Rathcoffey Castle, Kildare, Ireland

After the Anglo Norman conquests of 1171 this area, then known then as Balraheen, present day Rathcoffey, and was under the control of the Hereford family. Following the marriage of Eve de Hereford and Walter de Rochford the barony moved into the hands of the Rochfords. In 1299, the lord of Rathcoffey, Henry Rochford who had no natural heir to his lands made an agreement with his cousin to succeed him, however this move failed and the lands reverted back to the Crown following the death of Henry and his widow Elizabeth. In 1317 the Manor of Rathcoffey was granted to Sir John Wogan. Wogan held the title Kings Governor of Ireland. The lands remained in the Wogan family and the gatehouse that still remains close to the main structure were mentioned in a Wogan dower in 1417.

In 1453 while the castle was under the ownership of Anne Eustace (nee Wogan) an army led by her relative Richard Wogan attacked and captured the castle, however the Eustaces still retained the lands nearby at Clongowes. During the late 15th century the area suffered frequent attacks by the native Irish and the infamous earthen boundary wall known as ‘The Pale’ was constructed through the Wogan lands, William Wogan was the lord of the area at that time. The following 100 years brought the reformation and much hardship for Irish Catholics, in 1580 a rebellion occurred within the pale and the then Lord of Rathcoffey William Wogan (great-grandson of the aforementioned William) took the side of the rebels and for his part in the uprising was executed and his lands forfeited.

The Wogan family soon regained control of much of the land surrounding Rathcoffey. During the rebellion and civil wars of the 1640s Nicholas Wogan sided with the rebels just as his ancestors had done. In 1642 an army commanded by Colonel Monk was sent to Rathcoffey and laid siege to the castle. The castle was eventually taken and the garrison were brought to Dublin and executed. Two centuries passed before the fate of the civilians who had been within the castle walls during the siege became known when numerous human bones were found in nearby woods. The Wogan lands were confiscated for some time but yet again the Wogan family regained Rathcoffey sometime during the late 1600s.

Rathcoffey remained in the hands of the Wogans until 1758 when Col. Nicholas Wogan died, he had no male heirs so the estate was divided between his two daughters Frances and Catherine. In 1784 Richard Wogan Talbot sold the estate to Archibald Hamilton Rowan, who built a new mansion incorporating the original Wogan castle into the structure. Archibald Rowan was a strong supporter of Irish liberty and became a founding member of the United Irishmen. After Rowan’s death the estate changed hands a number of times and ended up in the ownership of the Jesuits until it was sold in the 1970s to a local farmer.

GPS: 53.33154, -6.66487

6 thoughts on “Rathcoffey Castle, Kildare, Ireland

  1. Hi Triona,

    Indeed it seems it still is in private ownership but there are ways around that and one still has the right to cross someone’s land to reach another public road 😉 Basically if you know the area well just before you come to the national school (it should end up being on your left) you will see a gate on your left with a long straight path, lined by trees on both sides, you can reach it by following that path. I’m originally from Prosperous and used to spend my teenage years around Rathcoffey but still never knew about this place til a couple of years ago, its a gem 🙂 Hope thats of some help.


    • Indeed I need to get to one or two Celbridge places, kinda have overlooked them as they are so nearby (to Dublin where I am). I did feature Connolly’s Folly which you no doubt know of being a structural engineer. Was such a beautiful folly, shame they put that huge metal fence around it. I hadn’t been back there since I was a kid and was very disappointed they felt the need to do that 🙁

  2. Hi Ed,

    Great info and shots one of favourite spots in Kildare & Ireland, very much hidden Ireland. Haven’t been up to the castle in years and would love to do return shoot there at some stage.

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