Monday 7 September 2015

Castletown Motte & Tower Co Louth

                                                 Above Image: Entrance stile

                                               Above Image: Track to the Motte

                                          Above Image: Spiral track up the Motte

                               Above  & Below Images: Entrance to top of Motte area

                                                   Above Image: Byrne's Folly

                        Above & Below Images: Some of the ground stonework around
                                                                the folly

                             Above & Below Images: Entrance door and interior view

                         Above & Below Images: 2 Views looking up within the tower

This unusual site is well worth a diversion to if anywhere near the town of Dundalk. Located off a side road a little West of the town you would not be immediately aware of its existence. A stile in the wall by the roadside gives access to a short track that leads you directly to it.
The earthen Motte that is located here was probably constructed in the 12th century as a Norman defence. A wooden bailey and tower would have sat upon its flattened top. The Motte measures over 30 feet high and approx. 320 feet in diameter, quite an impressive construction. A number of names have been given to it over the centuries ranging from Cuchulainn’s Hill (legend has it that this site was his birthplace) , Dun Dealgan (the gaelic for Dundalk) and Castletown Motte (a simple explaination of its location). A local man named Patrick “Pirate”Byrne who ran a successful salt manufacturing business near the port and was suspected of being into a bit of smuggling (hence his nickname) built a stone tower house on top of the Motte in 1780 as a show of wealth and this came to be known as Byrne’s folly. The tower is castellated and has a track cut out of the side of the Motte to lead up to it. This track is the one you use today to access the summit and it has a guard rail on it as there is a deep ditch around the base. I really like this tower and Motte and the walk up is quite easy. I don’t think that it was a main residence but more like a holiday retreat for Byrne. The door is gated up now and looking up inside all of the floors are missing. I suspect that they were simple wooden ones that fell apart over time. I see this as a hidden gem and a great place to bring the family. When we visited it was quite early in the day so we had the place to ourselves.
To find Castletown Motte and its folly take the junction 17 exit of the M1 for Dundalk (Town Centre)  onto the N53. Drive for approx. 800m until you reach a crossroads. Turn right at the crossroads onto Mount Avenue. Drive for approx. 200m and you will see a gate with stone pillars on your right. Park on this side between this gate and the adjacent gate. You will see the stile in the wall to the left of the left hand pillar. Just follow the track up to the Motte.

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