Castles in Louth County
1. Ardee Castle
Situated in Ardee town, County Louth, it was originally built by Roger de Peppard in 1207. Later, in the 15th century, it was modified by John St. Ledger.Smarmore Castle is one of the largest castles in Ireland, the strategic location of this castle made it crucial for the town’s defence and it has witnessed many battles in the past centuries.
Due to its location on the border of Gaelic North and Anglo-Norman South, this tower served as an important military outpost during the medieval time period. This fortified castle is also one of the largest in Ireland, the strategic location of this castle made it crucial for the town’s defence and it has witnessed many battles in the past centuries.
Around 1805 this castle was converted into a courthouse and prison, at present, it holds the district courthouse and many other civic offices.
2. Athclare Castle
Situated in Dunleer town, County Louth, this castle was built by Barnwell family in 1550s. The structure of this building is typical for the defensive castles that were built during that time. Some major additions to the castle were made in the 1650s and 1840s and minor alterations have been done continuously till date.
Some parts of this castle are still inhabited and Irish Government has classified it as a site of National Social Historical Importance.
3. Barmeath Castle
Situated in the west of Dunleer town, County Louth, this castle was built by Bellew family in 1670s, the castle is surrounded by ten acres of gardens that were designed by Thomas Wright.
Generations of Bellew family members have continued to live in this castle since it was originally built, it is also open to visitors and a very popular venue for weddings in Ireland. Its 10-acre walled garden, 300 acres of parkland and lake makes it a very attractive tourist destination.
4. Carlingford Castle
Situated in the town of Carlingford, County Louth, this castle was built by the Norman knight Hugh de Lacy in late 1100s. As King John stayed in the castle for few days during 1210 it is also known as King John’s Castle. The castle has been held by different families during the past centuries and it is currently a national monument.
It attracts a lot of visitors but due to the danger of falling masonry visitors are not allowed to enter inside the castle, but they can freely roam around the surrounding open areas.
5. Castle Bellingham
Situated in the medieval town of Castlebellingham, County Louth, this castle was built by Sir Henry Bellingham in 1660s and the family continued to live here until 1950s.
Sitting on the banks of river Glyde, this castle is a perfect example of old-world luxury and also has a very rich history. This 17-acre property includes a weir to control water flow, a man-made island with footbridges and stunning gardens with different kind of trees.
Since 1905 it has been the first choice of wedding venue for the rich, famous and influential people, it is also available for other private corporate events.
6. Castle Roche
Situated in the north-west of town Dundalk, County Louth, this castle was built by Lady Rohesia de Verdun in 1236. After it was built this castle was also the seat of the De Verdun family.
Since it got raided by Cromwellian’s forces in 1641, no attempts were made to restore it and it has been in a ruined state since then.
There is also an interesting story behind the construction of this castle. After her husband’s death, when Lady Rohesia de Verdun invited architects to build a castle for her family, none of them accepted the offer.
Because of her furious nature, no one wanted to work for her, so she offered her hand in marriage and a share in her wealth to anyone who would build the castle.
After completion of the castle, on the eve of her wedding with the architect, she lured her to be husband to take a look outside the window, and when he did so, she killed the architect by pushing him outside. The window from which she pushed him is still known as murder window.
7. Darver Castle
Situated in the town Dundalk, County Louth, this castle was built by Babe Family in 1432. Initially, the 500-acre land was granted to Patrick Babe by King Henry II in 1171, the earlier fortification might have been made up of wood.
In 1740, it was sold to Booth family and future generations of Booths continued living in this castle until 1980. Finally, in 1997 the Booths sold it to Carville family who turned it into a luxury hotel, it also has a restaurant and is also used as a wedding venue.
8. Hatch’s Castle
Situated in market town Ardee, this castle is a typical example of 14th-century architecture. Hatch Family received this castle from Oliver Cromwell and they refurbished it in the 19th century and still use it as a private home.
9. Knockabbey Castle
Situated in the town Philipstown, County Louth, this castle was built by Bellews Family in 1399, back then it was known as Thomastown Castle. Initially, it included only a tower house and it was further extended to the west side in 1650 and again remodelled in 1754.
In the 19th century, a new house was added and its name was changed to Knock Abbey. In 1923 it was set on fire by the Irish Republican Army and rebuilt after two years in 1925.
10. Milltown Castle
Situated in the town Milltown, County Louth, this castle was built by Gernon Family in the late 15th century. This medieval castle has a Norman keep of around 55 feet and has arrow slits in its walls for fortifications.
Towards the end of 17th century, through marriage this castle was passed on to Fortescue family, in the 19th century, Fortescue Family further leased it to Bryne Family.
By the mid-19th century, it was still inhabited but afterward left unattended.
11. Roodstown Castle
Situated in the town Roodstown, County Louth, this tower castle was built by Taaffe Family in the 15th century. Because of its location between river Dee, Irish Sea and river Glyde and Ardee it had military significance in the past.
It has a height of around 50 feet which is much higher than other 10-pound castles that were built during that time. It has been declared a national monument by the Irish Government.
12. The Mint Castle
Situated in the coastal town Carlingford, County Louth, this tower castle was built by some member of Carlingford Family in the 15th or 16th century. The exact purpose of this tower is not known but architectural evidence suggests it might have been used as a secure place to mint coins.
In 1467, Edward IV had granted a mint licence to Carlingford.
13. Smarmore Castle
Smarmore Castle is a classical piece of architecture with the main castle-keep build in the start of 14th century by Taaffe Family, later in 1720 and 1760 two extensions were added to both sides of the main building.
Build using the local stones, the castle’s walls are around eight-foot-thick, the area that was initially used as stables were converted to a courtyard during the 18th century.
To know more about Taaffe Family and Smarmore Castle, read the full Smarmore Castle history.
14. Taaffe Castle
Situated in the coastal town Carlingford, County Louth, this castle was built by Taaffes, a rich merchant family in the start of the 16th century. Its location near the old harbour indicates that it might have been used for trading on the lower floor and as a residence on the upper floors.
It is a well-fortified castle with features like murder holes, machicolations, and turrets. At present this castle has been modified into a pub.References:
- Castles in Ireland – Wikipedia
- Ireland Castles – Britain Ireland Castles site
- Knockabbey Castle – DiscoverIreland
- Hatch Castle – Megalithic Ireland
- Darver Castle – Castles In Ireland
- Bellingham Castle – History
- Carlingford Castle – Castles.nl
- Barmeath Castle – National Inventory of Architectural Heritage
- Haynestown Castle – Irish Antiquities
You can also explore a whole list of all the Castles in Ireland.