Clonmacnoise Castle, Offaly, Ireland

On a recent trip to Clonmacnoise I couldn’t help but be enamoured by the distinctive Clonmacnoise Castle just outside the perimeter of the monastery. The castle’s unique look, balancing precariously on top of an old earthwork, it seems like part of it could fall into the Shannon at any moment. The ruins are dangerous and very unstable but I had to pop in and see it up close. A wooden Motte and Bailey castle would have stood on the site originally but was destroyed during the Anglo-Norman colonisation from 1170-1220. The site held an important vantage point, for it was one of the earliest strongholds in the Midlands but also because it guarded a crossing point on the Shannon River. The stone structure was built in around 1215 and would have been a tower three stories in height, with a courtyard surrounding it and a drawbridge would have been placed over the ditch. It is believed the castle didn’t last that long, and was abandoned and destroyed during the Gaelic resurgence in the area.

Clonmacnoise Castle is one of those ruins that really captivates you, its steadfast refusal to collapse when it seems like it really should is a huge part of its charm, a unique place. If paying a visit to Clonmacnoise I suggest having a look yourself, just remember the earth surrounding the castle is quite precarious and don’t go wearing Chelsea boots with no grip or you will certainly slip and fall, speaking from experience!

GPS: 53.32544, -7.98931

6 thoughts on “Clonmacnoise Castle, Offaly, Ireland

  1. Wow it looks like its going to slide right off the hill in those first two pictures! Amazing…thank you for such an interesting post and pictures.

  2. I was so thrilled to come across your wonderful photos. This was originally the home of Hugh DeLacey. In recent times, this was my dad and his family land until about 30 years ago.I grew up climbing and hiding in the castle walls and moat area (though the interior seems to have filled in a bit with grass since then) I never feared it falling down though, as my father often reminded me that it was destined to fall on a ‘red head’ which I wasn’t! When I was about 4 years old the film ‘Flight of the Doves’ shot some scenes there.Thanks again

      • He was not allowed to graze his cattle there nor allowed to build or sell the land privately. So he had relunctantly had only 1 option which was to sell it to the State. I believe it was around 1984 (then the state let others graze the land!!)

      • I’d like to say I’m surprised by the State’s attitude to it but alas I’ve seen too much! Still such a beautiful place to have played in around as a child, even as an adult its still such a bizarre and intriguing sight.

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