Medieval Gem

John Montague explores Dunsoghly Castle in North County Dublin, one of Ireland’s most interesting buildings

Should you find yourself on the right-hand window seat flying out of Dublin Airport into the western sky, you might catch a glimpse of one of Ireland’s most arresting medieval buildings, Dunsoghly Castle, in the parish of St Margaret’s, north county Dublin, a mile or two west of the airport runway. A very fine and intact version of a type of building that remains still widespread across Ireland, Dunsoghly Castle stands almost 80ft (24m) high. The OPW site cannot be reached by road and is only accessible by crossing private farm land, which means the castle is infrequently visited and well preserved.

The tall tower has tapered turrets at its four corners, all of them a level above the parapet of the four-storey central block. The base of the walls is battered to the height of about 2.4m and these walls are laid in roughly coursed rubble limestone of fairly thin dimensions, although the stones of the batter are larger and more finely cut. There are long and short quoin stones at the corners and large window openings were broken into the walls, possibly in the late 16th century. These were filled with fixed windows of a vaguely 18th-century style sometime after 1916. Original medieval arrow loops in the batter and smaller windows on the upper floors of the turrets still survive.

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