The Black Castle

After the norman invasion in 1169 Henry II granted lands on the east coast of Ireland to Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, AKA Strongbow. In 1176, de Clare granted the land to Baron Maurice FitzGerald on the condition be build a number of castles along the coast. The Baron died later that same year, so it's possible the fortification was completed by his family. It is believed the castle was fraudulently taken from his sons by the then Chief Governor, FitzAudelin.

The castle has a chequered history, often changing hands and under constant attack from the local Irish Chieftains, mainly the O'Tooles and the O'Byrnes. The castle was burned by the O'Byrnes in 1295, 1301 and also in 1315, when the tenants were the Lawless family.

It was attacked by the O'Tooles in 1641 and again by the Irish in 1645 when everything was burned except the stables. The building was completely demolished in 1646. At some stage part of it must have been rebuilt and used a a garrison, but by the end of that century the garrison had moved elsewhere, and the roof and wooden planks of the lofts had been sold to the Wicklow town inhabitants.

There is evidence to suggest the castle was built on the site of an earlier promontory fort. The remains of the triangular keep can be accessed by crossing a deep fosse and a flight of steps cut into the rock, see image below. At the southwest of the keep are the remnants of a corner tower.

Situated: From the Main Street in Wicklow turn east down Castle Street. There are ample parking spaces near the site. Please be careful if you bring children, steep cliffs.

Discovery Map 56: T 3224 9406. Last Visited Apr 2017.

Longitude: 6° 1' 51" W

Latitude: 52° 58' 52" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey

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