Trim Castle

Trim was used as a centre of administration for the lordship of Meath, an administrative area created during the reign of King Henry II (1154-89).  Hugh Lacy (d.1186) acquired the area in 1172 and built a ringwork castle beside the River Boyne.  Work on the bulk of the masonry took place under Hugh and his son Walter (d.1241).  From Walter the castle passed to Geoffrey Geneville of Vaucouleurs in France and Ludlow, then in Wales.  In 1304 both Trim and Ludlow passed to his son-in-law, Roger Mortimer.  The fortress then remained in that family's hands until they died out in 1425 and saw one of the few royal visits of the middle ages when Richard II came to stay immediately prior to his dethronement in 1399.  On his departure the king left they young Harry of Monmouth lodged in the Dublin gatehouse with Duke Humphrey of Gloucester.  The fortress passed to the Yorks in 1425, who went on to became kings of England in 1461.

Trim castle is reckoned to be the largest true castle in Ireland.  In the centre of the original ringwork stands a large keep of cruciform shape.  This means that it has 20 vulnerable corners.  It measures some 65' by 60' with walls 12' thick in places.  To this great tower the four rectangular turrets were added centrally making for the odd design.  Entrance was gained through one of these turrets which had the standard chapel above the entrance.  The tower keep is of three storeys and stands 75' high.  Excavation suggests it was commenced by Hugh Lacy soon after his arrival in the district and then subject to two further phases under his son, Walter Lacy in 1196 and 1201–5.  Internally the lower embrasures are rounded to the point of being near Romanesque.  Higher up they are much gentler curves.

Surrounding the keep was an eye-shaped enclosure boarded by the River Boyne and about 500' E to W and 330' N to S.  The surviving curtain walls, about 6' thick are predominantly of two phases. The N half of the enceinte is defended by rectangular towers, including the Trim gate, which are probably the work of Hugh Lacy (d.1186) and have near Romanesque arches.  The Trim gate was built on top of an earlier wooden gateway and had its upper floor replaced with an octagonal structure in the 13th C.  Finally the southern half of the enceinte was built, including the Dublin gate, probably between the 1190s and 1210s.  This contains five irregular D-shaped towers about 20' in diameter and the circular Dublin gatehouse.  The towers were all open backed in the style common in the late 12th and early 13th centuries, although some were later walled in.

Would you like to visit Trim as I am leading a tour there in October.  Please feel free to look over the details by clicking here.


Copyright©2017 Paul Martin Remfry

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