Posted by: mdmusingsie | September 27, 2016

Culture Night 2016

Dublin Bus was on strike for Culture Night this year, which dampened any chance of going into the city centre to check out the myriad of opportunities this annual event has to offer.  Despite having a car, parking in the city is über expensive and I avoid it at all costs (pun intended).

However, all was not lost.  Because I have a car I could attend an event that might not be as accessible by bus.  I decided on Swords Castle as it was easy to get to and wasn’t booked out like some of my other choices.

Although it’s called a castle, it technically wasn’t one, though it has the looks with a portcullis entry, curtain wall enclosure and several tower houses.  It was actually the Archbishop of Dublin’s residence and administrative centre. It was built around 1200 though some parts appear to be both earlier and later construction.

Of habitable space, only the Constable’s tower, chapel and chamber block (adjoining the chapel) are currently accessible, whilst other buildings are in varying stages of ruin around a central courtyard.  They are still in the process of excavations and believe there may have been other buildings inside.

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During normal operations, you can visit the Constable’s tower and chamber block, but it being Culture Night, only the Chapel was open as they were having talks about the property at regular intervals.  I’ll have to go back some day and see the rest.

The Chapel was reconstructed starting around 1995 when the timber roof was put up.  The carved heads in the corbels are meant to represent the people working there at the time.  In traditional times, they would either represent masons or, in this case, probably patrons of the church.  One of them gave me the willies when I was editing the photos. That matched the oppressive energy I felt in the chapel, though whether that was from things that might have gone on there or the graveyard it appears to be built upon is open to interpretation.

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Floor tiles discovered during excavation were also reconstructed and bear a strong resemblance to those at Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin.


reconstructed chapel floor

During the summer they had archaeology days where the public could come along and work with the archaeologists, likely to sift through rubble that was dug up and clean pieces of artifacts found.  Work will continue on archaeological and reconstructive efforts for years to come.

According to the leaflet, the income from the farming estates around Swords produced roughly half of the Archbishop’s annual income.  In today’s currency, it is compared to 6 million Euro.  Seems to me I read about some vow of poverty at some point, somewhere.  That obviously did not apply here as they also found fragments of jugs from fine French wine.  I suspect his eminence did not dispense that at mass and was probably not partaking of the local poitín, either.

Curtain walls may have kept out the local riffraff at the time, but today, they employ more modern methods like razor wire and closed circuit cameras.


Curtain wall and backside of Constable’s Tower (cctv cameras at top)


Back side of Constable’s Tower


Curtain wall – look close to see the razor wire atop


  1. Looking for ghosts?

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