Henry Lacy is said to have founded the first castle at Carlingford, though whether such a person existed is open to question.  In 1210 King John landed in Waterford during his expedition against the Lacys and Braoses.  He obviously seized the castle and records exist for its repair in 1211 and 1215.  The castle remained in royal hands, receiving the name, King John's castle.  Possibly in the 1260s, King Henry III built a new hall block on the east side, probably demolishing a turret and the old keep in the process.  The castle was attacked in 1596, 1642, 1649 and 1650, leaving it in the ruined state we see today.

The original castle consists of a ringwork, some 100' north to south and 85' east to west, set on a rocky outcrop over the sea.  This 8' thick curtain was equipped with small rectangular turrets to south, south-east and north.  There is a platform to the east that probably is the base of a rectangular keep.  To the was was an early rectangular twin towered gatehouse, of which only the north-west corner remains.  The hall block, 80' by 50' wide, with walls up to 9' thick, overlies much of the old enceinte to the east.


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