Desmond Hall, Newcastle West
Map Reference: R278337 (1278, 1337)
This castle was established in the late 13th century by the Geraldine Earls of Desmond. It is possible that the first buildings were erected by Thomas Fitzgerald. The main structure on the site is the Desmond Hall. This is a two storey building with a tower attached at the north-west corner.
The hall is vaulted above the ground floor and the main room was on the upper storey. While some of the building may date to the earliest times most of the details belong to the 15th century.
The main room has been decorated in the medieval fashion with oak panelling and oak furniture. The fireplace is a modern structure in the style of the earlier period. At the lower level there is a fireplace of 1638.
The tower is four storeys high and much of the interior is modern reconstruction. Recent restoration of the castle has uncovered some narrow lancet windows in the lower south wall of the hall. This suggests that the building may have been used as a church at one time.
The other main structure on the site is a rectangular building known as the Great Hall. It is another banqueting hall. It is a single storey building with ecclesiastical windows of 13th century style. However it is though to be no older than the 14th century. The design of the windows suggest that it may have been used as a church at one time.
The castle was taken by the English in 1569 but regained by the Desmonds. They held it until the rebellion in 1591 when it was granted to Sir William Courtenay, ancestor of the Earls of Devon. It was occupied briefly by the Desmonds in 1598. It was owned by the Courtenay family during the first half of the 17th century. The Confederate Catholics besieged in from December 1641 until the following Easter Monday, when it surrendered and was burned. The Cromwellians under General Ireton captured it in 1651.
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