Athcarne Castle, Meath, Ireland

I had almost given up on my search for this castle ruins on a sunny day last May but once I found it I was deeply happy I had persisted. Ignoring the incessant dog barking I hopped the fence and headed towards this fine Elizabethan castle. The original tower and mansion house were built by William Bathe in 1590, the house was rebuilt in 1830 keeping the original tower and adding a formidable turret. The last occupant of Athcarne Castle was James Gernon who lived there until the 1950’s. Athcarne is a bit of a deathtrap so watch your footing if you visit, it is a truly amazing place with the original stone staircase at the northwest corner leading all the way to the top, 77 steps in all. Two floors still remain semi intact, but I would not recommend attempting to walk out into the rooms as bits of the house were creaking anytime a heavy wind passed through! 

GPS: 53.62155, -6.4406

20 thoughts on “Athcarne Castle, Meath, Ireland

    • Its a gem. Some incredibly beautiful features throughout the house but sadly with no zoom lens and poor camera skills photos of these were unattainable! I would recommend popping into the nearby Balrath Mill (documented elsewhere on the site) if only to see the beautiful archway that creates a passageway for what would have been a manmade canal leading to a nearby river.

  1. I remember a family visit to the Gernons in Athcarne Castle about 80 years ago. Even then, the weeds stretched up to the hall door and signs of decay were everywhere but the great glory of the house was a very ornate bedroom with an enormous four poster with elaborate tapestry hangings , obviously 17th century if not even earlier. This was said to be where Kng James slept on a visit to the castle on the way to the Battle of the Boyne. I wonder what happened to it ? Sad to see the castle in such a ruinous state.

  2. My grandfather (Owen Neary 1861-1934 of Cookstown, Ardee) lists Mary Gernon of Athcairn Castle as one of his great great grandmothers. She lived from 1746 until 4th April 1780 and married owen Markey of Reynoldstown in 1764. Is there any further information available on the Gernon family – such as when they acquired the property?

    • Hi Finbar,
      I had a look at your Facebook page on the history of Athcarne Castle and the work you have put into it is very impressive.
      My interpretation of the history as you present it and the entry into my grandfather’s pedigree which he made at some time after Feb. 1910 is that his ancestor Mary Gernon was from the same family as those who were currently (ie. in 1910) living in that castle. I can find no other reasonable explanation at this point.
      Thanks for the effort you have put into this.
      Best Wishes
      Patrick Neary

  3. Hi Patrick,
    Many thanks for your response. The Gernon name was very strong in Louth alright, even having a Gernonstown near Ardee. I believe the Gernons in Athcarne also had a property somewhere near the sea in Louth which they were renting out.

    It can be confusing at times as I’ve come across references to Gernon’s of Athcarne back into the 1700’s when there are newspaper clippings citing the Garnett’s as owning Athcarne Castle up as late as 1828. It may be because the Athcarne branch of the Gernon’s seemed to be the ‘senior’ branch of the family and if people were directly related to them they were sometimes called Athcarne Gernons. Just a theory.

    When I have time I’m going to start delving into old records (up to now everything I’ve researched has been internet based or old books that have been scanned and published online). There must also be a huge amount of information that hasn’t been put online yet.

    Again, thanks a million for responding and I’m glad you enjoyed the Castle history.


    • Hi again Finbar,
      It can indeed be confusing when there appear to be contradictions and conflicts in the so-called historic evidence. Who was it that said “all history is lies”?

      I suppose that just because something was written in a newspaper it need not neccessarily mean that it is 100% accurate.

      Then of course the names Gernon and Garnett are not all that different. The name Garland is also derived from Gernon as far as I can recall.

      I’m sure that it will become clear over time……….



  4. I hope one day to visit this place. I’m in America but my girlfriend is from Northern Ireland so when I go over I plan to find it to see it for myself. Can you just walk up to it or is their people living on the property. I read somewhere it was owned by the state now

  5. You can just drive down to the end of the lane & hop the gate into the property nothing is there to stop you

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