On a recent drive through Portarlington i caught sight in the distance an old ruin, now i had traveled this road on numerous occasions but had never noticed this before. Heading toward Port from Monasterevin a little winding road just before the rugby grounds brought me to the ruins of what was Lea Castle. Lea Castle it appears was built around 1260 ad and was a property of the De Vesci family. Only one of the four original bastion’s now remains. The north side of the castle was protected by the river Barrow. The outer entrance to the castle, consisted of a gate defended by a portcullis. The castle was taken and burned by the Chiefs of Offaly. Lea was burnt in 1285 by the O’Connors, in 1307 by O’More and in 1315 by Bruce, after which the adjacent town was abandoned. The castle was subsequently captured on many occasions and passed to the O’Mores, the FitzGeralds, the Earls of Ormonde and the O’Dempseys, before Cromwellian troops finally wrecked it in 1650. In the 18th century the celebrated horse-thief James Dempsey used the vaults of the keep as his stables.
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“Like” isn’t strong enough here. This is lovely. Thank you for sharing (even if I did come here through the sad post of the Coolbanger Castle destruction post).
Thank you, 🙂
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Thank you for posting these amazing photos. We were there last summer visiting from the US and tried to get close through the farmer’s field but it is a bog and we didn’t have wellies. Since we were on a Dempsey Geneology hunt it was amazing to even get close and take photos but now we can see the inside. We also trudged through another field near the river to find the Lea graveyard which is also overgrown and in ruin. So sad. Hopefully the conservation project will bring this family fortress back to life. Shelley Dempsey, CT, USA