Posted by: mdmusingsie | August 11, 2017

B and B (and a little bit of B)

On a mostly sunny bank holiday Monday, I headed out for another castle hunting adventure. During my search of nearby castles, I liked the look of Balrothery Castle with its attached round tower that is a staircase. What I didn’t realize until I arrived was that I had come that way before and barely noticed the place.  It’s right on the way to Ardgillan Castle.

Balrothery is a 15th century construct and was considered to the residential part of a larger church.  You can see from the photo below that the large inverted V on the side of the building is several feet higher than the current attached church.

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Inverted V shows where old church used to attach

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Balrothery Church Tower

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Balrothery Church Tower

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Tombstones from 1700’s

According to the little information I could find (the heritage centre was closed) Balrothery was considered to be the administrative centre of the Anglo Normans and was quite a hive of activity in its day.  It lies on one of the five ancient roads leading to the Hill of Tara.

So what is considered the castle is really a church tower and what I didn’t know until I arrived was that there was an actual castle/tower house, just a few feet from the church.  I believe it’s privately owned, which may explain the lack of information about the tower.  It is somewhat strange to see gunholes so close to the ground level, but they do flank the sides of a bricked up arched doorway.

I was able to capture the inside of one of the gunholes with my flash on and you can just about see a rounded doorway to the right.

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The place didn’t have any kind of negative energy associated with it that I could sense. It is a quiet place where you can hear the hum of the traffic from the nearby motorway but also the cooing of pigeons and other birds that are the current residents.

Outside the tower house stood a medieval knight carved into a tree trunk bearing the inscription 1343, Richard Constentyn, the Baron of Balrothery.  On the back was carved a shield. The carving was the creation of Richard Clarke and was commissioned by the Balrothery Community Association in 2016.

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Between the church tower and the castle tower sat a small house with a For Sale sign.  Out of curiosity I checked the price when I got home.  If I can’t afford a sea view, maybe being 10 steps from a castle would suffice.  The two bedroom cottage was going for castle prices!  Even more than the average Dublin house; which is by no means cheap these days.  For a one pub, one Spar town, the housing prices require a knight’s ransom.

The last bemusing bit of Balrothery I found was a post (mail) box embedded in the wall surrounding the church; which appeared to still be in working order.

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Post box in wall surrounding church yard – Balrothery

Leaving Balrothery I headed a little farther north to Balbriggan.  There is also a castle in Balbriggan, which is on a much grander scale, but also inaccessible.  However, Bremore Castle wasn’t just closed because it was a bank holiday, it is currently undergoing restoration.  The restoration has been going on for at least 15 years, based on my internet search, so I’m hoping they’ll finally get around to opening it to the public soon.  Here’s one or two tasters until I can get inside myself. Based on the photos in the links, I think it ready to be shown.

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Bremore Castle – Balbriggan

A sign for An Trá led me down a narrow street and through a one-car-at-a-time archway that opened onto a park and beach.  To my immediate left was a Martello tower. Built in the 19th century as lookout and defensive structures for the military, they dot the British and Irish coastlines.  Some have actually been restored and turned into houses, but it takes a lot of guts and determination to take on the heritage boards.  Sometimes I think the governments would rather see these monuments fall to the ground, stone by stone, rather than let someone renovate them to a reasonably modern standard. (exiting soap box…)

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Balbriggan Martello Tower

From atop the mound where the tower sat you could see the end of a building minus its roof.  As I gazed down, I thought, who would want to give up such a nice beach front existence?  However, coming around from the water side, it appeared to be a set of 2 abandoned boat houses.  While flood insurance may make the properties too expensive to live in, they still have some commercial value selling sweets and ice cream in the summer, or maybe a nice little café.

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Abandoned boat house – Balbriggan

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Abandoned boat houses

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Proximity of boat houses to the sea

It was a beautiful day and the water was calm and tranquil so I just sat and gazed out at the water for a while.  To the right of the Martello tower is a nice, sandy beach where a number of people were enjoying the day – fewer than I would have expected for a nice bank holiday, but I wasn’t complaining as I enjoyed the quiet.  One person was paddling along on a surf board – there wasn’t a wave in sight to give him a ride.  As I glanced his way I saw the head of a seal disappear into the Irish Sea.  What a lovely spot.  I suspect I will be returning now and then to channel my inner Zen.

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Irish Sea from Balbriggan

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Balbriggan beach

So there we have it, Balrothery, Balbriggan, and a little bit of Bremore with hopefully more of the latter to come soon.

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Responses

  1. Happy Birthday, Dawn. May you have a year filled with castles and churches as you travel in your beloved Ireland.


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