Saturday, August 23, 2014

Dunmore Castle

The impressive Dunmore Castle sits on a small hillock partially surrounded by large trees almost keeping it hidden from the main road.

The first castle on this site was built by the de Birmingham family in the 13th Century.
Dunmore was attacked and burned by the O' Connors in 1249.
The castle came under attack again in 1284 from the forces of Fichra O' Flynn.
In 1315 Dunmore was once again in conflict with Rory O'Connor.

The castle was re built in the early 14th century and a lot of what is visible today dates from this time.
An additional 2 floors were built on in the 16th Century.

What you can see today is five stories high.
A ground floor entrance (the original was on the second floor) brings you inside to the empty shell of a ruin.

Access - The castle is located a short drive from the village of Dunmore (R328), parking can be found roadside within walking distance. 


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Staigue Stone Fort

Staigue Stone Fort is another of County Kerry's historical gems.
The fort can be found just off the main Sneem Waterville road, about 8 kilometres from Sneem.

The Stone Fort sits between rugged hills, with the view to the south opening up to Kenmare bay.

The forts walls are 5.5 meters in height and 4 meters thick at the base.
The diameter of the interior is over 27 meters. The inside has two small oval chambers 2 meters in height.
The entrance is under 2 meters in height, the passage is roofed with large double lintels.

The walls can be climbed via a series of crossed steps, you are asked not to walk along the top of the fort (but this seemed to be ignored by the majority on my visit).

The exact dating of the fort is unknown. It is thought to have been built pre St Patrick.
Doctor Peter Harbison ( never leave home without his "Guide to National and Historic Monuments of Ireland") suggests it may even date as far back as the first Century.

Access - The fort is well signposted from the main road, parking is available for several cars. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Inch Abbey County Down

The vast ruins of  Inch Abbey can be found on the north bank of the Quoile River.
The Abbey was founded by John de Courcy in atonement for his destruction of Erenagah Abbey.

The abbey was colonized by monks from Furness Abbey, England in 1187.
What remains of the abbey shows a typical Cistercian layout with the shape of a large cruciform architectural plan.
The Abbey is built on the site of an earlier pre-Norman church called Inis Cumhscraigh.
Vikings plundered the site in 1002 and again in 1149.
Some of the original large earthworks which survive  can be seen today from the air.

What remains of the abbey today are buildings that are dated mainly from the late 12th Century and the 13th Century.

Other well known sites that are linked with John de Courcy include the castles of Carrickfergus and Dundrum  along with Grey Abbey.

Access - The abbey is well signposted from Downpatrick.
Parking is available for several cars close to the abbey.
Expect to make a furry friend or two while at the site as the grounds around the abbey are very popular with dog walkers.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Legananny Portal Tomb

One of Northern Ireland's most famous megalithic sites is County Downs Legananny Portal Tomb.

This really has to be one of the most striking tombs I have ever seen with the Mourne mountains providing a superb backdrop.

The tripod tomb has a long narrow capstone which is over 3 meters in length.
The front two portal stones are 1.8 meters in height and the back stone is over 1 meter in height.
One of the front stones has an L shaped cut from the top of the stone (which is thought to be original).

Some stones remain around the base from what would been a more extensive cairn.
The name Legananny comes from "Aines standing stone" Aines being an Irish goddess.

Access - The site is signposted from the A50 Castlewellan to Banbridge road.

Parking for a couple of cars is available and leaves you with a very short walk to the tomb.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ross Castle

Ross Castle must be the most photographed castle in Ireland as on the morning of my visit there had to be upwards of two hundred people all milling about and all seemed to have cameras. Extreme patience was required to get the above shots.

The castle is considered to be a typical example of the type of stronghold of an Irish Chieftain during the Middle Ages.
Probably built in the late 15th century by one of the O'Donoghue Ross chieftains.
The castle is better known for its association with the Browne's of Killarney who owned the castle most recently.

The four storey square keep is built on a rocky outcrop on Ross Island by the shore of Lough Leane.
The castle is surrounded by a square defensive wall with two of the four original corner towers surviving today.

Ross Castle is said to be the last stronghold in Munster to hold out against Cromwell.
It was eventually taken by General Ludlow in 1652 - when it was fired upon from the lake.

The castle has been much altered in the intervening years.
It came into state care in the 70s and was restored by the OPW.
Allowing for the major restoration of the castle it still has plenty of its original character.

Access -  the castle is only a couple of minutes drive from Killarney town.
Parking is not a problem.
The inside of the castle can be viewed as part of a guided tour. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Garrane Stone Row / Alignment

The superb stone row of Garrane is along with the many other stone row alignments in county Cork well worth the effort of checking out.

The four stone row stands North East - South West.
Sadly one of the stones has fallen.
The three stones that still stand range from the tallest at a massive 4.5 meters with the two smaller stones an impressive 3.5 and 3 meters in height.

By the look of the stones this site has been flooded quite badly recently.

Despite a pretty dire day for my visit, this took absolutely nothing away from getting to see Garrane stone row up close. The sheer size of the stones make Garrane very special.

Access - The alignment is on private land and is hard to spot from the road.
Travelling from the Mallow direction via Dromahane you will pass a farm on your right - the stone row is directly behind the next house.
Visiting Garrane would be best advised in the summer - preferably after a dry spell.
The fields in and around the stone row are used for grazing cattle.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ballintober Castle

Ballintober Castle is thought to date back as far as the 13th Century.
The original building of the castle is claimed to be the work of William de Burgo.
The castle fell into the hands of the O'Connors in the 14th century and remained in their possession for many centuries.

The castle was surrendered to Red Hugh O'Donnell in 1598, the walls of the castle were breached in this attack as cannons were fired upon them.

The castle became a centre for Catholic resistance in 1641, and as a result it was confiscated in 1652.

The O'Connors regained possession in 1677 and remained in residence until 1701, when it was abandoned.

The castle consists of large polygonal towers in the corners, the remains of a gate house can be seen in the East wall.
Inside the vast internal area is about 3000 square meters.

The castle was originally surrounded by a wide moat, part of which can be seen in the lead image.

Access - The castle can be pretty much seen from all roads that lead into Ballintober. 
Parking is not a problem as a small residential estate is opposite the castle.