Friday 24 April 2015

Irishtown Castle Co Dublin

                                         Above Image: South facing aspect

                                  Above Image: Doorway in East facing wall

This modest castle was constructed in 1601 by Alderman Patrick Browne on lands passed to him. He and his wife resided there but its term of use was quite short. During the rebellion in 1642 the castle then defended by a garrison of 10 men found themselves conscripted into the confederate army and the Castle as with nearby Deansrath Castle (see earlier post here ) was lay siege to by English forces and no doubt suffered the same fate as Deansrath which was almost destroyed. A view of Irishtown Castle by the artist Gabriel Beranger from 1772 shows the Castle Roofless and pretty much in ruin.
Today the castle remains are surrounded by a modern housing estate and serve as a kind of monument within the estate given its own little corner in a cul-de-sac.
I visited on a quiet Friday morning to have look at this ruin with its brief but interesting history. The door on the East side is boarded up and there is a single small window in the South wall other than that it is featureless. The Castle in relation to the 1772 print looks decidedly shorter so it must have diminished over time. It remains anonymous in its surroundings but still I wonder how many residents know what history is literally on their doorstep.
Thanks go to Sinead Burke for pointing me in the direction of this ruin.

To find the ruin take the R113 heading Northwards from Newlands Cross and drive for approx.3.5KM until you reach a roundabout with a sign pointing left for Fonthill Retail Park. Take the 3rd exit on the right onto the R833 (Coldcut Road) and then the first left turn onto Greenfort Avenue. You will see the Ruin ahead of you. At the top of Greenfort Avenue turn Left and then take the first right onto Old Tower Crescent. This leads you directly to the Castle. 

Monday 13 April 2015

Castlemacadam Church Co Wicklow

                                               Above Image: The entrance gate

                                                    Above Image: Entrance door

                                      Above Image: A view upwards to the belfry

                                               Above Image: East facing gable

                               Above & Below Images: Some stone decoration within

                                               Above Image: North facing gable

                                              Above Image: Overlooking the vale

Ever since first seeing a photograph of this ruin online I’ve wanted to make a visit so recently an opportunity arose to do so. It sits dramatically on an elevated ridge above the picturesque vale of Avoca. The very solid looking Church was built in 1819 for the Church of Ireland community and was consecrated in 1821. Some portions of a 14th century castle were apparently integrated in to the structure. The Church surprisingly had a short term of use being superseded by the need for a larger church in 1870. It subsequently fell into ruin and for a while was covered heavily in ivy. Today this has been cleared and it still stands proud silently observing the tranquillity of the valley.
The Churchyard has an adjacent laneway which brings you up to the main gate. This is the best place to park if driving. This main gate however is padlocked which at first was a disappointment to me but however a smaller gate remains open at the foot of the laneway which you would pass on the way up. Once you enter the small gate you are greeted by what is the best view of the ruins. A set of stone steps climb up towards the ridge and the ruins dominate the skyline. This particular view is what prompted my keenness to visit the site.
The ground within the graveyard is uneven underfoot disguised by thick grass but it is far from being overgrown. There seems to be an abundance of table grave slabs which outweigh the remaining grave markers. All of the walls of the Church are still upstanding but it is roofless and exposed to the elements. There’s an open entrance in the South facing wall of the belfry tower which allows access to the interior which is L-shaped. Just upon entering and looking up you can see the roof of the tower is also missing, the light streaming inwards. The nave and chancel are partially overgrown but the fine window carving and some nice stone decoration on the East facing wall below the tower are pleasing to the eye. What is really distinct about these ruins I found is the complete stillness of the place. It is so quiet here that even the passing cars on the road below seem to slip by silently.
There are quite a few ruins of former Church of Ireland Churches scattered about the country mostly ruins of early 19th century structures but this is one of the most interesting and being so close to the pleasant village of Avoca it is well worth a visit. A few kilometres north of Avoca you can also take in The Motte Stone ( See earlier post here) a huge boulder deposited by a receding glacier around 15000 years ago.  

