Castle Roche, Dundalk. County Louth           1236

Castle Roche is one of the most striking Anglo-Norman castles in Ireland. It was built in 1236 by the De Verdun family and the steep rocky outcrop along with its strong walls made it virtually impregnable. This strategic location controlled the pass between the frontier what was then the exclusively Gaelic province of Ulster and the Anglo-Norman territory around ‘The Pale’. De Verdun arrived as part of King John’s first expedition to Ireland in 1185 and his granddaughter Rohesia married Theobald Le Botiller, 2nd Chief Butler of Ireland. After the sudden death of Rohesia’s husband in France, she moved to Ireland and immediately set about fortifying her lands with a castle. She however had a reputation for a quick temper which deterred all potential architects. She then offered her hand in marriage (and thereby a share in her wealth) to the man who would build a castle to her liking. According to the local legend, after her wedding banquet in the newly completed castle, she invited her husband to the bridal suite and urged him to view their estate from the large bedroom window. Taking no chances with the castle’s secrets, she promptly pushed her new husband from the window, where he plummeted towards his death! This window was known thereafter as the Murder Window. In 1561 a hosting of all the English forces in Ireland took place here but by 1641 the castle laid in ruins after the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. A secret passage once connected the castle to a round tower outpost.