Dundrum Castle, Dundrum, County Down

Dundrum Castle is located in a spectacular setting overlooking Dundrum Bay and the mighty Mourne Mountains. This ancient hilltop site was chosen by John de Courcy sometime around 1172 following his invasion of Ulster. De Courcy was a ‘renegade’ Norman knight who travelled to the north of Ireland after Strongbow’s invasion of Ireland in 1169. He managed to carve himself his own personal Kingdom for 30 years until he was eventually expelled by Hugh de Lacy in 1203. Hugh de Lacy strengthened the castle with a massive 3 floored round keep. It remained in Crown control for many centuries but was later taken and bought by numerous powerful families over its turbulent history. These families include The Magennis family of Mourne, The Earls of Kildare, Lord Deputy Grey, Lord Mountjoy, Lord Cromwell, Francis Blundell, The Magennis family (again), The Parliamentarians (who tried to dismantle the castle in 1652), The Blundells (again!) and eventually to the Marquess of Downshire. It is now a State Care Historical Monument and ‘Time Team’ made one of their most interesting programmes on this interesting site.