Dundrum Castle
County Down

One of Ulster's most evocative medieval ruins, Dundrum Castle was founded by the legendary Norman adventurer John de Courcy following his invasion of Ulster in 1177. The site occupies the summit of a rocky hill commanding fine views over Dundrum Bay and the plains of Lecale, controlling access into east Down from the south. De Courcy's original castle may have had defences of earth and timber. In 1204 de Courcy was expelled from Ulster by Hugh de Lacy who proceeded to strengthen the castle, probably employing master masons from the Welsh Marches. The castle was captured by King John in 1210 and remained Crown property until de Lacy was allowed to return in 1226. The Maginnis family held it intermittently from the 14th century until the Parliamentarians dismantled it in 1652. The dwelling was ruined by the time it passed to the second Marquess of Downshire in the early 19th century, though the trees on the hill were probably planted at this time. The castle and grounds were placed in State care in 1954.

Dundrum village. NGR: J 404370.