Anglo-Norman Castle

This great Anglo-Norman castle was built in the early 13th century on land granted to Maurice Fitzgerald by Strongbow, and became the principal residence of the Kildare branch of the Geraldines. The Kildare FitzGeralds became one of the most powerful families in Ireland with Maynooth Castle being one of the largest and richest Earl's houses. The eighth Earl Garret Mór, known as the Great Earl of Kildare, governed Ireland in the name of the King of England from 1487 - 1513. Under his son Garret Og the 9th Earl, the castle became the centre of political power and culture. Garret Og became more powerful and displeased Henry VIII on several occasions before finally being imprisoned in London.

The Keep

Interior of the Keep

Model of the castle

His son Silken Thomas rebelled against the English in 1534 and marched upon Dublin Castle where his army was routed. He retreated to his stronghold at Maynooth before the castle was taken by Sir William Skeffington in 1535 who bribed a guard. The original Keep, constructed c. 1203, was one of the largest of its kind in Ireland. Early in the 17th century the castle was remodeled and the main focus of the Castle shifted from the original Keep to the buildings in the east of the grounds. The castle grounds are open to the public all year round and the Keep is open from the end of May till September. There is an exhibition in the Keep displaying the history of the Castle.

Postern Gate

St Mary's Chapel

St Mary's Church, pictured below, was originally built as a private chapel for the castle. In 1248, it was made a Prebend of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. The tower was added in the 15th century. Georóid Mór established a college of priest's at Maynooth. It was extensively renovated by Richard Boyle in the 1630s as part of the rebuilding of the castle. The back of the church and the churchyard still contain fragments of the original curtain wall. It became a Protestant church during the time of the 16th Earl of Kildare.

Situated: Very easy the castle is located in the centre of the town at the junction of the R148 and the R408.

Discovery Map 50: N 9355 3765. Last visit June 2014.

Longitude:  6° 35' 38" W

Latitude:  53° 22' 51" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey.

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