Friday 6 December 2013

Newtown Castle & Church Co Kilkenny

                                 Above Image: The entrance & electric fencing

                               Above Image: View of the Castle from the Church

                                            Above Image: The East gable

We discovered these ruins on the way to Callan Friary (See earlier post here) We were driving on a country back road and the tower caught my attention.
The Castle, a four storey tower in fair outer condition stands on private land. We attempted to find an access point but the one field gate approx 100m North of the Castle had a "no trespassing" sign upon it. So we relented this time hoping we might come across someone to ask permission of.
The Castle stands on elevated ground from the road behind a hedgerow and ditch and the base appears to be surrounded by electrified fencing. The entrance is in the North facing wall and there is apparently a murder hole within and a spiral staircase that leads to the top. This stairway has been blocked no doubt for safety reasons.
Records date the Castle to 1628 but it's overall look would probably be more likely of late 15th or early 16th century. Details are vague but there was a prominent family in the area called the Sweetmans and it may have been somehow associated with them.
Meeting someone on the road was seemingly not on the cards. It's a very sparsely populated road but on travelling a couple of hundred metres North we discovered the ruins of a Church set back from the road. There was a gate we could park at and a rudimentary track led us up to the graveyard that surrounds the Church.
The ruins are of the Church of All Saints, a fairly ordinary rectangular shaped medieval building with a nice decorative window in the East gable. The interior walls seem smoother than they should be and may have been altered more recently. Other than some grave markers with carved crosses the Church remains undistinguished except for the wonderful view it affords of the Castle.
The visit was still worth the stop and would have been more rewarding if we could have accessed the Castle. But as they say there's always next time!
To find the ruins, take the N76 South towards Callan from Kilkenny and drive for approx. 12KM until you see a left turn for the R692 for Callan. Turn left and then take the next left turn signposted for Kells. Drive for approx. 2KM until you reach a fork in the road. Keep to the right and continue for approx. 3KM. There are a lot of  small lane ways on this road but you need to take the first right hand road that is properly lined. You will know you are on the right road as you'll see the Castle tower on the horizon. Drive down on this narrow road and you will see the Church ruins set back from the road on your right. You can park here to visit both.

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