Monday 29 August 2016

Old Hollywood Great Church Co Dublin

                                       Above Image: View from the roadside

                                       Above Image: Roadside entrance gate

                                          Above Image: Approach lane way

                                   Above & Below Images: Southern doorway

                                   Above Image: West gable with triple bellcote

Out into the heart of North County Dublin again where there are many ruins dotted around the landscape and this time we have a ruined Church situated in the townland of Hollywood Great.
The Church mentioned is late medieval in date and is thought to have been preceded by an earlier stone Church which was listed as in ruins by 1630. The present Church according to records was probably constructed on this site around the late 16th century and is recorded as being in full use in the 1750’s and remained so until the early 19th century. By the late 1880’s it was described as falling into ruin.
I like the location of these ruins which are situated on a side road called Sallowood View off the R108 between Ballyboughal and Naul. It’s a very quiet and pleasant part of the county. A roadside gate which is unlocked is the access point and you are led down a long lane to a second gate for the graveyard enclosure in which the ruins are situated. The lie of the land is such that although the Church seems elevated above the land extending  behind it in which the hump of Lambay Island can be seen in the distance it is really only slightly elevated to its surroundings. In fact the access point at the roadside is at a higher level to the graveyard enclosure.
 A tall triple bellcote tower stands on the West gable and the Church extends Eastward towards the Chancel. The walls of the Nave survive but the Chancel area itself is reduced to a few feet above foundation level. There is a medieval holy water stoop just inside the South doorway hidden a little by ivy. The interior of the West gable displays evidence of the former roof, a triangular pattern etched into the brickwork. The Church in design is not dissimilar to the nearby Ballyboughal Church (see earlier post here ) which has a more notable history attached to it.
All in all an interesting enough ruin in a nice location with easy access which could be incorporated into a visit to the aforementioned Ballyboughal Church for comparison.
To find the ruins head Northwards on the R108 from Ballyboughal village and drive for approx 5.5KM until you reach a crossroads with the Jamestown Road. There are signs pointing to the N1 and Lusk and you need to turn right here. A little way down this road the name changes to Sallowood View. Drive for approx 700m from the crossroads and you will spot the entrance gate on your right. It is possible to park alongside the wall left of the gate. 

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Ballyteague Castle Co Kildare

                                      Above Image: South-West facing aspect

                                     Above Image: South-East facing aspect

                         Above Image: Huband Bridge with Castle in the backround

                           Above Image: The canal facing South from the bridge

Locating this Castle was a joy as it is in such a picturesque location alongside a section of the Grand Canal deep in the heart of County Kildare. I was surprised however on researching it later that it is not quite what I thought it to be.
There are records of a Fitzgerald Castle located at Ballyteague of which it is said that one of the
more famous members of that family, Silken Thomas the 10th Earl of Kildare, took refuge in the Castle in 1535 following the nearby Battle of Allen.  Later in 1650 the Castle was badly damaged by cannon fire by invading Cromwellian forces. There was talk of some repair but from what I can gather the sturdy tower house that stands today is not the original Castle but in fact an archaeologically sound reproduction of a Norman tower house constructed by Sir Gerald George Aylmer in 1860 as a folly. Aylmer’s family had inherited the lands at Ballyteague from the Fitzgeralds in 1662. By the early 19th century the Aylmers were almost bankrupt but Sir Gerald George went about a plan of squaring the family finances and indeed subsequently did so and contributed a great deal of good work to the locality including a new road from Prosperous to his newly reconstructed Donadea Castle (see earlier post,) a drainage scheme of the slate river and the partial construction of Kilmeague Village. At this time Aylmer had dabbled in folly’s creating the prominent tower on the Hill of Allen called Aylmer’s Folly (see earlier post). The castle at Ballyteague was designed as a genuine looking three storey Norman style Castle that was pleasing to the eye in a bucolic setting. It is thought that some of the original stone of the earlier medieval tower house may have been incorporated into the building of this folly. The tower was owned by the Thornton family in the early part of the last century and eventually came into the hands of Tom Hendy a well thought of and noted historian who collected and kept many local historical artefacts within the castle. Tom unfortunately died in 2010. This is all the information I could garner on the castle but interestingly enough a well renowned author of some Irish based books called Anita Hendy lives near the castle and indeed one of her Books “The Castle Book” is apparently inspired by Ballyteague. I wonder is Anita a relative of Tom Hendy?
When I visited Ballyteague I expected a ruin and it could very well have been as I had no previous knowledge of it at that point and there is only limited access through a gate in a little grass enclosure on one side. There are some nearby houses but I didn’t think at the time that there to ask if there was any access to the tower and I didn’t want to intrude too much. I wonder if the historical collection is still housed there and if any access is permitted? Maybe someone out there can shed some light.
The Castle is located next to Huband Bridge on the canal and really is worth a trip to see. It’s so peaceful there and though not technically a ruin it may contain parts of the original Fitzgerald Castle now gone in the sands of time.
To find Ballyteague Castle take the R403 heading West from Prosperous until you reach Allenwood. As you enter the village there is a left turn just after the Esso Service Station with a sign pointing to Newbridge. Turn left down this road (R415) and drive for approx 1.5KM until you have crossed two hump back stone bridges. A short distance after the second bridge you reach a third one. Cross over and turn right on the other side and follow the narrow road parallel to the canal. Drive for approx.1.5Km and you will spot the Castle on the far side of the canal. Just before you reach Huband Bridge which leads to the Castle there is a field gate and enough room to pull over. Simply cross the bridge on foot and there is a small metal gate in the wall in front of the Castle 

