Monday, July 8, 2013
Roscommon Castle, County Roscommon
Roscommon Castle encloses an area of about 45m by 50m and originally would have had a large gateway in the middle of the eastern wall flanked by two large D shaped towers, similar to the entrance to Castleroache in County Louth. The large stone walls also had projecting D shaped towers at each of the four corners, and another smaller gateway led to the west. It is through this gateway that you enter the site today, and as you pass through it you can still see defensive features like murder holes (openings in the ceiling through which the defenders would have poured boiling fat or oil, or threw down large rocks or quicklime to maim and blind the attackers). The castle would have also been surrounded by a moat and possibly by a timber palisade fence giving a strong outer defence.
Like the castle at nearby Rindoon, Roscommon Castle also found itself repeatedly under attack and siege by the O’Conors and their Gaelic allies. It appears that the O’Conors succeeded in taking the castle by around 1340 and they held it for nearly two hundred years. In 1569 the castle was captured by the Tudor Lord Deputy of Ireland, Sir Henry Sidney. The castle was granted to Sir Nicholas Malby, who spent a vast sum in modernizing and remodelling parts of the castle to make it more of a fashionable Renaissance dwelling rather than a bleak medieval fortress. However Malby also made sure that the defensive features of the castle were well maintained and that was put to the test during the Nine Years War when the castle found itself under siege by Hugh O’Donnell in 1596 and 1599. The castle saw action during the Confederate Wars of the 1640‘s, until Oliver Cromwell’s forces seized Roscommon Castle in 1652 and destroyed the fortifications. A fire in 1690 did massive amounts of damage to the castle and it was left to fall into disrepair through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
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