The Rock passed to the most famous knight in medieval Europe, William Marshall, when he married Isabel de Clare, daughter of Strongbow. Most of the visible remains on the site today probably date to Marshall’s time. He was an extremely progressive lord who is responsible for some of Ireland’s most famous castles like those at Kilkenny and Carlow.
Dunamase is a wonderful place for a walk and is easily accessible off the N7.
You can discover the story of Dunamase by downloading our free MP3 audio guide to the site – visit AbartaAudioGuides to get your free copy
Castleroache, County Louth
One of the best of Ireland’s hidden heritage treasures, Castleroache is possibly the finest example of Ireland’s mid-thirteenth century castles. It is thought to have been constructed by Lady Rohesia de Verdun in 1236 to serve as a bastion of defense for the Anglo-Norman colony in Louth against the Gaelic tribes of Ulster.
Lady Rohesia was a formidable woman, and is said to have thrown the castle’s architect through one of the tower windows so he could never reveal the castle's secrets. Castleroache has to be one of the most impressive heritage sites I have visited in Ireland, and it is one of those sites that is so massive, so imposing and so breathtaking that pictures cannot do it justice. It is one you must experience for yourself to gain a true impression of its size and grandeur.
For more information about its history and instructions on how to find it at TimeTravelIreland.
The Towers, County Waterford
The ‘Towers’ is one of the best examples of a nineteenth century folly existing in Ireland today. The Towers were commissioned by Arthur Kiely-Ussher around 1835. He had inherited over 8,000 acres of land in the area and quickly gained a reputation for being a harsh and cruel landlord.
It is said that his wife had become deeply envious of Strancally Castle, built by Arthur’s brother John Kiely, and hectored Arthur to build a residence to outshine that of his brother. Plans for an extravagant mansion were drawn and work began on the long and winding carriageway, with an ornate gate lodge. They then constructed the elaborate bridge over a small stream, with large towers flanking each side of the bridge.
However, their grandiose ambitions quickly outstripped their funds and they ran out of money soon after completing the bridge. Their dreams of building a huge mansion were never to come true. They spent their days living in the now demolished Ballysaggartmore House and must have despaired as they traveled along their stunning carriageway, knowing that it would never lead to the mansion they had so desired.
Kiely-Ussher’s folly has left us with a superbly atmospheric and unique place to go for a walk.
The site is pretty easy to find, just take the R666 from Lismore heading towards Fermoy (signposted left after the bridge past Lismore Castle). You’ll find the Towers after about 3–4km well signposted on the right hand side.
For more information about the history visit TimeTravelIreland.
If you plan on visiting a number of heritage sites around Ireland consider purchasing an OPW Heritage Card. It allows you to visit as many OPW heritage sites (including Newgrange, The Rock of Cashel, Trim Castle and hundreds more) as you like for a year.
The cards are exceptionally good value at €21 ($30) for an adult, €16 ($22) for seniors (60 years old and over) €8 ($11) for students and children under 18, and just €55 ($75) for a family (that includes two adults and a reasonable number of children under the age of 18).
As Newgrange alone costs €11 per adult, the Heritage Cards are a great way to save money on your trip.
For more information please visit HeritageIreland.ie/en/Info/HeritageCards. And don’t forget to download your audio guide to some of Ireland’s most iconic heritage sites from my website www.abartaaudioguides.com.