St WerburghCounty Dublin

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View of Lower Castle Yard, Dublin Castle (1816 Havell & Sons after T.S Roberts) © OPW.
View of Lower Castle Yard, Dublin Castle (1816 Havell & Sons after T.S Roberts) © OPW.

Caisleán Bhaile Átha Cliath aka Dublin Castle was founded in 1204 by order of King John for the administration of the city. This mandate required first the building of a tower, to which a castle and bailey could be added. Originally built to protect the Royal treasure it became the administrative center of English rule in Ireland up until 1922. 


It was constructed on the site of an earlier earthwork castle on the end of a high ridge which was bounded on its S and E sides by the River Poddle (now underground) to the east of the city. ​

  • It was enclosed by an impressive moat formed by the Poddle on the S and E side and a fosse in the W and N sides of the castle.
  • A barbican gate and drawbridge gave access directly from the Medieval town, and was entered through a double-bastion gatehouse situated midway along the N wall.
  • A chapel had been added by 1224.

Many attempts were made to capture the castle. In 1534, it was subjected to an all-out siege by Thomas Fitzgerald or Silken Thomas who had renounced his allegiance to the King at the Council of State gathering at St Mary’s Abbey. Fitzgerald was later captured and executed in London.

  • The original medieval castle was quadrangular in plan with mural towers at the angles joined by a curtain wall
  • The corner towers are identified as the Record tower in the SE; Bermingham tower in the SW, Cork Tower in the NW and the Powder Tower in the NE. There was a projecting middle tower on the south wall, which was replaced, in the Eighteenth century by the present polygonal tower.

By the beginning of the 17th century, the castle was fully developed with Law Courts, meetings of Parliament, a council chamber and the residence of the viceroy. As the city developed the castle more vulnerable as more and more buildings were constructed nearby. 

In 1684, when a fire broke out in the Viceregal quarters, linking buildings were blown up to prevent the fire reaching the Powder Tower. Thus, the castle’s form as a medieval fortress was over.

New designs by the Surveyor General Sir William Robinson were constructed by October 1688 (see also the Royal Hospital Kilmainham which he also designed).


Dublin Castle official website Ireland VIEW SOURCE

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