Thursday 6 February 2014
Rathmacnee Castle Co Wexford
One of the nicer castle finds in County Wexford, Rathmacnee lies well off the beaten track down a lane way but is a must to make a visit to.
It is believed to have been built in 1451 by John Rossiter whose family owned and kept a number of castles in this area. They were disenfranchised of all their possessions by Cromwell in 1650 but Rathmacnee remained in use until the 1760's then afterwards fell into ruin.
The tall five storey tower is situated at the South East corner of a five sided bawn most of which still stands apart from a large section of the South wall. A modern house has been incorporated into the West wall and it is here that you can obtain a key to access the tower.
As you enter through the arched bawn gate you will notice a large machicolation above it which would have been used to pour boiling liquids and such down upon any assailants.
The castle and bawn are tucked neatly alongside an adjacent churchyard in a lane way. The tower on first view leaves a lasting impression as it dominates the site. The entrance gate leads you into what would have been the courtyard but is now a well manicured garden for the house. It is possible to ascend a set of steps just inside the gate on the right which brings you up to a wall walk on the bawn. On the bawn itself are two rounded bartizans one of which is incomplete. But by far the most interesting feature is of course the tower. Once inside you are confronted with a murder hole above the doorway, a set of stone steps to your left and a large vaulted chamber directly ahead of you. This chamber is quite large and covers the height of two floors. Above the vaulted ceiling is the stone floor of the third level which you can access. The steps from there lead all the way to the top and are steep and narrow in places. All the flooring above the third level is missing as is the roof. Some of the walls have mural chambers.
When you reach the top you can access most of what is left of the wall walk. At most times this is kept locked as according to the owners schoolchildren frequently visit and the walkway is not railed.
The top of the tower is crenellated and there are corner turrets all adding to the unique and decorative look. The views from up here are really worth the climb and from this aspect you can peer back down into the innards of the tower to the various chambers and fireplaces.
We called in here on a summer evening and found the owners quite friendly. We also had the castle to ourselves to explore which is always a plus. We were really excited by our visit here as there was quite a lot to see and the clambering about gave us the appetite we needed to tackle a dinner back at he Hotel at which we were staying. The site is a national monument and there is some information posted on the tower wall.
If you like climbing this one is definitely for you.
To find the ruins take the N25 Wexford to Rosslare road and approx. 2KM after the Rosslare road roundabout you will see a right hand turn for the R739 to Kilmore Quay. Take this turn and drive for approx. 2KM and take the 2nd turn right that you come across. Drive again for approx. 600m and you will see a sign for the castle pointing right down a narrow lane with a walled graveyard and the ruin of a recent church adjacent. You can park safely at the end of the lane.