The history of Dublin Castle is peppered with colourful anecdotes and intriguing historical episodes – be sure to ask your guide to recount some of them for you!
Dublin Castle is not quite what the name might lead you to expect. Though it does boast an impressive 800-year history, having been commissioned and built by King John of England in the early 13th Century, only the Record Tower now remains of the original stone structure, and it now feels more akin to an 18th Century stately home than a mighty medieval fortress.
England’s stronghold in Ireland
Nevertheless, the castle is certainly worth a visit, if only because its history is in many respects the history of Dublin itself. Its succession of significant historical episodes peaked a century ago during the fierce struggle for Irish independence, which was eventually secured, together with the keys to the castle, in 1922. You can walk through the room where James Connolly, the leader of the 1916 Easter Rising, was kept prisoner tied to a chair prior to his highly provocative execution. During the Anglo-Irish war for independence a few years later, three key IRA members were tortured and killed within the walls of the castle on the evening of that conflict’s “bloody Sunday”.
Visiting the castle today is thankfully not so harrowing. Its spacious grounds are perfect for a stroll on a sunny day, and there is a café to one side for those who want to rest their weary legs. Taking a tour will allow you to see St. Patrick’s Hall, where new Irish presidents are inaugurated. The highlight of your visit should be a trip down to the undercroft of the castle. Accidentally discovered in 1986, it is possible to see an ancient Viking foundation, as well as the remaining dribble of the River Poddle, which once supplied the moat.
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