Thanks to my friend who showed this to me.
Maynooth has the oldest tree in Ireland!
Check it out here.
So the competition is now closed, just so you know. Thanks for the hundreds of entries. Winner will be announced shortly…
The Kildare Title, estates and castles were restored to Gerald Fitzgerald, the 11th Earl of Kildare in 1552. He has escaped to Florence with the help of the Geraldine League some years previously. He only came back when Mary Queen of Scots was on the throne, though they lacked the power they once had. He was also known as the ‘Wizard Earl’, probably due to his interest in alchemy and astronomy. His death was supposedly due to magical reasons. His wife asked him to show his magical powers. He did so, and turned himself into a blackbird. At that moment, the devil appeared in the form of a black cat, and the Earl disappeared in a puff of smoke, never to be seen again. It is said the ghost of the earl haunts Kilkea castle, another Fitzgerald castle in south Kildare.
In 1620, George became the 16th Earl of Kildare at the ripe age of 8 years old. In 1629, Richard Boyle, the Earl of Cork, bought the wardship of the young Earl for £6,000. This essentially meant that Boyle controlled the castle until the Earl was of age to do so himself. He married his daughter to George, guaranteeing his link with the castle. He spent thousands of pounds remodelling the castle, building his house into the inner curtain wall, as well as building a round tower on the grounds, and decorative arches still seen today. Only seven years after completing all the works of the castle, internal wars began which effectively ruined the castle. The Old English and Gaelic Irish had an shaky alliance together against the New English coming to settle. The castle was taken twice in 1641 by locals, in 1643 by royalist forces, and in 1646 also. In 1647 Owen Roe O’ Neill’s army took the castle and effectively destroyed it. The Earl may have lived on there until his death in 1656, but by 1682 it was considered a ruin.
In the early 18th Century, the 19th Earl Robert thought about restoring the castle, but instead moved his residence to Carton, east of Maynooth. They changed their title in 1766 when James, Robert’s son, was made Duke of Leinster (actually pronounced ‘Linster’). Stories about the Dukes of Leinster shall be left for another day, but their Country home was Carton, and their town house in Dublin was Leinster House, now where the Dail sits. Now Maynooth Castle is managed by the OPW since 2001. So there you have it: a brief history of Maynooth castle in three parts.
Sources: Ma Nuad by Mary Cullen
OPW Maynooth Castle Visitor’s Guide
Please read Maynooth Castle Part 1 before you continue…
Garret Mór, was the 8th Earl of Kildare, and he ruled from 1487 to 1513 and was known as the Great Earl for a reason. Under him the Kildares were at the height of their power. He was the most powerful Earl in Ireland, winning the Battle of Knockdoe against the Burke’s of Clanrickard in the West, calling upon many allies across Ireland to do so. He survived political attempts to remove him from his office (he was removed but soon restored, showing his political shrewdness and power). He had a great library at Maynooth Castle with books of English, Irish, Latin and French. He also made plans for a college to be founded in Maynooth which was eventually build by his son, Garret Óg in 1518. It was only opened for a few years until it was shut down by Henry the 8th during the Reformation. Garret Mór died in 1513 and his son Garret Óg, the 9th Earl of Kildare was appointed the new Lord Deputy soon afterwards. He added books to the library at the Castle, and acquired a licence to found ‘the College of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1518’. Garret Óg got into trouble many times with King Henry the 8th for the way he governed Ireland, more for himself than for the King. He was called over to answer charges a number of times, before being imprisoned in London.
His son Silken Thomas took control of the Kildare Dynasty whilst his Father was imprisoned. Probably under his Father’s guidance, Silken Thomas (who was known as ‘Silken’ for the fancy clothes he wore/the silk trappings on his horse) rebelled against England. He marched on Dublin with 1,000 men and threw down the sword of state, a symbol of his office. He became the 10th Earl of Kildare when Garret Óg died in prison in 1534. Sir William Skeffington was sent to squash the rebellion with 2,300 men. He landed in Ireland, slowly gaining control of the land surrounding Dublin and eventually besieging Maynooth castle in March 1535 with 1,000 men, against a defence of 100 men. The castle was heavily fortified, and for 6 days cannons could not break down the castle walls. According to Richard Stanihurst (a historian at the time), the castle was taken by treachery. Christopher Paris, the captain of the guard let the English in one night and most of the garrison was killed, including Christopher Paris himself who negotiated for a certain amount of money, but not his life: he was paid and shortly killed after! Silken Thomas, who was not in Maynooth castle when it fell, fled to the Bog of Allen in west Kildare. The fall of the castle truly marked the end of the Kildares and Silken Thomas’ allies deserted him. He was captured later that year and executed a couple of years after that in 1537. The Kildare’s power was destroyed and Maynooth castle was now home to the Lord Deputy’s of Ireland, giving more evidence to the report of the castle being betrayed rather than having been taken by force, which is what the English commander Skeffington claimed.. The Kildare’s would however, make a return in 1552 in the final installment of the History of Maynooth Castle.
References: Má Nuad by Mary Cullen
OPW Visitor’s Guide