly wandering in and out of the gate. I believe that there are mural garderobes and a fireplace on the upper floors but now unfortunately they are inaccessible.
One of the Castle's defenses is a machicolation situated at roof level above the door, used to attack any would be assailants from above.
All in all it was a mixed experience, not much to see inside with the stairs gone and no feeling of dread considering it's violent history, but the unusual exterior features are still worth seeing.
To find the ruins, take the R161 from Trim and drive for about 8 miles. You will cross Inchamore Bridge  and thereafter keep your eyes open for a single storey house on your right. The entrance to the field is opposite this house and you can park safely on the verge nearby.

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