The castle on the hill

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Where: Leinster, Leix, Ireland

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Those of us who travelled the old N7 over many years will have been familiar with the ruin of a castle dominating the skyline outside Portlaoise. Signs indicated that this was the Castle of Dunamaise and I often wondered at the story behind it. It's position appeared to be strategically perfect, dominating the relatively flat lands of the nearby counties, that we wondered why it had never been restored by a local landlord or robber baron. Today we have an image of a drawing/print from the Mason Collection with the title "Grose: Queen's County - Dunamase Castle ruins

Photographer: Thomas H. Mason

Collection: Mason Photographic Collection

Date: 1890 - 1910

NLI Ref: M46/21

You can also view this image, and many thousands of others, on the NLI’s catalogue at


Owner: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 5885
thomasholmesmason thomasmayne thomashmasonsonslimited lanternslides nationallibraryofireland dunamasecastle ruin queenscounty countylaoise leix grose printdrawing laois county countylaois

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    • 02/Sep/2022 08:51:05

    Flickr is sometimes Dunamazing! In 2016 via[email protected]/[email protected]/31653356584/

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    • 02/Sep/2022 08:55:37

    Photo of an old print Dunamase castle plate 1 of 3 Antique copper line engraved print By Hooper and Newton for Francis GROSE (c.1731 . .1791) for The Antiquities of Ireland (2 vols., 1st in 1791) Pub. by Mr. Hooper, Sep 17 1794 So, published after his death

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    • 02/Sep/2022 09:21:24

    Here is the original engraving in the book online. The text ftartf a few pagef before - And a link to a hi-res version of the image -

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    John Spooner

    • 02/Sep/2022 10:14:16

    Those look like cattle in the right foreground, but it's an enchanted ass you'd have to watch out for. If the Kerry Evening Post of Wednesday 11 June 1845 is to believed, (it mentions a policeman called Fox, after all) or rather if Michael Tynan, the defendant in a court case is to be believed, then there's a lot more going on at the Rock of Dunamase than is mentioned in the wikipedia article. The account of the proceedings begins as follows

    MARYBORO’ PETTY SESSIONS-Tuesday THE ENCHANTED ASS OF DUNAMASE. Sub-constable Joseph Fox summoned Michael Tynan for allowing his ass to roam at large about the roads in the vicinity of the ruins of the feudal fortress of Dunamase. Tynan was frequently warned about the animal, but without any effect. Fined 6d. and costs. Tynan, having heard their worships’ adjudication "looked unutterable things.” He was desired go down; and not allow the animal to roam at large any more ; for if again summoned, the penalty would be heavier. He should keep his ass well spancilled.
    That's when it gets weird. The defendant then goes on to explain why his ass is enchanted, recounting an incident involving (amongst many other things):
    - buried gold beneath the ruins, - a ghost "the white lady", - a verse predicting death (our 2nd in 2 days) but which rhymes "death" with "beneath" - a dramatis personae of Mick Hackett, Jack Robinson, Paddy Mara, Mick Reilly and Micky Hegarty. And a quart bottle of whiskey.
    A transcript of the complete article can be found here [BTW I couldn't help noticing that in the next case reported John Burke was fined (also 6d and costs) for "allowing one of his pigs to rusticate on the highway".] PS "Spancil" is a new word to me. I'm going to use it at every opportunity today, should any ass-hobbling work come my way.

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    Brendan Doyle

    • 02/Sep/2022 11:31:14

    From 2012, my home county.

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    Bernard Healy

    • 02/Sep/2022 16:35:44

    Apologies for hijacking, but some of you might be interested in the fact that I've managed to identify the architect of the church in Finny, Co Mayo that we saw a couple of days ago. I'd love to know if any of you can add further infomation about him.

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    • 02/Sep/2022 18:13:15[email protected]/ Good work, that explains the family resemblance between the two churches

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    catb -

    • 03/Sep/2022 11:38:54

    Castle of Dunamaise - November 2021