Heritage sites
Heritage Buildings: Ormond Castle, Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary
Ormond Castle in Carrick-on Suir is the only surviving example of an unfortified Tudor period mansion in Ireland.
Heritage Site: Turlough Abbey near Castlebar, Co. Mayo

Turlough Abbey was founded by St. Patrick in 441 and was under the authority of the Archbishop of Armagh.

View of the church and round tower at Turlough, Co. Mayo.

Just 5km outside Castlebar, Co. Mayo to the north of the N5 Dublin road, on the road to Park and on the northern side of the Castlebar River is Turlough Abbey. Little is known of the history of the Abbey at Turlough. John O’Donovan writing in the Ordnance Survey letters thought that it had been founded by St. Patrick in 441 and was under the authority of the Archbishop of Armagh. A length of the original circular enclosure can be seen in the line of field boundary to the east of the site. In the ninth century an unusual low and squat round tower was constructed at the site. The tower is relatively low at 21m and wide with a rounded-headed doorway and four square-headed windows.

One of the crucifixion plaques at Turlough, Co. Mayo.

None of the early churches at the site survive and there is no documentary information on them. In 1302 the Abbey was valued for the ecclesiastical taxation of Ireland. The Abbey survived the initial dissolution of the monasteries and a crucifixion plaque dated 1625 is an example of counter-reformation iconography. The Abbey was finally dissolved and granted to Walter Burke by King Charles I in 1635. The site passed to the Fitzgeralds in 1653 and they were presumably responsible for the eighteenth century cruciform church with three round-headed windows in the chancel. Three crucifixion plaques have been built into the church. There is also a tomb of George Robert Fitzgerald dated 1786.

Google Maps image of the location of the Turlough, Co. Mayo.

GPS coordinates 53.888769, -9.208881

Heritage Buildings: Russborough House
Russborough House, near Blessington, Co. Wicklow, is perhaps Ireland’s finest Palladian style country house.
Monastic Site at Ballymore Eustace, Co. Kildare

The High Crosses at Ballymore Eustace, Co. Kildare indicate that it was an early medieval monastic site.

Clonony Castle, Co. Offaly, Near Shannonbridge.
Clonony Tower House was built by the MacCoughlan family before 1519 and was one of the principal strongholds of Dealbhna Eathra. In 1519 it was the scene of the death of the Prior of Gallen monastery who was an heir to the Kingship of Dealbhna Eathra.

The Wayside Cross at Dunsany, near Kilmessan, Co. Meath.
On the road from Dunshaughlin to Kilmessan and opposite the gates to Dunsany castle is the Dunsany Wayside Cross.

View of the of the Dunsany Wayside Cross, Co. Meath.

The late sixteenth or early seventeenth century decorated cross is one of a small number of Wayside Crosses that survive from the later Medieval period in Ireland. They are called wayside crosses because they were set up by the side of the road rather than at a church site. The cross is carved from limestone and has a rectangular shaft set in a large rectangular base with the upper shaft of the cross set in a collar. The cross is Latin style. On the west face is a panel with the winged ox of St. Luke above a crucifixion.

Google Maps image of the location of the Dunsany Waysdie Cross, Co. Meath.

GPS coordinates GPS 53.538433,-6.616033

Further reading
Heather King 1984. Late Medieval Crosses in County Meath c. 1470-1635. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Vol. 84C, 79-115.

The Motte and Bailey Castle at Nobber, Co. Meath
The Motte and Bailey castle of Nobber is situated on the R162 Navan to Kingscourt road, to the north of the town of Nobber just before the crossing of the River Dee. The original Irish placename an Obair means "the work" and refers to the Motte and Bailey.

View of the Motte and bailey Castle at Nobber, Co. Meath.

The Motte and Bailey castle of Nobber is situated on the R162 Navan to Kingscourt road, to the north of the town of Nobber just before the crossing of the River Dee. The original Irish placename an Obair means "the work" and refers to the Motte and Bailey.

The Motte and Bailey now consists of a flat-topped earthen mound 6.5m high and 40m wide surrounded by a ditch. This would originally have supported a wooden tower. The Bailey is a rectangular area to the south-east of the Motte that would originally have been protected by a wooden stockade with a gateway.

The Motte was originally built by Hugh de Lacy Lord of Meath as a caput or defended headquarters for Gilbert de Angulo, a Knight who had been granted the barony of Morgallion. In 1196 de Angulo was outlawed and Nobber returned to the Control of the de Lacys. In 1244 it passed through marriage to David FitzWilliam Baron of Naas and in 1386 to Christopher Preston. The Motte appears to have remained in use through the fifteenth century as it was attacked by the Bernard MacMahon in 1425 and O’Neill and O’Donnell in 1434. The Motte may have been refortified in 1573 and may have been used by Preston in the campaign of 1585. The Motte was still in use in 1648 when it was taken by Sir Henry Tichborne during the War of the Three Kingdoms.

