The first castle Dave and I visited was Dunamase Castle in County Laois, Ireland. In actuality, it is better known as The Rock of Dunamase as it is in complete ruins, which was completely awesome! We had been through a bit of western Britain and a few highlights in Dublin, and we were driving across Ireland to the west coast to stay near the Cliffs of Moher. We decided to stop here because it wasn’t far from the highway and I had thought Dave would find it neat (and I was right).
The Rock is not a manned site, you can park and walk through it at your leisure and for free. The road leading to it is a two-way country road that isn’t even big enough for one car, so that was a little unnerving, but once we got there it was totally worth it. The sun was just going down so there was great opportunities for sun flares, which I absolutely LOVE and apparently this is one of the many things Dave has picked up from me with respect to shooting. After we parked, we practically ran up to the ruins shooting along the way. We shot and shot and shot until the sun went away. Then we drove to our hotel for the night, rather delighted with the last visit of the day.
The view from the top of the cliff where the castle sits was gorgeous! It really gave a good sense of the quilt-like pattern of the land.
When we were just about done at the ruins, the sky got rather ominous and it threatened to rain. We started walking back to the car to try and avoid the imminent downpour, but kept getting distracted by the amazing sky!
According to the plaque that was near the front of the site:
“Dunamase Castle was founded in the late 12th century on the site of a 9th century dun or fort.
…It was the centre of military and administrative power in this part of Leinster under the Marshal family. It then passed through to the Mortimers who held it into the 14th century.
Records indicate that is changed hands several times after Mortimer was executed for treason by the order of Edward III. It possible ended in possession of the Irish O’Mores who are credited with its destruction. It fell into disuse shortly thereafter. … The hall was partially restored as a residence at the end of the 18th century by Sir John Parnell. … After his death, his son let it fall into its final decay.
The castle is approached through an outer barbican. The arched gate leads into the inner triangular barbican, whose outer walls have plunging arrow loops in embrasures under the wall walk.
Above this are the main gatehouse and the curtain wall which surrounds the crown of the hill. The curtain wall incorporates an earlier gatetower and a postern gate on the western side.
The gatehouse provided a high level of defence, with a portcullis protected by inward facing loops from the side chambers and probably a murder holes above, and a gate, set just over half way up the passage. The front of the gateway has the remains of a two slot counter-weight drawbridge.
On top of the hill stands a massive rectangular hall, with a two storey solar. It is thought to be of later 12th century date, with a batter added to the base in the early 13th century. The work attributed to Parnell, includes the re-build of the north west corner and insertion of medieval features from other sites. These include a medieval doorway and a window with hood-moulding.”