Donadea Castle

Donadea Castle (1)

Donadea Castle (2)

The next port of call on my recent blitz was the striking ruin of Donadea Castle. I had been meaning to visit for some time now and since I was in the area, I really didn’t need an excuse.  I’m still not quite sure why it’s called a castle, as the current structure appears to be more of a great Mansion house than a castle, but then again it more than likely takes its name from an earlier fortification on the site. It can be found in Donadea Forest Park which is now owned by Coillte the company who runs the state forests. A word of warning, on arrival you are met by an automated barrier and to gain entry will set you back €5. It’s a hefty price to pay just to park your car, but I had my heart set on checking out the ruins after the earlier disaster at the Hill of Allen so on I went. On a nice day Donadea would be perfect for a family day out, with plenty of nature walks and picnic areas. Unfortunately I had only researched the ruins prior to my visit and was not aware of some of the other attractions until I was leaving. So not doubt I will make a return trip during the summer with the entire family and make a day of it. I won’t go into too much detail here but there is also a medieval church & graveyard on the grounds, and we shall keep that story for another day.

Donadea Castle (3)

Donadea Castle (4)

Donadea Castle (5)

The Normans were the first to settle in Donadea and erect a fortification. This would have been the first of many Castles to be built on the site throughout the middle ages. The earliest mention of an owner dates back to 1312AD when a Sir Walter FitzHenry held the lands at Donadea. Now this is where dates get tricky but some time before 1356 John De Bermingham was in control until his son was accused of Treason.  John had become Earl of Louth after defeating Edward Bruce. However his service to the crown did not stop Richard II from confiscating the lands and granting them to the Earl of Ormond. Besides the Fitzgerald family, the De Bermingham’s were one of the most powerful Norman families in Ireland. Previously I have visited many De Bermingham strongholds which are mostly scattered in and around the Kildare/Offaly borders. Carbury Castle and Teampall Do-Ath , Grange Castle,  Mac Feorais Castle,  Priory of De Laude Dei and Carrick Church are all in County Kildare, whilst Blundell CastleKinnefad CastleMonasteroris Medieval Church & Graveyard and Monasteroris Friary & Castro Petre are in County Offaly.

Donadea Castle (6)

Donadea Castle (7)

Donadea Castle (8)

In 1597 Donadea passed on to the Aylmer’s of Lyon and Donadea would stay in the family until the death in 1935 of the last Aylmer descendant, Caroline Maria  Aylmer, who left the estate to the Church of Ireland. In the 1950’s Donadea and its surrounding lands were passed on to the State where the castle remained unoccupied and lost its roof in the late 50’s. In 1981 the minister for Fisheries and Forestry, Paddy Power T.D. for Kildare opened Donadea Demesne to the public.

Donadea Castle (9)

Donadea Castle (10)

Donadea Castle (11)

The original Castle Tower was constructed by Gerald Aylmer over many years finally reaching completion in 1624. The original Tower was built by Sir Gerald Aylmer in 1624. Gerald Aylmer had been knighted in 1605 and became a Baronet in 1621. The castle suffered severe damaged during the  1641 rebellion, as a result of Andrew Aylmer’s support of the rebels. Even though Andrew was related to the Lord Lieutenant, the Earl of Ormond he received no quarter. The Earl sent troops to seize Donadea and had in burnt to the ground. It was then rebuilt by Andrew’s sister Ellen Aylmer whom had tried to defend the castle. In 1773, the castle underwent more changes rebuilt and again in 1827 by the architect Sir Richard Morrison who remodelled the entire front of the house and incorporated the original Tower into the structure.

Donadea Castle (12)

Donadea Castle (13)

Donadea Castle (14)

Today the roofless castle lies in utter ruin; I can only imagine how stunning it might have looked in its heyday. I scoured around for a while looking for a way to get into the castle to explore further, but it has been well and truly secured. So I had to settle with just the view on three sides of the castle. The front enterance is barred up but it does afford a partial glimpse into the interior which is clearly over-run and dilapidated. It’s a crying shame that nothing has been done to restore Donadea to its former glory, especially seen as Coillte are raking in a serious amount of cash from parking. That said I’m looking forward to returning to find the Medieval Church that I missed out on this time around.

Donadea Castle (15)

Donadea Castle (26)

Donadea Castle (25)

Donadea Castle (24)

Donadea Castle (23) Donadea Castle (22)

Donadea Castle (21)

Donadea Castle (20)

Donadea Castle (19)

Donadea Castle (18)

Donadea Castle (17)

Donadea Castle (16)

For these and more of my images, why not visit my Website or join me on Facebook or Twitter.