Wednesday 10 August 2016

Grange Castle Co Dublin

                                           Above Image: The surrounding fence

                            Above Image: East wall displaying chimney and evidence of
                                                    once attached building

                                                   Above Image: South aspect

                                  Above Image: Close up of garderobe on South wall

                                                  Above Image: Northern aspect

Firstly thanks to Kevin Andrew for putting me in the right direction for this.
Grange Castle is a three storey late medieval tower house that was constructed in approx.1580. The Castle was remodelled around 1750 when a two bay two storey addition was made to its western aspect. Features include a vaulted basement, a tall slim projecting square tower and a garderobe on its Southern side. An antiquarian drawing by Gabriel Beranger from 1773 depicts the tower with crenellations and the new hall attached It also displays some ancillary buildings which have since been demolished  Evidence of a ditch which had a stone causeway over it was discovered in excavations in 1997. A long approach lane once ran from the Castle from its Northern side towards the Grand Canal where there was a gatehouse. In its time it appeared to be quite isolated and this is clearly evident on early ordnance survey maps. Who constructed and resided in the Castle I have still to discover but apparently the site was occupied in some manner until the 1970’s. The development of one of the world’s largest bio-pharmaceutical business parks swallowed up Grange Castle and this park is now about 60% occupied with continuing construction taking place. For years I assumed Grange had been demolished until Kevin posted on the blog mentioning that he had passed it in a car one day. It didn’t take me long to find its location and I made tracks there within a few days.
I visited on the August bank holiday Monday and of course all of the businesses on the park were closed. Nice and quiet then. As there is a through road for traffic there was no problem entering the park but it is a bit labyrinthine and took a few doubling backs on the many internal roundabouts to finally spot the ruins on a large grassy area set back from the road. I parked nearby as there were no restricting signs although security vans were whizzing around at intervals being the day that it was and I’d imagine it would not have been such a good spot to park on a busy weekday. I proceeded after parking to cross the expanse on foot towards the ruin. The ruin has been surrounded by a tall metal fence with a heavily padlocked gate and many warning signs, but you can see all aspects of the Castle by walking around the perimeter. The overgrowth on the West side is a bit rough and I got covered in stickles but otherwise it was fine. The garderobe (or toilet) chute is still intact on the South wall but all of the windows in the Castle have been blocked up with some adjoining parts on the East of the building now missing exposing partial evidence of a chimney. Overall it remains a scarred and rather grim edifice reminding me a little of Athcarne Castle in Co. Meath (see earlier post). The grounds around here are also apparently a haven for bats which are a protected species. I’d imagine at night and coupled with this gaunt ruin the atmosphere must be very eerie. I managed to traverse the whole perimeter hoping in vain for a breach so I could get a bit closer but it was not to be. The secrets of Grange Castle remain firmly locked up to the visitor with maybe the only successful intruder being the occasional bat.
To find the ruin head West on the New Nangor Road (R134) and following the major junction with the R136 you will come to a small roundabout.  Take the right hand exit into Grange Castle Business Park and drive until you reach a roundabout with the company Pfizer on your right. Go straight through the roundabout and you will spot the ruin in the near distance on your left. Try to find a safe place to park which would be too hard if it is not during working hours. There is a small left hand turn lane on the opposite side of the road just before the next roundabout. You could spin around the roundabout at park in there. It’s only a short walk across the grass to the ruin.


                                          Above Image: Original stone exposed.

                                                   Above Image: Entrance door

                                    Above Image: Newly installed stairs to upper floor

                                Above Image & Image Below: Interior of ground floor

                                            Above Image: Southern facing side

                                 Above Image: Exposed fireplace & connecting door

                         Above Image: Newly landscaped surroundings & access path

Firstly thanks again to Kevin Andrew (Kibby) for keeping an eye out on this site and advising that works were in place at the castle. Thanks Kev!
On my first visit here as you can see from the original post, this castle was in a very sorry state. But some inspired thinking on behalf of the County Council has seen this transformation take place.
The castle walls have been stripped of the awful cowl it was plastered in and the windows and doors unblocked. Granted, the access is prohibited by mesh in every orifice but I believe that in time the Council will allow access to the interior which includes a tower stairs, but by appointment.only. I will certainly be looking into this.
Peering inside they appear to have added a new stairway and bolstered up any dangerous parts of the wall and on the Eastern outer wall where the exposed fireplace is, you can see now by getting up close that there appears to have been an adjoining building which is now non-extant apart from some foundations and a tiny section of wall.
On our visit there were a few walkers and runners around and although pedestrian access to the castle is now easy, there is no designated parking area. An informative warden told us that parking especially near the Pfizer entrance gate is frowned upon and will draw unwanted attention. He advised parking near the beginning of the pathway and preferably out of business hours. It appear some people are parking cars there all day and commuting into the city by bus.
He also informed us that the lands were up to recent times owned and farmed by the Beatty family. Whether they had any relation to the former castle occupants, I  don't really know. However this was a second trip worth taking and certainly worthy of your attention if you find yourself in the vicinity.