Dunamase Castle

Originally used as a fort in early-Christian times, this is one of the most superbly and strategically sited castles in the country It is unfortunate that its state of preservation does not match its siting. On the arrival of the Normans, the site was in the hands of Dermot McMurrough Kavanagh. Through his marriage with Eva, it fell into the hands of his father-in-law, Strongbow, and then through to his daughter, Isabella, to William Marshall.

The castle is first mentioned in 1215 when King John ordered Geoffrey Lutterel to hand it over to William. During the following centuries ownership changed hands between the English and the Irish O'Mores many times until the castle was finally rendered harmless by the Cromwellians.

In the 17th century Sir John Parnell partially restored it as a residence, but his son allowed it to fall into its final decay. On approaching from the road, one passes first the banks and ditches forming the oldest and outermost defences. Then through the bailey one reaches the first gate, of uncertain date.

It leads into a triangular area, which in turn leads through a gateway with double turrets in the curtain wall into the innermost area. Here, on top of the hill, stand the remains of a long rectangular tower of 13th century date. It is made of massive masonry and has a square tower on the west face. The door on the west face and the west, north, and east windows are probably 15th century insertions.


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