OS: M 950 042 (map 53)
GPS: M 95068 04237 (Accuracy – 2m)
Longitude: 8° 4' 25.03" W
Latitude: 53° 5' 19.47" N
Description and History – This National Monument is in flat land near the wonderful village of Lorrha. It is a four-storey tower-house that measures 10.3m x 11.45m and is situated within a large bawn. The bawn is impressive and retains a gateway and paving leading to the castle. There is also evidence for lean-to structures against the interior of the bawn as well as corner towers. The original entrance to the tower house is located on the southern side, but there is now a northern entrance as well. Internally there are murder holes and there would have been a machicolation externally which is now destroyed as well as a bartizan. Inside a mural staircase leads to the upper floors and higher up there is a spiral stair.
The first floor would have originally been wooden supported on still visible corbels. The second floor is supported by a fine barrel vault. These rooms were likely to be a series of chambers used as private spaces. A fine fireplace survives. A separate hall may have been located elsewhere within the bawn.
The roof is now missing but the wall-walk can still be accessed. The gable ends are stepped, and crenellations still survive. There is an unusual space located on the upper floor at the end of a mural passage which drops suddenly into a small room below. It is possible that this was a secret room for the storage of valuables or possibly a place to hide. Could it even be an oubliette?
The castle bears all the hallmarks of a 16th century construction date, although it is often erroneously stated that it is 12th century in date. Nothing about this castle suggests a 12th century date.
It was built by the O’Kennedy clan, who in turn originate from the O’Briens and the Dal Cais. It belonged to Brian Ua Cinneida Fionn, Chieftain of Ormonde who died in 1588. In 1640 Donagh Kennedy is listed as proprietor. By the Civil Survey of 1654-6 it is described as a ruin which indicates that its life as a functioning castle was relatively short.
In 1735, during rebuilding works, the 8th/9th century Stowe Missal (a mass book) was found here hidden in a wall. It is now housed in the Royal Irish Academy.
There is a significant amount of folklore connected to the site. It is said that it is now the home to a pooka, a fairy shape-shifter from Irish mythology. The legend goes that some old hags were stealing from a dead body when an O’Kennedy came upon them. They were defended by the pooka which was captured by O’Kennedy. It was taken to Lackeen castle where O’Kennedy’s servants begged their master to let it go or else they would be cursed. After promising to never hurt any member of the O’Kennedy family, the pooka was released. There is a local tradition which states that the pooka can still be seen roaming around the castle to this day. I have read several different versions of this story, and it can be found in many books of folklore.
We saw no pooka upon our visit…
Difficulty – It’s a little tricky to find so I’d recommend using a GPS or a map. I would also advise caution when visiting this castle. There are doorways to the now missing floor and it would be very easy to fall through. Also, the wall-walk level is freely accessible and there are no barriers to stop people falling off. I would advise against bringing children to this site.
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Looking up at the remains of the bartizan.
The end of the garderobe chute.
There are some finely carved windows here.
The entrance to the bawn.
Sections of the bawn wall.
Portions have completely collapsed.
Looking up at the barrel vault.
One of the many fireplaces.
Looking up the mural staircase. Note the well preserved plaster.
Looking to the possible oubliette.
Mind your step.
Looking down from the wall walk.
You really have to be careful up here.
The stepped gable end.
A murder hole near the top.
Descending once again.