Ruins in Aghnakily

Rock of Dunamase

6,935 people have been here
7.8/10

The Rock of Dunamase (Dún Masc "the fort of Masc" in Irish Gaelic), is one of the most historic sites in Ireland. Its ruins date back many hundreds of years. The Rock stands 150 feet (46m) tall in the heart of what is otherwise a flat plain, and was ideal as a defensive position with its view right up to the Slieve Bloom Mountains.

Excavations in the 1990s demonstrated that the Rock was first settled in the 9th century when a fort or dun was constructed on the site. In 845 the Vikings of Dublin attacked the site and the abbot of Terryglass was killed there. There is no clear evidence of 10th-11th century occupation.

The castle was built in the second half of the 12th century. Who built it is not recorded, but Meyler FitzHenry is the most likely candidate. Strongbow is another possibility, as it was he who controlled Leinster as heir of Dermot McMurrough. With the marriage of Stongbow's daughter and heir, Isabel, the castle passed into the hands of the Marshal family. William Marshal, who later became Regent of England in the minority of Henry III, had 5 sons all of whom succeeded him in turn and died without issue. So in 1247 the Marshal lands were divided among William's 5 daughters. Dunamase fell to Eve Marshal and then to her daughter, Maud, who was married to Roger Mortimer. The castle remained in Mortimer hands until 1330 when another Roger Mortimer was executed for treason. By the time the Mortimer family was rehabilitated the castle seems to have passed out of the area under Norman control. There is no evidence that the castle was taken over and used by the local Irish lords and it seems to have become a ruinous shell by 1350.

Nor is there evidence that the castle was reoccupied in the 17th century. It played no part in the Cromwellian wars, except that it was blown up at that time to prevent it being used. In the later 18th century Sir John Parnell started to build a banqueting hall within the ruins and this work incorporated medieval architectural details taken from other sites in the area. It is these features which have lead some writers to believe that there was a later medieval rebuild and reoccupation of the castle.

Located in County Laois, the site is a short distance from the N80, between the towns of Portlaoise and Stradbally.

References

  • A summary of recent work at the Rock of Dunamase, Co. Laois, by Brian Hodkinson, in JR Kenyon and K O'Conor, The Medieval Castle in Ireland and Wales, Dublin 2003
  • The Sources for the History of Dunamase Castle, by B.J. Hodkinson,Laois Heritage Society Journal, No 1, 2003.

Notes

External links

Categories:
Post a comment
Tips & Hints
Arrange By:
Victor Fitzpatrick
1 June 2018
Walking is steep and may be a little difficult for elderly walkers or younger children
Victor Fitzpatrick
17 May 2018
Beautiful views on a fine day of the surrounding countryside
Jico Baligod
18 May 2013
Amazing views of Ireland's scenic landscapes at the top. Also a great place to climb some 12th century ruins.
Load more comments
foursquare.com
Location
Map
Address

0.2km from Unnamed Road, Co. Laois, Ireland

Get directions
References

The Rock of Dunamaise on Foursquare

Rock of Dunamase on Facebook

Hotels nearby

See all hotels See all
The Heritage Killenard

starting $261

Killenard Apartments

starting $387

The Killeshin Hotel

starting $224

Midlands Park Hotel formerly Portlaoise Heritage Hotel

starting $271

Maldron Hotel Portlaoise

starting $195

The Abbeyleix Manor Hotel

starting $151

Recommended sights nearby

See all See all
Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Carlow Castle

Carlow Castle is situated on the banks of the River Barrow near Carlow

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Foulksrath Castle

Foulksrath Castle (Irish: Caislean Ratha) is a 15th century

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Dunmore Cave

Dunmore Cave is a limestone cave in Ballyfoyle, County Kilkenny,

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Durrow Abbey

Durrow Abbey is a historic site in Durrow, County Offaly in Ireland.

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Barretstown Castle

Barretstown Castle is a castle in Ballymore Eustace, County Kildare,

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Birr Castle

Birr Castle is a large castle in the town of Birr in County Offaly,

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Kells Priory

Kells Priory is one of the largest and most impressive medieval

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Clonony

Clonony Castle is a Tudor castle built by the MacCoughlan clan, and

Similar tourist attractions

See all See all
Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle is a ruined medieval fortress located upon a

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Heidelberg Castle

The Heidelberg Castle (in German language named: Heidelberger Schloss)

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Burgruine Dürnstein

Burgruine Dürnstein is a castle in Lower Austria, Austria.

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Raglan Castle

Raglan Castle [1] (Welsh: Castell Rhaglan) is a significant late

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle (Irish: Dún Lios, 'strong fort') is a now-ruined

See all similar places