The Rock of Dunamase is located in Dunamase in co.Laois. This is an ancient site and one of Ireland’s most impressive locations for a castle as it sits on a limestone outcrop 150 feet above the surrounding plain. There is evidence of a 9th century fort here and the Greek cartographer Ptolemy also mentions a fort in the area in the 2nd century a.d.(however no archaeological evidence supports this theory). It is also mentioned in The Annals of the Four Masters and states that Dun Masc was plundered by the Vikings in 843 a.d. The Norman castle was built around c.1170 and became 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.