HISTORY: This week marks 205 years since the near destruction of Carlow Castle

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Darren Hassett

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Darren Hassett

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Carlow Castle

This week marks 205 years of the near destruction of Carlow Castle. Today just the west wall of the castle remains but 800 years of history tell an incredible story.

Built in the early thirteenth century, the castle has functioned as an administrative center, a military fortification and a residence.

In the medieval period the town of Carlow grew up in its protective shadow. During the middle ages the castle played a central role in the settlement and exploitation of the Barrow valley by the Anglo-Normans.

For a time it housed the Irish exchequer, the most important department in the English administration of Ireland. The castle went on to play a significant role in the Kildare Rebellion, the 1641 Rebellion and the Cromwellian Wars.

Today, two battered towers and part of an intervening wall are all that remain after a local physician tried to remodel it as an asylum in 1814. In an effort to demolish the interior he placed explosive charges at its base and demolished all but the west wall and towers.

You can read more about the history of Carlow Castle at http://www.carlowmuseum.ie/publications/ and download 'Carlow Castle - Medieval Stronghold on the Barrow' by Dr Margaret Murphy for a fascinating deep dive into the history of the castle, and the town.