Dublin Castle, County Dublin

Fragments are all that remain of the great medieval fortress that once served as a symbol of Royal authority in Ireland and the centre of administration. From 1684 to 1761 it was extensively rebuilt, though the shape of the Anglo-Norman castle roughly coincides with the rebuilding. Its construction began in 1204 when King John directed Meiler FitzHenry, the Justiciar, to make a castle in Dublin "with good ditches and strong walls". Meiler chose a site on a ridge at the south-east corner of the city walls that was previously dublin castle occupied by Henry II's "royal palace roofed with wattles" and possibly by a Hiberno-Norse forerunner. It was completed around 1228 and remained more-or-less intact until the seventeenth century.

The castle, comprising a roughly rectangular enclosure with massive drum towers at each corner, was an outstanding example of a "keepless" castle and has been compared to contemporary French castles such as Le Coudray Salbart. Its east and south walls rose above the natural fosse provided by the River Poddle (now underground), whose waters also fed an artificial moat on its north and west sides. Excavations revealed this moat to be largely quarried from the limestone bedrock. The main gateway was sited beneath the present-day Genealogical Office, where excavations have indicated the presence of a bar barican with a drawbridge each side. The south-east or Record Tower still boasts massive thirteenth-century work two-storeys high. The 1985-87 excavations, carried out in advance of an EEC Conference Centre, exposed the base of the Corke Tower on the north-west and this, together with part of the moat, is now on view outside the new hall. Excavations around the Bermingham Tower, rebuilt in 1775, revealed the foundations of a square tower projecting from, and contemporary with, its old base. At this time excavations beneath eighteenth-century buildings exposed the full outline of the Powder Tower at the north-east corner, together with the earthen defences of the pre-Norman town below.

The castle had a comparatively uneventful history and only ever had to endure one siege, when Silken Thomas made an unsuccessful and rather disorganised attempt to capture it in 1534. For many centuries it was the official residence of the Lords Deputy and Lords Lieutenant of Ireland, the home of State councils, and sometimes Parliament and the Law Courts.

Located behind the city hall with access off Castle Street.
NGR: O 154339.
National Monument.
Open all year except 24-26 December and Good Friday.
Admission fee charged.
State apartments may be closed for state functions.
Tel: (01) 6777129.