15th century Tower house

The tower house at Rathmacknee was built towards the end of the 15th century by either John Rossiter or his grandson Thomas. John was seneshal, or governor of the county in 1451 and Thomas in 1493. The Rossiter family first settled in Ireland after the Norman invasion in 1169. Rathmacknee was thought to be the principal stronghold of the Irish Rossiters. They also built the castles at Slevoy, Bargy, and Tomhaggard. Colonel Thomas Rosseter (Rossiter) fought against Oliver Cromwell in the Irish Confederate wars after which they were deprived of their lands by Cromwell. The tower house is located on a working farm and as I approached it did not look too promising.

To the left on a slight rise were the ruins of an early 19th century church, which was built on the site of a much earlier church, to my right there was a farmyard and in front a dung heap. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Rathmacknee is one of the most complete tower houses in Wexford. The tower is located in the southeast corner of an almost complete five sided bawn. I entered the bawn through the only breach in the walls, where I met one of the owners. To my delight he asked me if I wanted to enter the tower house. After retrieving the key from a relatively modern 18th century house that was built inside the bawn I explored the interior.

The top two images feature the south wall where the excellent quoins can be seen. You can also see the projecting garderobe tower to the right and in the center of the wall, supported on corbels is the chimney flue. Pictured above are some of superb windows, also on the south wall. Located in the east wall is the gateway to the bawn, protected with a machicolation and to the left of the interior is a flight of steps that lead up to the wall-walk and bartizan in the northwest corner of the bawn. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Rathmacknee Castle and was made to feel most welcome by the owners. I hope to call back soon.

Bartizan at north east corner of the bawn.

Gateway interior

East wall with gateway and machicolation

Pictured above are, a fireplace on the first floor with corbels for the second floor above, the machicolation above the gateway and a south facing window with seats also on the first floor.

Situated: From Wexford Quays head south on the R730 for 5 Kilometres approx. Then turn right for Kilmore Quay. After the offset crossroads take the next right. The castle is 1 kilometre down here on your right, behind the church.

Discovery Map 77: T 0304 1412. Last visit Aug 2017.

Longitude: 6° 29' 25" W

Latitude: 52° 16' 9" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey.

Looking along the wall-walk from the bartizan

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