Drimnagh Castle, Dublin

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Drimnagh CastleHidden from view by the more recent school buildings that share the name, Drimnagh Castle is a Norman Castle Keep located on the now named Long Mile Road, Drimnagh, Dublin.  The Castle was once home to the great Anglo-Norman Barnewall – also called deBarnwall or deBerneval -  family all of whom were descended from Hugh de Barnewall, who came to Ireland in 1212.  The influence of this family lasted over 400 years, and by 1395, when Reginald Barnewall held lands in Ballyfermot, Terenure, parts of Finglas as well as Drimnagh.

Drimnagh Castle, 1996. Dublin City Council Photographic Collection.

The Barnewalls built a castle on this site in the 13th century, to protect their possessions and lands from raids by the Irish Chieftains, who came to Dublin from their strongholds in the Dublin and Wicklow mountains.  The site, at the top of the Lansdowne Valley, through which the River Camac flowed, gave panoramic views of the then rural Co. Dublin.  The nearby river and its tributaries provided water for the castle moat and also a mill and mill-race.  In the time of James 1, the ownership of the castle passed to Adam Loftus, a nephew of Archbishop Loftus, of Rathfarnham castle who lived in Drimnagh until his appointment as Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1619.

Drimnagh Castle

The castle is reputed to be haunted by Lady Eleanora de Barnewall, who was a maid, bride and widow in one day.  She eloped on the return journey from her arranged marriage to her cousin, Edmund, with Hugh O’Byrne of Wicklow.  Unfortunately in the battle, Edmund was killed and Hugh mortally wounded.  Eleanora was missing for some days, and eventually found dead from exposure, beside the grave of her lover in Glenasmole.  Legend has it that she is buried beside him.

Catherine Scuffil, Historian in Residence, Dublin South Central

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