Maynooth Castle: The History Part 1

Earlier I commented on Maynooth castle and its cool building. Here I’ll focus on the history of the castle, which if we’re honest (and if it’s actually well told), is more interesting. Stories of real people versus ruins ALWAYS win. I think. I’ve divided the history of the castle into three parts.

The history of the castle begins in the 12th Century with the coming of the Anglo-Normans to Ireland in 1169. Richard de Clare (Strongbow) was a Welsh lord: Earl of Pembroke to be precise, and he was convinced by Diarmuid MacMurrogh, the King of Leinster to come to Ireland and help him win back his Kingdom. Diarmuid had already been granted English King Henry the Second’s permission to recruit within his Kingdom. With that, the Normans invaded, and landed from 1169 onwards, quickly subduing much of the population of Ireland. You’ve heard the names Hugh de Lacy, Raymond le Gros? Famous Anglo-Norman Lords who carved out their own personal Kingdoms in Ireland for themselves. Maurice Fitzgerald did just the same thing. He was an Anglo-Norman Lord of 70 years who came over in the following summer of the invasion. He landed with about 160 men of knights and archers and helped the Anglo-Norman’s win land in Ireland. He was granted the territory of Uí Faelaoin or the Barony of Naas – what is essentially modern day County Kildare in 1176. Here he built Maynooth castle. He probably built a wooden castle here, the motte and bailey, and then his son or his grandson built the stone castle we see today- we think in the 1180’s or 1190’s. Maurice came over here when he was about 70 years old and came along with his entire family! Epic.

From then on the Fitzgeralds slowly built up their power base in Maynooth. There isn’t much to say about the next few Barons until the 4th Baron, John FitzThomas, who did such good work in leading the Anglo-Normans to victory against the Bruce Invasion led by Edward the Bruce that King Edward the Second of England raised him to Earl status and he was the first Earl of Kildare in 1316. John the 6th Earl of Kildare strengthened and fortified Maynooth Castle amongst others in the early 15th Century. Remember that the Earls of Kildare controlled much of County Kildare and during the height of their power, had castles in Lea, Kilkea and Athy amongst other places. During much of the period after that, the English were involved in the Hundred Years War with France, not to mention the War of the Roses. England during this time was happy to leave the governing of Ireland to the powerful Anglo-Norman lords who could maintain relationships with the Gaelic Lords as well as with other Anglo-Norman Lords. So Thomas Fitzgerald,  7th Earl of Kildare, was made Lord Deputy (the King’s representative in Ireland) by the English government in 1471, increasing the power of the Kildares immensely. This role recognised the Fitzgeralds’ power and position in Ireland. Thomas’ son was Garret Mór, also known as the Great Earl. Under him, the Kildare ascendancy began, where the Kildare family were at the height of their power…

References: Ma Nuad by Mary Cullen

Maynooth Castle, OPW Visitor’s Guide


Competition Time!

Maynootharchaeology invites you to enter it’s competition!

Maynootharchaeology is looking for a logo and entries are welcome! Simply draw either by computer or by hand a logo which you think befits Maynootharchaeology. Write a small piece on why you created this logo, describing each part you think is important.

Below you’ll find some past pictures on Maynootharchaeology you may find helpful. I’ve also included some ideas to begin your design process…

  • Use of symbols?
  • Perhaps a picture?
  • Colours
  • Think history!
  • People and places
  • Maynooth’s own past
  • Blog and past content of Maynootharchaeology
  • Think outside the box

Competition closes on 20th December, so you have a month to think and implement your creations. Entries can be submitted to, where postal information is also available on request. The winner will have the rights to their logo and see it emblazoned across this international (I logged on in France once) blog! The winner will also receive a copy of ‘Cannonballs and Croziers’, a local history book of Maynooth, as well as a gift voucher. So what are you waiting for? Get designing!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Know your Local History 5? Revealed

So earlier I posed a question. There were some good answers and both guessed correctly the location of Carton House. Andy perhaps guessed Connolly’s Folly? Not correct I’m afraid. Good guess Patrick, and spot on with location (I did cycle through some greens and fairways)! However, history books inform me that the tower is known as ‘The Prospect Tower. Not much is know about it, all I can find about is is that:

1. It was built by the Talbot family who leased the estate from the Fitzgeralds

2. Not much is known about it!

Though I may be mistaken? Can you offer insight into your ideas of it being names Tyrconnell Tower, and a famine relief project?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sources: Ma Nuad by Mary Cullen

Exploring Maynooth: Five Self-Guide Historical Walks by Maynooth Local History

Connolly’s Folly 2

It’s the first time I’ve posted about something twice. Instead of updating my earlier post on Connolly’s Folly, I just had to create a new post simply to show you a recent photo taken by Notice the difference between my pictures and his: the Folly has been restored to near completion within a perfect forget me not blue; whereas mine had scaffolding surrounding the Folly in front of a dull grey sky. This 360 shot inspired me to point people back to the amazing monument that surrounds us here in Maynooth which tells us a lot about past people and past ways of thinking. If people are ever interested in going there, I’ll happily take you/tag along!


Photo courtesy of