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Trim castle
Semi-Ruined Anglo-Norman Castle in the Republic of Ireland

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Trim castle is an Anglo-Norman castle, possibly the first stone castle in Ireland. It is located about 28 miles northwest of Dublin in County Meath, along the banks of the River Boyne. Trim has been described as “the finest and largest castle in Ireland”

It was built primarily by Hugh de Lacy and his son Walter, from the 11th century. de Lacy took possession of the present building in 1172. The Castle was used as a centre of Norman administration for the Liberty of Meath, one of the new administrative areas of Ireland created by Henry II of England and granted to Hugh de Lacy.

During the late Middle Ages, Trim Castle, still the centre of administration for Meat, marked the outer northern boundary of The Pale.

Today the castle is semi ruined, but still worth a visit. It is in use and open to public

 


Address:
Trim castle
Trim Castle
Trim
County Meath
IrelandS

Contact
Trim Visitor Centre
Town Hall
Castle Street
Trim
Telephone from the UK: 00 46 943 7227
Telephone from the US: 010 46 943 7227
Telephone from France: 00 46 943 7227
Telephone from other countries: +(0)46 943 7227

Fax: 046 943 8053
Website: http://www.meath.ie/Tourism/TouristInformation/
e-mail: trimvisitorcenter@eircom.net

 

 

Google Maps

 

Small scale map showing the location of
Trim castle

Google map showing the location of
Trim castle

Large scale map showing
Trim castle

 

Location

 

 

The castle site was chosen because it is on raised ground, overlooking a fording point over the River Boyne. It has an area of 30,000 m.

Trim Castle is open, on payment of a fee, to the public from 10am (Easter Saturday to October 31) .

The area inside the castle walls is freely accessible, while the Castle keep is visited by a 45-minute guided tour.

In winter, the complex is open only on weekends and bank holidays.

Situated southwest of Drogheda on the south side of the Boyne, practically every aspect of Trim Castle connotes power and dominance. Though the site may have been occupied briefly by pre-Norman native Irish, the site’s definitive history began with an earth and timber ringwork constructed by Hugh de Lacy in 1172 CE. De Lacy, a marcher lord, received the land for the castle along with the rest of County Meath from King Henry II .

 
 

 

 

History

 

De Lacy built a huge ringwork castle defended by a stout double palisade and external ditch on top of the hill. There may also have been further defences around the cliffs fringing the high ground. Part of a stone footed timber gatehouse lies beneath the present stone gate at the west side of the castle. The ringwork was attacked and burnt by the Irish but De Lacy immediately rebuilt it in 1173. His son Walter continued rebuilding and the castle was completed c 1204.

De Lacy used the site as a fortress and a means of controlling trade and transportation along the Boyne. Since he already controlled the port city of Drogheda, Trim served as a connecting point of control between east and west in County Meath and a defensive stronghold.

The next phase of the castle’s construction took place at the end of the 13th century, and the beginning of the 14th century. A new Great Hall with undercroft beneath it and an with attached solar in a radically altered curtain tower, and a new forework forebuilding, and stables were added to the keep.

After de Genneville's death his widow Joan married Roger Mortimer and the castle passed to the Mortimer family who held it until the lord of Trim became Edward IV king of England in 1461.

The castle was an important early medieval ecclesiastical and royal site, and although the site is about 25 miles from the Irish Sea, it was accessible in medieval times by boat up the River Boyne. Trim Castle is referred to in the Norman poem “The Song of Dermot and the Earl.”

 

Trim Castle grew to feature a great hall and a mint which were used extensively in the 15th and 16th centuries, concurrent with the time parliaments were held in the castle. During the 15th century the Irish Parliament met in Trim Castle seven times. It fell into decline in the 16th century but was refortified during the Cromwellian wars in the 1640s.

 

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the function of the castle turned more militaristic, as remains of hearths and a blackmith’s forge show evidence of lead melting and casting, and the castle was fitted with gun loops

After the wars of the 1680s, the castle was granted to the Wellesley family who held it until Arthur Wellesley (the First Duke of Wellington), sold it to the Leslies. In following years it passed via the Encumbered Estates Court into the hands of the Dunsany Plunketts. They left the lands open and from time to time allowed various uses, with part of the Castle Field rented by the Town Council as a municipal dump for some years.. The Dunsanys held the Castle until 1993, when after years of discussion, Lord Dunsany sold the land and buildings to the Irish State, retaining only river access and fishing rights.

The Office of Public Works began a major programme of conservation and exploratory works, costing over six million euro, including partial restoration of the moat and the installation of a protective roof. The castle was re-opened to the public in 2000.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Architecture

The central three-story building, called a keep, donjon or great tower, is unique in its design, being of cruciform shape, with twenty corners. It was built in at least three stages, initially by Hugh de Lacy (c.1174) and then in 1196 and 1206 by Walter de Lacy. The keep was built on the site of a large ring work fortification that was burnt down in 1172 and rebuilt in 1173, following attacks by the Gaelic King of Connacht, Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair Rory O'Connor.

Throughout the 12th and 13th centuries, the keep functioned as a donjon housing the lord and his own household while also serving as a hall. The “Great Hall” to the north of the keep was not built for at least a hundred years after the keep, and it may have been that the only part of the keep that would have been suitable for public accommodation was in a chamber on the third floor Thus, the keep was constructed with corresponding stairwells and passageways which granted access to either the public realm or the private, domestic spaces. Public and private were thus kept separate. Later, once the Great Hall was constructed, the lord’s housing was moved out of the keep to a separate tower within the hall

The surviving curtain walls are predominantly of three phases. The west and north sides of the enciente are defended by rectangular towers (including the Trim Gate) dating to the 1170s. The Dublin gate was erected in the 1190s and the remaining wall at the south wih its round towers dates to the first decade of the 13th century.

There were two main gates into the castle. The one at the west side dates to the 1170s and sits on top of a demolished wooden gateway. The upper stories of the stone tower were altered to a semi octagonal shape c. 1200AD. A single round towered gate with an external barbican tower lies in the south wall and is known as the Dublin Gate. It dates from the 1190s.

Apart from the keep the main structures surviving in the castle consist of the following:

  • an early 14th century three towered fore work defending the keep entrance and including stables within it and which was accessed by a stone causeway crossing the partly in filled ditch of the earlier ringwork;
  • a huge early fourteenth century three aisled great hall with an under croft beneath its east end opening via a water gate to the river; a stout defensive tower turned into a solar in the early fourteenth century at the northern angle of the castle;
  • a smaller aisled hall added to the east end of the great hall in the fourteenth or fifteenth century; a building (possibly the mint) added to the east end of the latter hall;
  • two fifteenth or sixteenth century stone buildings added inside the town gatehouse, 17th century buildings added to the end of the hall range
  • to the north side of the keep and a series of lime kilns, one dating from the late 12th century the remainder from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

Film Location For:


Braveheart (1995)    Mel Gibson's dire unhistorical version of Scottish history

 

 

 

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