An Arch-Bishop’s private getaway, An orchard & The Tudors

Swords Castle is located in the town of Swords in north county Dublin and dates from 1190 a.d. In 1181 John Comyn succeeded Laurence O’Toole as the 1st Anglo-Norman Archbishop of Dublin and it appears this location as his chief residence. This castle was built as his manorial residence and was never strong in the military sense but was unusual as it’s 305m perimeter wall was much much larger than the normal Irish castle. The walls enclose an area of nearly 1.5 acres and included a tower, a gateway, the Archbishop’s apartments, apartments for knights, and a banqueting hall. The adjoining chapel 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. There is no direct evidence that Swords Castle was attacked by Bruce’s forces but the probability was that the Archbishop would have had to remove himself to another safer residence in Tallaght (how times have changed!). 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 has 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.