Updated:
16-dec-2009



I visited this castle in 2008.

Dundrum Castle lies in the town of Dundrum, in County Down, in Northern Ireland.

Dundrum Castle is a Norman castle, founded in 1177 by John de Courcy, following his invasion of Ulster. The castle, built to control access into the Lecale barony from the west and south, stands on the top of a rocky hill commanding fine views south over Dundrum Bay to the sea and the surrounding countryside.

The first castle here would probably have had defences of earth and timber, but it is probable that the stone polygonal curtain wall of the upper ward was built as early as the 1180's. It is surrounded by a substantial rock-cut ditch.

In 1204 Dundrum Castle was taken by Hugh de Lacy, only to be besieged by its founder John de Courcy in 1205. De Courcy didn't succeed and was expelled from Ulster.

In 1210 the castle was taken by King John who strengthened the castle with the massive round keep. In 1260 a gatehouse was added, composed of 2 square towers on the south east side of the enclosure.

Dundrum Castle seems to have been in a poor state in the 1330's, when it was taken over by the Magennis family. They added a second circuit of walls to form an outer bailey just below the original castle.

During the 16th and 17th centuries ownership of the castle changed several times. In 1517 the castle was captured by the Earl of Kildare and in 1538 by Lord Deputy Gray. In 1601 the castle was surrendered to Lord Mountjoy. It was made over to Lord Cromwell in 1605 and sold to Sir Francis Blundell in 1636. The Magennis family recaptured Dundrum in 1642, but later lost it to the Parliamentarians, who dismantled the castle in 1652 after they withdrew their garrison.

After 1660 the Blundells returned and built a gabled L-shaped mansion in the south-west corner of the outer bailey. This house was ruined by the time the property passed to the second Marquess of Downshire in the early 19th century.

In 1954 Dundrum Castle was placed in State Care and can now be visited for a small fee during opening hours.

This is a large and beautiful castle ruin with great views. One to visit in my opinion and the much smaller Clough Castle is only a few kilometers to the north.

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