Google Maps image of the location of Motte and Bailey Castle at Nobber, Co. Meath.

GPS coordinates 53.823709,-6.752805

Further reading

Shannonbridge Fort, Co. Roscommon, near Ballinasloe, Co. Galway
The R357 road from Ballinasloe, Co. Galway to Cloghan, Co. Offaly crosses the River Shannon at Shannonbridge on the sixteen-arch masonry road bridge completed in 1757. Before the bridge approaches on the western side of the river the road runs through the Tete-de-pont or bridge defences which were constructed during the Napoleonic Wars.

Google Earth view of the Shannonbridge artillery fort showing the main redoubt with the ramp in front of it, the Ballinasloe road running along side it entering the fort just in front of the fortified Barrack Block.

The defences were designed to delay a military force apparoaching from the west from crossing the River Shannon to the eastern side. The defences take the form of an elongated triangle with blunted western end, consisting of a sub-rectangular redoubt in front of a wedge-shaped enclosure and connected to it with a pair of diverging stone walls. The redoubt was completed in 1810, the barack Block in 1814 and the rest of the defences in 1817. This was at the same time as the reconstruction of Athlone Castle. The bridgehead fortification is of great historic significance and is thought to be unique within Ireland and Britain. The site is a Recorded Monument No. RO056-016--- but has been highligted on the National Monuments Service Map Viewer for delisting from the Record.

View of the Shannonbridge artillery fort barrack block from the Ballinasloe road. Three guns situated on the roof of the building.

The western artillery redoubt has a glacis slope and dry moat faced in stone on all sides. It is on a rise overlooking the road and had 4 guns on traversing platforms. To the west in front of the redoubt the ground has been cleared and turned into a ramp sloping toward the redoubt, providing the artillery with a designed killing zone. The redoubt is connected to the rest of the fort with high stone walls, that are glacis or sloping to the north. The enclosure to the east is wedge-shaped with the widest part resting on the river bank. On the southern side is a fortified Barrack Block with emplacements for 3 guns on the roof that had a field of fire directly down the Ballinasloe road. In front of the Barrack Block the road turns north though what was a gated entrance into the fort and the approaches to the bridge. On the north flank of the fortifications was a small arms battery for musketry defence, symmetrical with the barrack block. The barrack block is now in use as a restaurant.

The Tete-de-pont was supported with additional fortified batteries situated on Lamb Island in the river behind it and on the eastern bank of the river south of the bridge.

Google maps image of the location of Shannonbridge artillery fort.

GPS coordinates 53.279245,-8.052979

Athlone Castle, Co. Westmeath
In the centre of the town of Athlone just off the R446 old Galway-Dublin Road in Castle Street on the western bank of the river Shannon and the western side of the mid-nineteenth century Shannon Road Bridge is Athlone Castle.

View of the walls, towers and central keep of Athlone Castle from the Athlone Bridge.

It was at the end of the twelfth century that the first castle was built at Ahtlone, a motte and bailey with a stone tower. This was a Royal Castle built to control the important Shannon River crossing. The Motte and Bailey castle was attacked and burnt by Cathal Crovderg O’Connor in 1199 and the stone tower on the motte later collapsed. It was about 1212 that the masonry castle as well as a bridge over the Shannon was was built by the King John’s Justiciar in Ireland, John de Grey, on the site of the earlier Motte. The central mound of the motte was revetted with stone and a polygonal castle keep was built on this. The thick rubble curtain wall of the castle with its angle towers, pentangular plan and base batter was probably built between 1268 and 1279.

View of the central keep of Athlone Castle. This was originally built about 1212 but the machicolations on the top of walls are all nineteenth century.

The castle did not always protect the town which was burnt on a number of occasions in the thirteenth century and on a number of occasions the castle went out of Royal control. In 1381 Edmund Mortimer earl of March had to retake the castle and the castle was taken again by Lord Dillon in 1490. In 1547 the castle was repaired by William Brabazon, the King's Treasurer in Ireland.

View of the north-west corner tower of Athlone Castle

The castle was heavily damaged by bombardment during the siege of Athlone in June 1691 and by an accidental explosion in 1697. The castle was rebuilt by the British Army between 1800-1827 at about the same time as the Artillery Fort at Shannonbridge was built. The machicolations of the central keep are all nineteenth century. In the interior is an early nineteenth century two-storey barrack building. The modern ramp up to the castle has a line of pistol loops. The castle was taken over by the Irish Army in 1922 and continued as a military installation until it was transferred to the Office of Public Works in 1970.

There is a visitor’s centre in the castle that features exhibitions and audio visual presentations on the siege of Athlone, John Count McCormack, River Shannon wildlife and history with folk and military museums.

Google Maps image of the location of Athlone Castle

GPS coordinates 53.423344,-7.943072

Further reading


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