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Castletown Weird Thing
 

County

Louth

Coordinates

N 54° 00' 49.74"   W 006° 25' 49.44"

Nearest town

Dundalk

Grid Ref.

J 02871 08319

Map No.

36

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

65

Date of visit

Saturday 25 June 2016

GPS Accuracy (m)

3
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The footpath on the side of the motte up to the folly.


Just outside Dundalk, to the northeast, there's a place that is usually overlooked or even unknown to many, though it has been the base for many events in ancient Ireland.
It is thought that Cú Chulainn was born here, and it was from here that he engaged the Táin Bó Cúailgne. For this reason the place is also known as Cú Chulainn Castle.
Essentially the place is a motte-and-bailey, probably built by Bertram III de Verdun in the mid-12th century. The site was also one of the stronghold of Hugh de Lacy, but he left it behind when King John pursued him. It was also the site of the Battle of Faughart in which Edward Bruce was killed.
The structure that we see today is a folly on the top of the motte and it's all that remains of a house built in Gothic style in 1780 by Patrick Byrne. He was a businessman in the salt industry, his factory was based near the port of the town. He was also known with the nickname of Pirate for his alleged smuggling. The house was built as a demonstration of his wealth, and donated to his grand nephew Patrick, son of Henry Byrne of Seatown. The house had a short life because it was badly damaged during the 1798 Rebellion, and today only the outline of its perimeter and the tower survive. The tower's doorway faces west-northwest (290°) and has a gate that is locked, but it's possible to look up into it and see that all floors are missing. Above the doorway there's a plaque with the dedication of this tower to Patrick.
The top of the hill is reached via a footpath along the side of the motte and starting from a hidden passage in a wall under some large trees.


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