900 years of history, Thin Lizzy & Dana

This is the beautiful gatehouse for Clontarf Castle which along with the castle were totally remodeled in the 1830s. The original castle was built by the Norman, Hugh de Lacy, in 1172 near the site of the famous battle of Clontarf of 1014 involving Brian Boru. It later became home to the Knights Templar (famous for fighting in the Crusades) and then passed onto the Knights Hospitaller in 1308. In 1600 the estate was granted to the secretary of state for Ireland; Sir Geoffrey Fenton by Queen Elizabeth I. After Cromwell’s invasion, John Vernon, a Quartermaster General of Cromwell’s army inherited the castle and his family lived here for over 300 years. In 1933 the castle was sold by the last remaining member of the Vernon family to the Oultons who was sold it again in 1952 to pay death duties. In 1972 the castle was run as a cabaret venue for 25 years until it reopened in 1991 as a four-star hotel. Many famous people especially musicians have stayed in the castle including Handel who in 1742 as a guest of Dorothy Vernon and for whom he wrote ‘Forest Music’. In 1971 the castle was also the subject of a song by Thin Lizzy entitled ‘The Friendly Ranger at Clontarf Castle’ and Dermot O’Brien; a famous accordionist, used the castle for live recordings. The castle was also the subject of a painting by Turner, although wrongly labeled Caltarf Castle. The most important event in its 900-year history was when Dana was crowned Queen of Cabaret at the Castle in 1968 before winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1970!