Greencastle,
County Down

A popular 19th-century travel handbook exclaimed of Greencastle, "You would go into ecstasies if you saw such ruins on the Rhine, and quote 'Childe Harold' by the canto." The fortress is impressive, though its dramatic setting at the mouth of Carlingford Lough adds much to its appeal, with views over a sweeping landscape and towering mountains beyond.

The castle was built by Hugh de Lacy almost certainly during the 1230s and from 1280 to 1326 was a favoured residence of the most powerful man in Ireland, Richard de Burgh, the "Red Earl" of Ulster. His daughters were raised here, including Elizabeth, who married Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, although this did not dissuade Edward Bruce from sacking it in 1316. In 1505 it was granted to the Earls of Kildare, but after their downfall in 1534 quickly deteriorated into a "wretched condition". The place was later destroyed by Parliamentary forces in 1652.

Remodelling of the hall in the 15th and 16th centuries gave it much of its present keep-like appearance. For centuries the green below the castle played host to a great fair every August. It was often called "Ram Fair" as a great ram was customarily enthroned on top of the castle's walls.

6.5 km (4 miles) SW of Kilkeel. NGR: J 247119.