Maynooth Castle: The History Part 2

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


3 comments on “Maynooth Castle: The History Part 2

  1. daithi82 says:

    When you look at any historic building it is amazing some of the larger than life people who lived there. Serves the captain of the guard right for not being more careful in his bargaining.

  2. Hey David. Yeah there were very interesting people in the castle. It’s always good to be reminded that real people lived in these places.

    The captain of the guard was Silken Thomas’ half-brother actually!Funnily enough as well, Silken Thomas rebelled with the support of many allies, including his five uncles. However, half-way through the war, twp of the uncles defected to the English. When the rebellion was stopped, all five uncles were executed with Silken Thomas!

  3. […] read Maynooth Castle: The History Part 1 and Part 2 before […]

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