The castle was built by the Barrys [Manorbier], apparently in the thirteenth century.  It seems to have had a quiet history until it was taken by Lord Castlehaven for the Confederates from Sir Philip Percival in 1642.  The castle surrendered to 7,500 men on 2 September after a 13 day siege.  A seventeenth century sketch shows the castle much as it is today, except for his moat and a ravelin before the gatehouse.  The castle was returned to the Percivals in the 1650s.

Set on a low limestone outcrop commanding flat rolling countryside, the fortress consists of a rectangular ward, 200' by 145' with 4 boldly projecting round corner towers, each some 26' in diameter.  All have strong plinths as would be expected on a wet site.  The gatehouse, set centrally in the south wall, is rectangular, 40' by 23' with a small rectangular stair turret at it's internal north-east corner.  It projects just 6' beyond the curtain, but 28' internally.  The barrel vaulted plank centred gate passageway was defended at either end by a gate and had a portcullis in between.  The 2 upper storeys were reached via a projecting stair turret although a later vice was added in the corner of the curtain.  In the fifteenth century the gatehouse was blocked to formed a towerhouse, although this blocking has since been removed.  A small, barely projecting garderobe turret is opposite the gatehouse in the north wall and a postern is beside the north-west tower in the west wall.  The 4 corner towers all had ground floor entrances and a single loop at that level.  The upper floors were reached via mural vices.  There are no trances of internal buildings.

The castle is tolerably complete apart from breaches in the south wall, on either side of the gatehouse, and heavy damage to the (rebuilt) south-east tower which also contained the well.  This damage was probably caused during the siege, although the hole nearest the gatehouse on the east side was the site of the gateway made when the gatehouse was converted to a towerhouse.  The castle is very reminiscent of Skenfrith castle in the Welsh Marches built in the 1220s, apart from it has no central round keep.

Perhaps you would like to join me in visiting this and other great castles of Ireland in October with Scholarly Sojourns.  Details of the trip can be found by clicking here.


Copyright©2019 Paul Martin Remfry