Carbury Castle, Kildare, Ireland

The majority of the ruin that sits on top of the hill at Carbury dates from the late 16th and early 17th century however the site itself has a history dating back to pre-Christian times. The hill was once known as Sidh Nechtain (the Fairy-Hill of Nechtain), Nechtain was described as a poet and King of Leinster who had a fortress near this location. The hill on which the castle sits was the centre of a territory known as Cairbre Uí Chiardha, and was associated with a sept of the mighty Uí Néill clan who were the Lords of Carbury according to the Annals of the Four Masters. The infamous Irish 5th century king Niall of the Nine Hostages was a antecedent of this clan and the name Carbury is believed to derive from Cairbre, one of Niall’s sons. Shortly after the arrival of the Anglo-Normans to Ireland the lands at Carbury were granted to Norman Meiler Fitzhenry who constructed a motte on the site. The lands then came into the possession of the De Bermingham family who built the first castle on the hill.

Due to its position just outside the Pale the castle was the site of numerous battles between English barons and Irish Chieftains. The castle was burned and demolished during one attack by Red Hugh O’Donnell when he was attacking castles in Leinster. During the reign of Elizabeth I the lands were granted to Henry Colley, a soldier who became a Knight in 1574. A lot of the major additions, including the four eye-catching chimney stacks and large mullioned windows, were added around this time. The house stayed in the Colley family for generations until a Richard Colley took the name Wesley after inheriting a relatives lands in Meath. Richard’s brother Henry Colley had only one child, a daughter named Mary who married Arthur Pomeroy, who became first Viscount Pomeroy 1791. It was believed that during the lifetime of this couple of the castle was finally abandoned as the Pomeroys had built New berry Hall nearby. The Duchas Schools Collection of 1937 has some great stories about the hill, legends of ghosts and large ‘hell-hounds’, the interventions of the ‘good people’, the skeletons of ‘huge men’ and even gold buried within the hill! The prominent position the castle holds overlooking such flat terrain as one finds in Kildare its not hard to see how this location would have always been strategically important.

GPS: 53.36157, -6.96905

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