Anglo-Norman castle

We were surprised and a bit disappointed to find Carlow castle is now facing a very modern complex and no longer overlooking the river it was built to defend. The first castle (most likely a motte and bailey) on this elevated rocky knoll strategically situated at the meeting of the rivers Barrow and Burren was built by Norman invader Hugh de Lacy c1181 The town of Carlow sprang from this location. When Strongbow died with only his daughter surviving him, she married noted soldier William Marshall who is credited with building the current rectangular stone castle c.1210.

Built without a foundation, the castle's two corner circular towers are as thick as 25 feet and rise higher than the battlements. Despite the unstable history of this castle, it remained relatively in tact until 1814 when it was leased to a physician with the intention of using it for a private lunatic asylum. As the story goes, the physician chose to convert the vaulted interior into additional space by means of blasting powder and thus collapsing the entire eastern half of the castle to the condition we see today.

Situated: Very easy, located on western side of Carlow Town on Castle Street, near Graiguecullen Bridge.

Discovery Map 61: S 717 766. Last visit March 2011.

Longitude: 6° 56' 9.39" W

Latitude: 52° 50' 9.89" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey.

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