Windows galore in Ardra

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A visit to the Irish Tourist Association collection and Ardra Castle today. There are many old fortified towers about but this one is different to any I have ever seen. That door is enormous, the windows are plentiful and it looks more like the tower of a church than a castle - but?

Photographer: Irish Tourist Association Photographer

Collection: Irish Tourist Association Photographic Collection

Date: 1942

NLI Ref: NPA ITA 1209 (Box VI)

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: 7530
irishtouristassociation irishtourist nationallibraryofireland ireland bwfilmnegatives glassnegatives ardracastle fortifiedtower gazebo folly

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    • 18/Jan/2023 09:03:24

    No longer standing, according to - "Until recently, a castle tower stood in the townland of Ardra. Although the building had a Norman look it was actually a garden folly or, as it was known locally, a gazebo. It is unclear who built the tower, but as it was situated in the Wandesforde Demesne about a mile from the main gate it is reasonable to assume that the Wandesforde family constructed it. The setting overlooking the Dinan River enhanced the 'romantic' feel of the building. The 'castle' consisted of one square tower, with turrets built of brick and rubble. It stood three storeys high, and the granite windows were arched. The windows may originally have come from an old church, although this is speculation. The interior of the tower originally had a stairs to the top. However, they fell into disrepair and were removed by Captain R.H. Wandesforde. The tower was originally surrounded by a small ditch and was reached by crossing a bridge. The two fishing lakes and the demesne's polo grounds would have been visible from the tower, making it was a popular site for photographs. Unfortunately the tower no longer exists."

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    • 18/Jan/2023 09:06:53

    T'other side (from the link above which also has today's image)" />

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    • 18/Jan/2023 09:39:23

    Marked on the 25" map as "Castle of Ardra (in ruins)". About: 52.820848, -7.206210 Google Maps Satellite -,-7.2063905,313m/data=!3m1...

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    Niall McAuley

    • 18/Jan/2023 09:46:26

    The "castle" is on the 1900ish 25", but not on the 1830s 6".

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    • 18/Jan/2023 09:54:41

    History of the Wandesfordes and Castlecomer House, including coal -

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    John Spooner

    • 18/Jan/2023 10:04:37

    From an article in the Carlow Nationalist - Saturday 16 October 1897, which reads as if it was written by the Irish Tourist Association:

    Let us take a stroll up the high walk and stand at the Rock House and our eye is met with as nice a view of home life as anyone need wish to find. Further on the same walk we come upon the castle, that famous building which now stands for "whispering lovers made," but which formerly stood as an outpost or turret for the Brennan family, out of which beacon lights used to be hung in times of danger. There were several of such in the vicinity of Castlecomer, but the Castle of Ardra, as it was called, was one of the most important on account of its close proximity to the mansion. The castle commands a splendid view of the country for miles around, and owing to the velvety sward surrounding its base, a tread over which would give relief to the most wearied of travellers, would be one of the nicest parts to partake of a pic-nic.

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    John Spooner

    • 18/Jan/2023 10:28:16

    From a letter written by Lizzie Brennan of Little Castle, Castlecomer, to "Granny" of the Weekly Irish Times and published on Saturday 23 June 1906. The letter won "Granny's Hamper" that week.

    Last time wrote I promised to tell you about the Castle of Ardra. It is very beautiful place; the walls of it are many feet high and are covered with ivy, in which the rooks and other birds build their nests. When the young ones come out you cannot hear anything with their noise. In former days the castle belonged to the Brennans, and in summer, some years ago, dances were held there in the evenings. The rooms in the top were for ladies and gentlemen, and the rooms below them were for the poorer class of people. Now there is nothing there but the walls and its beautiful surroundings.
    How very Upstairs Downstairs.

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    • 18/Jan/2023 14:03:08

    : Designed landscape - folly Townland: ARDRA Scheduled for inclusion in the next revision of the RMP: No Description: In woodland. It is described in the OS Letters (1839) (O’Flanagan 1930, vol. 1, 46 (16)) as a, ‘square tower (and part of an external wall) of a ruined castle. Great part of the tower is of brick; inside it measures eleven feet two inches by ten feet 3.4m x 3m and is about thirty feet high c. 9m’. A sketch of a typical window shows a pointed two-light window with Y-tracery. A description from 1942 (I.T.A. Survey, OPW topographical files) describes it as consisting of, ‘one square tower, 3-storied, built of brick and rubble. Castellated. Inside it measures 11’2” x 10’ and is about 30’ high. The windows are of granite, and have the appearance of having been taken from an old church. There is a small ditch round the tower, with a stone bridge over it. The inside stairs were removed a few years ago by Capt. Wandesforde, as they had become dangerous. It is in the demesne of Castlecomer House, about 1 mile from the gate. The main roadway through the wood leads straight to it. I have noted Ardra Castle as it is marked on the O.S maps as an antiquity, but it has an artificial appearance to me, as if it were erected as an adornment to the demesne’. The tower was demolished in 1961. The use of brick and the form of the windows suggest that this was an 18th-century folly rather than a medieval castle. The 1899 6-inch OS map shows the castle feature forming the focal point of the NW vista of a feature of radiating pathways through the woods called the 'Twelve Views'. Compiled by: Jean Farrelly Date of upload: 8 May 2017