This national monument is The Rock of Dunamase. It is one of Ireland’s most impressive historical sites as it sits on a limestone outcrop (known as a hum) 150 feet above the flat surrounding plains. This was therefore a perfect vantage and defensive point for controlling the surrounding area. There is evidence of a fort here since the 9th century but the Greek cartographer Ptolemy mentioned a fort here in the 2nd century a.d. however no archaeological evidence supports this theory. It was also mentioned in The Annals of the Four Masters (one of Ireland’s earliest texts) and states that Dun Masc was plundered by the Vikings in 843 a.d. Dunamase became one of the most important Anglo-Norman fortification in Laois and was was part of the dowry of Aoife, the daughter of Diarmuid Mac Murrough when she married Strongbow in 1170. It then passed to William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke followed by Roger Mortimer and then to the O’Moores (the most powerful family in Laois ) who ruled here for 200 years. Local tradition  says that the castle was besieged and blown up by Cromwellian generals in 1651 (although no records remain) which may explain it’s ruinous state. In 1795, Sir John Parnell, chancellor of the Irish Parliament, tried to develop a residence and banqueting hall by adding late medieval features such as windows and doors from other ruins however when he died, his son allowed the buildings to fall into decay.

Curious Ireland images make interesting wall art, meaningful wedding presents or simply a thoughtful gift for someone who is living far away.……If you prefer COLOUR CLICK HERE or B&W CLICK HERE. (beautifully printed & packaged by the Irish Photo Archive)

If you are planning to explore this area CLICK HERE for the best available deals for nearby hotels, hostels, B&B’s and castles.