Blackhall Castle

Tower House and Sheela-na-gig

The eastern half of this, possibly early 15th century, tower house fell in c.2003. It is not surprising to discover this four storey castle was built by the Eustace family. After the Fitzgeralds, they were probably the most powerful family in Kildare. See Ballymore Eustace and New Abbey. The owner, a Mr Jeff White, is a delightful character and more than willing to share information with you about the tower house and sile-na-gig. He allows visitors at certain times during the year, see below.

There was originally vault above the ground floor, you can still see the springing for the vault in the west wall. Pictured above are two of the doorways that gave access, from a spiral stair in the south west angle, to the upper floors. The twin light ogee headed window, on the left, can be seen on the third floor of the west wall. The main living quarters were on the third storey. The fine fireplace, pictured below, can be also seen on this floor and Jeff remembers a similar fireplace in the east wall.

The south wall

Firelace in the west wall

Sheela-na-gig

The main reason I visited the tower house at Blackhall was to see the Sheela-na-gig, pictured left. The sheela is in excellent condition considering it was in a part of the tower house that collapsed. It is now set in a small recess on the northside of the tower house. The figure is about 50 centimetres high. Both of her hands are touching her large vulva, from the back of her thighs and her right leg is slightly raised. Her small breasts can be seen above her incised rib cage. The head is surrounded by a circular groove. The simple facial features can be clearly seen. The sheela-na-gig was situated above or beside an entrance in the south wall, a small chamber had been added to this entrance at a later date. Pictured below is the rubble from the collapsed chamber. The sheela was rescued from this area. Visitors are allowed between 2pm-6pm, during 1st May-31st May, 1st Sept -15th Sept and 1st Dec-20th December.

Situated: From Kilcullen head south west on the R418. At Hacklow turn left onto the L8008, go straight through Calverstown. The entrance to Blackhall castle is about 2 kilometres down here on your left.

Discovery Map 55: N 7973 0212. Last visit May 2019.

Longitude: 6° 48' 38" W

Latitude: 53° 3' 50" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey.

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