Dublin Castle

Dublin's 800-year-old seat of government retains some historic sections (and some Viking bits in the basement), but is otherwise the least "castley" of Irish castles

Dublin CastleDublin Castle from the rear gardens (including the Round Tower and Chapel Royal).

The Dublin Castle courtyard
The Dublin Castle courtyard.
While "Dublin Castle" sounds all nice and medievally Irish—and indeed this was the site of the first earthen fort established by the Vikings in AD 1204—don't come expecting a classic, craggy stone castle.

Dublin Castle today consists mainly of the 17th- and 18th-century State Apartments and assembly rooms that served the ruling British government for 700 years.

The remaining Viking and Norman bits of Dublin Castle

A bit of Viking-era Dublin.
A bit of medieval Dublin surviving underneath the castle: part of a (walled up) bridge, moat, and castle tower wall.
That said, on the required tours you do get to see a few sections of more ancient lineage. This included the 13th-century Record Tower, from the Norman era, and several early medieval bits still preserved in the areas underneath the more recent buildings.

These are collectively called the Medieval Undercroft. You'll see the foundations of that original Viking bunker, bits of medieval city wall, and the only remaining tumbledown stretch of the city's original Viking wall—as well as the walled-up arch of a bridge over what was once the long-vanished River Poddle, re-routed to become the castle moat.

The royal chapel

The Royal Chapel in Dublin Castle
The Royal Chapel in Dublin Castle.
While you're in the castle complex, pop into the Chapel Royal, a Gothic Revivial bit of frippery featuring the coats of arms of Dublin's various Justiciars, Lord Deputies, and Lord Lieutenants. These sigils start with very first ruler of Dublin, Hugh de Lacy—who was installed in 1172, two years after the Norman invasion—to the very last Lord Liuetenant under Briritsh rule, Edmund FitzAlan-Hoaward (27 April, 1921 – 6 December, 1922).

The builders of the chapel must have known independence was coming, because the Viscount FitzAlan's crest occupies the last possible space left for this purpose.


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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in February 2012.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.