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A Norman Castle – Drimnagh Castle

Situated in the beautiful suburb of Drimnagh in Dublin, Ireland is one of the most picturesque castles you can lay your eyes on. Surrounded by gorgeous, green hedges and a maze of paths directing you to the castle, it comes as no surprise that people adore this unique castle. Even just a glimpse of Drimnagh Castle is enough to take your breath away.

The history of Drimnagh Castle

This castle is incredibly beautiful. However, its looks aren’t the only thing that is special about this grand castle. Drimnagh Castle is the only remaining castle in Ireland that still has a flooded moat around it. The moat in question is fed by a small local river.

There are many things to like about this beautiful castle. Keep reading to find out about this beloved Irish castle.

The structure we see today dates back to the 15th century. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The early history

The Barnewall family were the first to build a fortification on the estate of Drimnagh Castle in the 13th century. However, the structures that we see today mainly date back to the early 15th century. The earliest recorded owner of the castle was Sir Hugh de Bernival. His name was recorded in state papers in reference to Ireland in 1216. His family were later known as Barnewell or sometimes Barnewall. They owned the castle for many centuries.

The castle consists of a 15th century great hall within the moat along with a 16th or 17th-century tower. You will also find a rather large early-20th-century stone building on the same site. That stone building was used as a coach house, stable, and ballroom.

Joseph Hatch

By the time that the mid-19th century came around, the castle was owned by the Marquess of Lansdowne. However, in the very early 20th century, the castle and surrounding estate were purchased by Joseph Hatch. Joseph was a dairyman born in 1851. He was a loyal member of the Dublin City Council representing Fitzwilliam Ward.

He purchased the castle to provide grazing land for his beloved cattle to live out their days. He also set out to restore the castle which later became a summer home for his family. It was also the very location that he celebrated the silver wedding anniversary with his wife as well as the marriage of his eldest daughter, Mary, in 1910.

He passed away in 1918 and the ownership of the castle passed to Joseph Aloysius, also known as Louis, their eldest son. Together with his brother Hugh, they managed the dairy farm and the dairy shop. Never married, Louis passed away in December of 1951 after his brother had passed the year before.

Changing hands

Drimnagh Castle was occupied by the Hatch family until the mid-1950s. Louis Hatch then left the castle to Dr. P. Dunne, Bishop of Nara who ended up selling the castle to the Christian Brothers to build the school that currently stands there. At first, the brothers lived at the castle and ran the school there until they moved to their new schools nearby.

Castles of Leinster: Drimnagh, Dublin (1)
Joespeh Hatch purchased the castle. Source: Geograph

Left as a ruin

In 1978, the local An Caisleán Gaelic Athletic Association club now known as St James Gaels GAA club took total possession of the castle’s coach house. They then renovated it to become their new clubhouse with an adjoining hall, kitchen and changing rooms with showers. However, by the mid-1980s, the castle had been left to ruin.

There were fallen roofs, missing windows, and partly collapsed masonry. In the year 1986, Peter Pearson set up a local committee and got Fás involved in a conservation and restoration project for the castle. All of the work was carried out by hand including plastering and wood carving, construction of the great hall, mullioned stone windows, and lime mortars. There was also a formal medieval-style garden was also created.

The present day

Drimnagh Castle was re-opened to the public in the year 1991. There was additional restoration work done throughout the 1990s. As of 2019, the castle provides tours and can be hired for events. There are also dry-stone walling courses run at the castle.

You may enjoy reading about other Irish castles such as Donegal Castle.

Drimnagh Castle in the snow
The castle has a flooded moat. Source: Wikipedia Commons.

Drimnagh Castle Timeline

  • 13th century- The Barnewall family are the first to build a fortification on the estate of Drimnagh Castle
  • 15th century- The castle saw some major changes
  • 16th or 17th century- A tower is built
  • Mid-19th century- The castle is owned by the Marquess of Lansdowne
  • Early 20th century- The castle and surrounding estate is purchased by Joseph Hatch
  • 1918- The ownership of the castle passes to Joseph Aloysius
  • 1978- The local An Caisleán Gaelic Athletic Association club now known as St James Gaels GAA club, takes total possession of the castle’s coach house
  • Mid-1980s- The castle is left to ruin
  • 1986- Peter Pearson sets up a local committee and gets Fás involved in a conservation and restoration project for the castle
  • 1991- Drimnagh Castle opens to the public
  • 2019- The castle provides tours and events

Drimnagh Castle facts

  • Drimnagh Castle is known as Caisleán Dhroimeanaigh in Irish
  • The castle is the only one in Ireland that’s surrounded by a flooded moat
  • Drimnagh Castle used to be one of the longest continuously inhabited castles in Ireland
  • There were many undocumented raids and battles in the castle
  • The earliest recorded owner of the castle was Sir Hugh de Bernival

Drimnagh Castle featured in TV and film

  • The Abduction Club (2002)
  • Ella Enchanted (2004)
  • The Tudors (2007-2010)
  • The Old Curiosity Shop (2007)
  • Moonfleet (2013)

Books on Drimnagh Castle

  • A History of Drimnagh Castle by Michael O’Flanagan (2011)

Tourism

Nowadays, Drimnagh Castle welcomes visitors every year to enjoy their tours and events. You can enjoy many events, including weddings, at the castle. It is an ideal venue, and it is the perfect place to celebrate. All tours must be booked beforehand, and walk-ins will not be accepted for safety reasons.

It is important to know that the castle only accepts Euro cash payments and charges may be subject to change. As of now, prices are €6.00 for adults, €4.00 for children, and €5.00 for students. If you wish to visit the medieval garden, small donations are appreciated to go towards upkeep.

Nearby, you can also visit Corkagh Park, Kilmainham Gaol Museum, Richmond Barracks, and St Stephens Green.

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