Maynooth Castle in 5 simple points

Yesterday I had an interview to be a Tour Guide in Maynooth Castle. The fact that it’s a stone’s throw away from where I live would make it a handy job. I’ve decided to give you 5 points about the castle so after you read this, you’ll be able to recite to yourself or a friend exactly what is that monstrous stone structure in our town. Here goes…

1. Anglo-Normans

The Anglo-Normans first arrived in Ireland in 1169. It was they who brought over the idea of the castle. Maurice Fitzgerald was granted land here in 1176. Maynooth Castle was built where two streams meet. It was probably a Motte and Bailey wooden structure first, going on to be built of stone by Gerald FitzGerald, Maurice’s son.

2. Kildare’s

The Kildare FitzGerald’s were one of the most powerful families in Ireland, becoming ‘Lord Deputys’ of Ireland (essentially holding and running Ireland on behalf of England). So powerful were they that during the Hundred Years war, though they sided with the Yorkists, and lost to the Lancasters, they still retained their power when a Lancaster King sat on the throne.

3. Names

So many names are associated with the castle. The names you need to know are Garret Mór, father of Garret Óg who in turn was father of Thomas FitzGerald also known as Silken Thomas. These are big names and it was during the time of the two Garret’s at the turn of the 16th Century that Maynooth was at its power. A college was found at Maynooth during their time.

4. Silken Thomas

Garret Óg summoned to England and because of political struggles, was dismissed as Deputy, replaced by Sir William Skeffington. Silken Thomas heard he was executed and rebelled against England. Skeffington arrived and burned Maynooth town. A story is told that a man Christopher Paris betrayed the castle and opened the door for the English troops. He apparently negotiated for money but not for his life and was soon executed along with Silken Thomas and 5 Uncles. The castle was given over to future Lord Deputies but eventually restored to Kildare’s.

5. Richard Boyle

Richard Boyle Earl of Cork in 1629 bought the wardship to take care of the young FitzGerald and lived in the castle. He extensively remodeled the castle, extended wings, carved arms into the stonework etc. Wars such as the Ulster rising and the English Civil war broke out after the restoration however and many groups ransacked the castle. Furniture was taken and the library was destroyed. By 1682, the castle had already become a ruin…

 

Sources: Guide to National and Historical Monuments of Ireland by Peter Harbison

Maynooth (Ma Nuad) by Mary Cullen

Cannonballs and Croziers: A History of Maynooth edited by John Drennan

Know your local History revealed

A while ago I asked the following question

This picture is found at Maynooth, just above the entrance as you walk in (Must get a better picture without the giant red van in the way) .

It is the Geraldine coat of arms. Look closely and you’ll see that there’s a monkey on the coat of arms! There are two stories about how this all came to be.  One was that when John Fitzthomas was a child, there was a fire in the castle.  He went missing and when the servants returned to his fire-stricken room, he was not to be found. They then heard a noise and saw an ape, usually bound in chains holding him. In thankfulness, they put the monkey as a symbol on their coat of arms and adopted the motto ‘Non immemor beneficii‘ ( not forgetful of favours).

The second story is more fantastical than the previous. Thomas Fitzmaurice (different character) was grabbed by an ape when he was left alone and hauled up to the top of a nearby abbey where he was paraded around by the ape until the ape was eventually coaxed away from the dangerous heights. Thomas was then nicknamed the ape.

I really can’t tell you my sources apart from a secondary history book (like this blog, it could be pure opinion for all I know!). The fact remains that there still is evidence from the picture itself so there must have been SOME reason why there’s a monkey on a crest…Any ideas?

Sources:

Cannonballs and Croziers: A History of Maynooth by John Drennan