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Sand sculptures, Dublin Castle, Dublin county, Leinster, Ireland photo
Sand sculptures, Dublin Castle, Dublin county, Leinster

The Castle stands on the high ridge, the highest ground in the locality, at the junction of the River Liffey and its tributary the (now underground) Poddle, which formed a natural boundary on two sides. It is very probable that the original fortification on this easily defended strategic site was a Gaelic Ringfort, which guarded the harbour, the adjacent Dubhlinn Ecclesiastical Centre and the four long distant roads that converged nearby.

Dublin Castle, Ireland photo
In the 930's, a Danish Viking Fortress stood on this site and part of the town defences is on view at the Undercroft, where the facing stone revetments offered protection against the River Poddle. Their settlement of Dyflinn (a corruption of Dubhlinn) quickly became the main Viking military base and trading centre of slaves and silver, in Ireland. The Norwegian and sometimes Danish rulers had control of the Irish Sea and forayed deep into the centre of Ireland, where monasteries, with their precious ornaments and vessels, were easy targets. Eventually their power was broken, when they and their allies were heavily defeated by an Irish army under the command of King Brian Boru, at the Battle of Clontarft, 1014.

Neither the Irish nor the Vikings could withstand the Norman invasion of 1169. The Vikings were ejected and the Normans became the next occupiers of Dublin. They strengthened and expanded the existing town walls. It is assumed that their first fortification was an earth and wooden, motte and bailey, on the site of present day Dublin Castle. There is archaeological evidence of a wooden and stone castle there in the 1170's.

Dublin Castle, Ireland photo
In August 1204, King John of England commanded the erection of a (larger) strong castle, with strong walls and good ditches, for the defence of the city, administration of justice and safe custody of treasure. It was completed by 1230 and the Great Courtyard (Upper Castle Yard) of today corresponds closely with the fortification.

We are fortunate that Dublin Castle survived the subsequent Civil War, the transition to Irish nationhood and fall into disrepair. The site has been occupied over the ages and modified to suit its ever-changing functions. All the historic buildings have been restored and the Castle is now fully integrated into Irish society. It now plays host to European Union Presidencies, Heads of State, and leaders of business, industry and government. It is also a major tourist attraction and citizens of all nations experience the varied facilities and the unique historic layers revealed throughout the complex - from the Medieval Tower to the world treasures of the Chester Beatty Library and from the Viking Defence Bank to the splendid State Apartments.

SOURCE: Holger Leue 2005, courtesy of Tourism Ireland, and Wikipedia Commons.

NOTE: The information regarding Ireland on this page is re-published from other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Ireland information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Ireland photos should be addressed to the copyright owner noted below the photo.

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