Maynooth Castle

Map Reference: N935376 (2935, 2376)

The castle was probably begun by Gerald FitzGerald, Baron of Offaly, in 1203. It was enlarged by John, 6th Earl of Kildare, in 1426. In 1535, during the rebellion of its owner, Silken Thomas, the castle was captured by the Lord deputy, William Skeffington. Gerald, 11th Earl of Kildare, regained the castle and estates in 1552. The building was restored in 1630 by the Earl of Cork and occupied by the Confederate Catholics in 1641. It was abandoned by the FitzGeralds about 1656.

The castle is entered through a magnificent square gatehouse to the S. To the E of this is a square tower forming part of the boundary wall and to the N and W is a huge rectangular keep. There are fragments of the curtain wall in the E. The keep is entered by a modern stairway at first floor level. This leads to a large vaulted room beyond which is a similar room. Directly opposite the doorway a spiral stairway rises to above the vault. Here there were possibly two large rooms but the dividing wall is fragmentary.

There is at least one more storey above this. The upper storey is lit by large two-light windows. They are set within deep recesses and there are good window seats. There may be several mural chambers. The keeps originally had four corner turrets of which fragments remain. There are no visible fireplaces. The tower at the SE corner has three storeys plus attic.

A spiral stairway in the NW rises to roof level. A murder-hole protects the doorway inthe N wall. There are mural chambers in the two storeys above this. There is another doorway in the S wall. An exit low down in the E wall may be for a latrine chute leading from one of the mural chambers.

The interior of the keep

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