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Dunganstown Castle gave refuge to James II after the Battle of the Boyne

Posted in Architecture, Castles, Famous battles, Historical articles, History, Royalty on Friday, 25 May 2012

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This edited article about Dunganstown Castle originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 712 published on 6 September 1975.

Battle of the Boyne, picture, image, illustration

Battle of the Boyne, after Benjamin West

Dunganstown Castle is a Norman castle in County Wicklow.

Unfortunately, no records can be found to tell us when and by whom the castle was built, but it is said that Welsh slates were used for the roof.

The present level of the castle has sunk thirteen feet (nearly 4 metres). The tower is still perfect and the remains of the courtyard and armoury room can still be seen, but there is no trace whatsoever of the chapel which stood opposite the castle as appears in the plans.

The tower is 14 and a half feet (approx. 4 metres) square, about 60 feet (18 metres) high and the walls are four feet (approx. 1 metre) thick.

The castle was at one time occupied by the Knights Templar and on their suppression, it passed on to the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem. A rich merchant in Dublin by the name of Dungan bought the property in the year 1542.

From the castle Lord Howard of Effingham, High Admiral of the English fleet, looked out across the sea while resting from the naval Spanish war in the days of Elizabeth I. From here, too, another of England’s great men of letters, gazed on the fields and trees of Ireland. He was Lord Francis Bacon.

King James stayed at Dunganstown one night on his flight from the battle of the Boyne. At the back of the castle is an old garden chair with a high arched back, and a curiously carved head at the apex of the arch. Here, it is said, King James sat and wept.

The castle was apparently destroyed early in the 17th century and seems never to have been rebuilt.

Legend has it that there are two tunnels under the castle, one which leads down to the church and the other which is supposed to lead to the Black Castle in Wicklow, six miles away.

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