Drimnagh Castle

Drimnagh Castle, located in Drimnagh, a suburb of Dublin, Ireland, is a freestanding rectangular-plan, multiple-bay, three-storey castle that has a rich historical background and distinctive architectural features. This castle, originally built around 1400, includes an undercroft, a great hall, and a gallery, with a notable sixteenth-century square-plan keep to the south. A unique characteristic of Drimnagh Castle is its enclosing moat, one of the few remaining examples in Ireland, which adds to its medieval charm.

 

Architectural Features
Roof and Parapets: The Great Hall of Drimnagh Castle has a replacement oak truss pitched slate roof, hipped to the north, featuring a shaped stone parapet, a fumerelle, and a brick chimney on the north gable. The keep has a hipped slate roof with a castellated parapet and stone battlements, along with a brick chimney on the south elevation. The base of the parapet of the main block is adorned with billeted stone moulding, while the tower boasts a cut stone string course.Windows and Openings: The castle’s main block and tower feature reconstructed window openings with cut limestone surrounds, and replacement carved tracery and leaded glass. The Great Hall has square-headed openings on the east and west elevations, with the east side openings highlighted by brick pediments. The tower exhibits paired round-headed lancet windows on the east and west elevations, with lower pairs also having brick pediments. Additionally, loop windows can be found on the south elevation of the tower.Entrances and Undercroft: The entrance to the inner courtyard is through an integral arch in the tower. The undercroft has a lowered pointed arch entrance with limestone voussoirs and a replacement timber door. Access from the courtyard to the Great Hall is provided by a gabled stone entrance porch and steps built around 1780. The fourteenth-century undercroft is notable for its vaulted ceiling with remnants of wicker centering, embrasure windows, a sixteenth-century hearth, smoker, and bain-marie. Stone staircases to the south and north-east provide access to the Great Hall, which features a seventeenth-century hearth, a reconstructed oak truss roof, and a gallery. The sixteenth-century tower also includes lookout turrets to the south and west.

Historical Background
Medieval Period: Drimnagh Castle’s origins date back to the early 13th century when the lands were granted to the Norman knight Hugh de Berneval in 1215. The Barnwell family, as they became known, constructed the initial fortifications, including the undercroft. The castle served as a fortress and residence for the Barnewall family for over 400 years, playing a significant role in local defense and community life.

Alanus de Berneval Alanus de Berneval, who fought alongside William the Conqueror in 1066, was a significant figure in the family’s early history. He participated in the conquest of Ireland in 1172 and was granted lands in Terenure and Drimnagh in 1215, marking the beginning of the Barnewall’s long association with the area.

Roger de Barneville Roger de Barneville received lands from William the Conqueror in 1078. The Barnewall family’s contributions to the Holy War and military campaigns against Sultan Kilidge Anslan further established their prominence.

Jordan de Barneville Jordan de Barneville pledged allegiance to Philip Augustus in 1204, highlighting the family’s enduring ties to European nobility and military service.

Reginald de Berneval Reginald de Berneval played a crucial role in the family’s history, serving in Dublin Castle and participating in various expeditions. His death in 1331 marked the continuation of the family lineage through his descendants, who remained influential until the 17th century.

16th to 20th Century: In the 17th century, the Loftus family added the prominent tower, reflective of the period’s need for robust defenses. The 18th-century construction included an entrance bridge and walled garden, indicating a time of increased peace and prosperity. By the mid-19th century, the castle was owned by the Marquess of Lansdowne and later leased to the Hatch family in the early 20th century.

In the early 20th century, Drimnagh Castle found a new custodian in Joseph Hatch, a dairyman from 6 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin. Hatch was a dedicated member of Dublin City Council, representing Fitzwilliam Ward from 1895 to 1907. He purchased Drimnagh Castle and its surrounding lands in the early 1900s to provide grazing land for his cattle. Hatch undertook significant restoration work on the castle, transforming it into a summer retreat for his family. Notably, the castle served as the venue for the celebration of his and his wife Mary Connell’s silver wedding anniversary and their eldest daughter’s wedding in 1910.

Joseph Aloysius “Louis” Hatch (1882-1951): Upon Joseph Hatch’s death in April 1918, ownership of the castle passed to his eldest son, Joseph Aloysius, known as Louis. Alongside his brother Hugh, Louis managed the family dairy farm and shop on Lower Leeson Street. Louis continued to maintain the castle until his death in December 1951, leaving it to Dr. P. Dunne, the Bishop of Nara.

Bishop Dr. P. Dunne: Dr. P. Dunne, the Bishop of Nara, inherited Drimnagh Castle from Louis Hatch. Bishop Dunne sold the property, reportedly for a nominal sum, to the Christian Brothers. This transaction facilitated the construction of a new school adjacent to the castle, marking a new chapter in the castle’s history.

The Christian Brothers: The Christian Brothers, a Catholic religious order, took ownership of Drimnagh Castle in the mid-1950s. They lived in the castle and ran a school on the grounds until 1956, when they moved to a new complex nearby. The castle remained unused for several decades and fell into a state of disrepair.

Peter Pearson and An Taisce: In the mid-1980s, Drimnagh Castle was in ruins with fallen roofs, missing windows, and collapsed masonry. Artist Peter Pearson, working with An Taisce (the National Trust for Ireland), established a local committee to restore the castle. In 1986, they collaborated with FÁS (Foras Áiseanna Saothair), the state training authority, to launch a conservation and restoration program. The restoration work included constructing a 15th-century-style medieval oak roof over the great hall, installing mullioned stone windows, and using traditional lime mortars for building and plastering. A formal medieval-style garden was also created during this period.

Drimnagh Castle Today
Drimnagh Castle reopened to the public in 1991 after extensive restoration work. Today, it serves as a popular tourist attraction, offering guided tours, venue rentals for weddings and events, and educational courses such as dry stone walling. The castle’s preserved medieval architecture, including its unique flooded moat, provides a glimpse into Ireland’s rich history and heritage.

Haunted Legends
Eleanora Barnewall: Drimnagh Castle is reputedly haunted by the ghost of Eleanora Barnewall, the niece of Hugh de Barnewall. According to legend, Eleanora was pressured into an arranged marriage, but fell in love with Sean O’Byrne, a member of a rival clan. The tragic tale involves a violent clash resulting in the deaths of both her intended and Sean O’Byrne. Heartbroken, Eleanora wandered towards the Wicklow hills where she was found dead. Her spirit is said to linger in the castle, with reports of her crying and the smell of lilies wafting through the oratory.


Owner / Occupier Information:

1832 Edward Kavanagh
[missing]
1850 – 1875 Mrs. Elizabeth Cavanagh
1876 – 1898 Mrs Mylott
1899 Vacant
1901 – 1904 Luke Traynor
1904 – 1950 Joseph and Hugh Hatch (Hatch Sons)


Appears in the following maps:
Related People:
Sir Nicholas Barnewall (1st Viscount Barnewall of Kingsland) - Prominent landowner who was active in local affairs around his home at Drimnagh. Read More ...
James Bathe - In 1545 he was residing at Drimnagh Castle, near Dublin, his wife, Elizabeth, being the widow of its late owner, Robert Barnewall Read More ...

Building Details
Longitude: -6.332829225614589
Latitude: 53.32498745704895
Still exists: Yes
Date built: 1400c
Date first mentioned: 1400
Road(s): Drimnagh Road