To find the ruin of Castlemacadam Church head south on the M11/N11 Dublin to Wexford road and after Wicklow watch out for "The Tap" Pub on your right. A short distance later there is a turn onto the R754 beside another pub called "Lil Doyles" Take this right turn which leads to the village of Redcross. On the main street you will see a right hand turn pointing towards Avoca. Take this turn and drive approx. 7KM until you enter the village of Avoca. Cross the bridge over the river at the end of the village at Fitzgerald’s pub. Once over the bridge turn left onto the R752 for Woodenbridge and drive for approx. 800m passing the new Church on your right and just around the following bend you will spot the ruin on your right. Turn into the laneway beside the ruin and drive up and park on the grass alongside the main gate. Then simply walk back down the lane to reach the small access gate in the surrounding wall.


                                                  Above Image: New handrail.

                                                  Above Image: Broken tombs

We paid a second visit to this wonderful ruin and things are much the same except for the addition now of a wooden handrail up the steps to the church. While this good for safety I think it actually detracts from the view taken on the original photos. And to Clock Master who enquired in the comments as of the latest burial date, it appears to be James Duggan December 24th 1944. A slight change too on the directions. When you have passed junction 17 of the M11 heading South the motorway splits from the old N11 so you need to exit after road marker N11 S 41. This will bring you back on the old road to access Redcross. Lil Doyle's pub where you turn has ceased business but the name is still on the pub. this may change if the site is sold. All other directions remain the same.

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Ardmulchan Church Co Meath

                                              Above Image: The entrance lane

                                          Above Image: Entrance gate & stile

                                          Above Image: Remains of East gable

                                            Above Image: The stone coffin lid

                                 Above Image: Stairs to the left, chamber to the right

                                      Above Image: Vaulted lower chamber interior
                                            Above Image: View up the stairs
                                            Below Image: View down the stairs

                                 Above Image: Remains of second storey chamber

                              Above Image: View of Church ruins from second storey

                    Above Image: View of Dunmoe Castle through second storey window

                        Above & Below Images: Views of the Boyne & Dunmoe Castle

On a Norman constructed Motte overlooking the River Boyne are the ruins of Ardmulchan Church. The tall bell tower is likely to have been constructed in the late 13th or early 14th century while the nave and chancel date about a hundred years later. It is believed that the Church was still in use up to the early part of the 17th century. Its strategic position on the Motte which sweeps steeply down to the river would attest that this was an important Norman position and it is thought that later the stones from a castle was used to construct the perimeter wall of the graveyard.
The ruins are tucked away from the main local road and are accessed by a narrow and frankly pot- holed lane of which a gate at the end is usually open during daylight hours. Once through the gate the lane bends right and leads you to a gravel car park and the graveyard itself. The view from this spot out over the Boyne valley is breath taking, the river winding upstream and the ruins of Dunmoe Castle (See earlier post here) clearly visible on the opposite bank.
There is a stile in the perimeter wall of the graveyard but on my visit the gate was unlocked. The tower is very striking sitting aloft the Motte and when approached from its South side you can see the foundations of the side walls and the partial remains of the East gable where a large window would have been. This gable is quite overgrown. In between this and the tower the once interior is strewn with broken rock and gravestones. There is one particularly unique object here a stone trapezoidal coffin lid sporting a very decorative cross.
At the tower itself there are two openings one leads down into a small vaulted chamber where bell ropes once hung from the belfry through three apertures. The other opening leads to a very worn stone stairs some of the steps badly cracked or even missing but as they say nothing ventured nothing gained so I clambered up them. Unfortunately it just led to an open chamber with a grassy floor although there is a good view of the surrounds from here.
This is one site you really should visit, not only for the ruin but for the great view from its vantage point.
To find Ardmulchan Church take the N2 heading North from exit 5 on the M50. About 2.5Km before Slane there is a left hand turn onto the L1600 signposted for Navan/Trim. The turn is just after a large sign on your left referring to Newgrange monument and the Battle of the Boyne. Once on the L1600 drive through Beauparc station and you will come across a TOP service station on your right. Approx 2km past this is a small laneway on the right with an abandoned house on the corner. It’s easy to miss as the sign pointing to the graveyard has been turned out of view but if you drive slowly and keep an eye out you should be OK.
Once on the lane follow it through to the car park. The gate halfway down is usually open until 10pm in summer and 4pm in winter.