Athlumney Castle




N 53° 39' 00.6"   W 006° 40' 29.76"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

N 87602 67525

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Saturday 25 May 2019

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The ruins of the castle seen from the west.

Southeast from the centre of Navan there's the manorial village of Athlumney. This manor was originally part of a barony granted from Hugh de Lacy to his ally Adam de Feipo.
This neighbourhood of the town include some interesting sites like a castle, a motte and a church.

The castle was built in three phases.
The first section to be built was the four-storey tower house built in the 15th century. This tower house has four projecting corner towers, and an access on the northwest (310°) side of the building. Inside this tower house a spiral staircase leads to the upper floors.
The first floor is the hall, the largest room of the tower house. At this level, in the southwest wall of the hall, there's a small doorway with a descending flight of 11 steps to a small concealed chamber with a murder-hole over the main entrance.
The other floors of the tower house are missing, though the spiral staircase allows to reach the parapet level.
The second phase of the building was the addition of a long vaulted room on the northwest side of the tower house. The aim of this addition was to provide more comfortable accommodation. Nothing remains of this building.
The third and last phase of the castle was the addition, in the 17th century, of a mansion with a gabled roof to the southwest of the complex. This is the largest section of the castle, and has several wide mullioned windows in the southeast wall, and at least 4 fireplaces in the northwest wall. There are two ovens in the southwest wall at the ground floor.
Another nice feature of this section of the castle is the oriel window on the first floor in the southwest wall, though it hasn't the beauty of the oriel window at the Grannagh Castle.

The castle was destroyed by a fire some time between 1650 and 1690.
According to some sources, one of the Maguire family set the castle to fire when he learned that the Cromwell's army was approaching. He'd rather destroy the building than letting Cromwell capture it.
The other version is that Sir Launcelot Dowdall, the last Lord of Athlumney, who had supported King James 2nd in the war against William of Orange, set the castle to fire when he learned that William had won at the Battle of the Boyne (July 1st, 1690), so that he couldn't use it.

We would have liked to visit the castle on the same day we had visited the church and the motte.
But when I rang at the house that holds the key, they told me that the previous visitor hadn't returned the key on that afternoon and preferred to go to dinner first, so we had to call back the next morning.
Well, I'd like to say to this amazingly stupid visitor that they should be more respectful of others, there could be other people who want to see the same thing.
Hopefully their dinner was awful!

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