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Woodstock Castle
 

County

Kildare

Coordinates

N 52° 59' 48.9"   W 006° 59' 21.9"

Nearest town

Athy

Grid Ref.

S 67903 94464

Map No.

55

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

68

Date of visit

Friday 13 June 2014

GPS Accuracy (m)

3
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The castle seen from the southwest.


A first castle was built here in the early years of the 13th century by Robert de St. Michael, Baron of Rheban, on a land granted to him by Richard FitzGilbert de Clare, grandson of Strongbow.
This first castle was probably built of wood, but it was later replaced by the stone building that we still see today.
The presence of a castle induced the Friars of the Holy Cross to establish a monastery here. A few years later the Dominican Order founded a second monastery on the other side of the River Barrow.
The castle played an important role in the defence of the Anglo-Normans settled in Athy from the attacks of the Irish natives who had been dispossessed and evicted from their lands. During the first century of their existence the castle and the monasteries were attacked at least four times, suffering severe damages every time, but every time they were rebuilt.
Originally the castle had a rectangular plan and in architectural terms this is more referred to as a Hall Keep.
In the 16th century a tower was added at the southeast (130°) corner and other alterations were made, like the insertion of windows in the east, south and west walls. These windows have fine mouldings, but they have been walled up.
At the end of the 17th century the castle fell into disuse.

One of the stories related to this castle is that in the 13th century John FitzGerald, 1st Earl of Kildare, still a baby, was trapped in a fire in the castle and a pet monkey rescued him. The monkey was then adopted by the FitzGerald family as their crest first and later as supporter.
Next to the southeast corner of White's castle there's a niche with the plaque carrying the coat of arms of the Dukes of Leinster and it shows the diagonal cross on a shield supported by a monkey.

Today Woodstock Castle is inside a steel fence. It appears highly neglected and subject to some vandalism. When we visited the place the area around the fence had traces of fire, with litter of every kind burned or piled up all over. A very sad sight!


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