In 1181 John Comyn succeeded Laurence O’Toole as the 1st Anglo-Norman Archbishop of Dublin and it appears that he chose Swords as his chief residence. This castle was built as his manorial residence and was never strong in the military sense but was unusual in that the 305 m perimeter was much much larger than the normal Irish castle. The walls enclose an area of nearly 1.5 acres which includes a tower and an impressive gateway complex (as seen in the photo). Within the castle were the Archbishop’s apartments, apartments for knights and a banqueting hall. The adjoining chapel (also see in the photo) was built in the late 13th century and was probably used as the Archbishop’s private oratory. It was used by a number of the Archbishops in the following years up to the time of the Bruce campaign in Ireland in 1317, which was known to have devastated many of the buildings in the country from the gates of Dublin to Dundalk. There is no direct evidence that Swords Castle was attacked by the Bruce’s forces but the probability was that the Archbishop would have had to removed himself to another safer residence in Tallaght. Over the following years it was inhabited by retired Archbishops, constables and even Dutch weavers. In 1900 it was even used as an orchard by a local shop keeper, Robert Savage. The Office of Public Works have been restoring the castle for 15 years now and when complete it is intended to become a tourist attraction. It also used as a film location for ‘The Tudors’ in spring 2010.

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