Adare Castle, County Limerick

The time-worn remains of this Anglo-Norman fortress on the banks of the River Maigue may be counted among the most impressive castles in Ireland. It was first mentioned in 1226 as being held by Geoffrey de Marisco, but later passed to the FitzGeralds, possibly as early as 1240. The Earls of Kildare retained ownership for nearly 300 years until Silken Thomas's rebellion of 1536, when it was forfeited and granted to the Earl of Desmond. Barely forty years later, in 1578, the Munster Geraldines were themselves in rebellion and lost the castle to English troops after an eleven-day siege. Attempts to retrieve the castle resulted in a series of notably bloody sieges in 1579, 1581 and 1600, leaving the fabric badly damaged. It was finally dismantled by Parliamentary troops in 1657.

The castle was probably begun in the 1190s and initially comprised a large square tower and an enclosing D-shaped fosse, together with a hall block to the south in an outer ward. The tower, notable for having corner turrets projecting from the side walls, was remodelled in the fifteenth century and is thus difficult to assess confidently, though it appears originally to have had three storeys with a first floor entrance. No doubt it served as the lord's accommodation and thus complemented the more public function of the Great Hall by the river, which was clearly built to entertain visitors: a spacious rectangular apartment with round-headed lights with roll mouldings. At a later period its basement was subdivided and a latrine added on the south side.

The curtain walls around the inner ward and along the west side of the outer ward were possibly built around 1240, no doubt replacing timber palisades. The inner ward has a south gate tower and an open-gorged bastion on the west side, while there is a square west-gate tower into the outer ward. The very ruined aisled Great Hall, to the east of the old hall, may have been added in 1326 when the second Earl of Kildare undertook extensive works at the castle. It is flanked by kitchens and service rooms, which extend to the eastern perimeter of the outer ward - whose well-preserved battlemented walls may be largely fifteenth century in date.

Located 9 miles SW of Limerick on the E side of the main road into Adare (T11).
NGR: R 471467.
National Monument. The castle is in a dangerous condition, but plans are in effect for a programme of conservation.
There is a new heritage centre nearby.