The Rock of Dunamase towers dramatically over the plains east of Portlaoise. The 150-foot high limestone hill is crowned with battered fortifications that are thousands of years old. Romantic ruins include a castle, towers, gatehouse, curtain walls and battlements. Views from the top are amazing and range from the bucolic countryside and little church immediately below to the Slieve Bloom Mountains and Wicklow Mountains.
Fortified since the Bronze Age, Dunamase was subsequently occupied by the Celts and destroyed by the Vikings in 845. In 1170 it was gifted by Dermot McMurrough, King of Leinster, to his daughter Aoife as a portion of her dowry at her marriage to Norman invader Strongbow. After many different owners down through the ages, Cromwell finally sacked it in 1650. The trenches from that battle can still be seen today.
The Rock of Dunamase is a picturesque forgotten place that is well off the beaten tourist path. Its brooding and impressive aspect make it well worth exploring and present many interesting photo opportunities. Free admission.
© 2011 Michele Erdvig
“Ireland Travel Expert”
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