About edmooneyphotography

Photographer, Blogger, Ruinhunter, with an unhealthy obsession for history, mythology and the arcane.
This entry was posted in Castles, Diary of a Ruinhunter, Historical, Medieval, Photography, Places of Interest, Ruins and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

64 Responses to Donadea Castle

  1. Great photos Ed. There are something special about old castles. Once I did live in one of them and they are really something for themselves.


  2. suej says:

    Shame there’s no way in, it looks tantalising….


  3. The rich history of Ireland is in its ruins! 😀 😀 😀


  4. Good post Ed – worth the fee for parking. I like the flora which is hanging on parts of the walls – it adds a nice bit of nature to the man-made elements. perhaps it is called a castle because of the merlons – which give it that castle wall look. Enjoy the weekend!


  5. Line says:

    You probably think it’s weird, but I am going to say it anyway: Whenever I visited places like this in Ireland (and I visited many because my Irish Fairy Godmother studies archeology) I used to touch the stones or put my cheek next to them, and I would feel this immense energy, I mean it was just overwhelming! I think they have kept these ruins quite intact, I mean I don’t think they have altered much about them, because I have never felt such energy from an old building before (except once in Norway when I was little, in an ancient cathedral where all our old kings are buried). Ireland is just so amazing! Ireland and India are for me, the most spiritual countries I have ever been to. There is magic, and history and fairy tales floating around in the air itself.


    • Not weird at all Line,
      I do the same thing, mostly at ancient sites such as standing stones etc, but as many of the old churches, abbeys, cathedrals were built on top of ancient places of power it is possible to pick up on the energies.
      Most of the places I get to visit will not have this energy present, but you can still feel a residual energy from the past. Im probably not explaining it too well. but your right their is a magic in the air, you just need to stop and wait for it, 🙂


  6. bamauthor says:

    This one could be restored to be a real beauty! Definitely can see the Norman influencs….


  7. iosatel says:

    Great series!


  8. seaangel4444 says:

    Brilliant, Ed!! Cher xo


  9. simonhlilly says:

    Probably better roofless, these thick-walled shrugging thugs of the landscape, and green-walled, green-tombed, a habit for thrush and snail, the fading echoes of intruder words, muscled in, muscled out, left to a bed of leaves and nostalgic waverings of day visitors trailing after twittering children….


  10. cari365 says:

    Stunning Ed!!!! I love how she wears her Ivy coat, just beautiful!!!! Happy St’ Paddy’s Day for you tomorrow 😀


  11. themofman says:

    Finaly, I found my way back to this blog.


  12. LB says:

    Looks like a castle to me 🙂
    That growth of foliage is impressive, too!


  13. Pingback: Celebrating Irish Blogs and Bloggers on Saint Patrick’s Day — Blog —

  14. damsalinterrupted says:

    Reblogged this on damsalinterrupted.


  15. 2l2phant says:

    Reblogged this on 2l2phant.


  16. 2l2phant says:

    Simply beautiful! Thank you for sharing 🙂


  17. wildninja says:

    Hey Ed, congratulations on being featured here: I was just reading this WP article and said, “Hey! I know that guy!” Well, I know his work, anyway.


  18. DG MARYOGA says:

    Fabulous castle and photo series,perfecly illustrated ! They look absolutely wondrous in B/W !
    Great share,my friend ~~~♥


  19. chattinatti says:

    Lovely photos and interesting history! I love old castles. 🙂


  20. LAMarcom says:

    Wonderful photos and history.
    Thanks for sharing.


  21. Evelyn says:

    Fantastic work on the photos Ed. I love the way you capture these in black and white. Where they usually become obscured in that medium yours seem to show more detail. It is a shame about the ruination of this one because it could be saved. The vegetation alone is going to play havoc soon if it is not removed but it has to be done properly or just removing it can be dangerous and futile. Hence, the security prevention. I’ll look into this to see if anything is planned. Beautiful.
    The Castle Lady ; )


    • Thanks Evelyn, I think the absence of color allows more detail to show and just importantly it shows the atmosphere of the subject. You can blame the late Simon Marsden for my influence, although his work is mainly IR, its been a huge influence on how I see a scene before I press that button.
      I was having a good look around I Love Castles, fantastic website, but I noticed that Ireland is missing! Any plans for visiting our fair shores? 🙂



  22. I really love your pictures! Keep up the good work.


  23. I think this rich part is now going away from us…. Now it has turned in ruins and after few years there will be no existence on planet but these pictures are keeping history alive…

    Thank you for saving a heritage in your pictures..


  24. Thank you for liking “Spring Is Here!” Great post! 🙂 Your Donadea Castle photos are fantastic. You did a wonderful job of capturing the textures of the ancient walls and the plants growing on and around them. I also appreciate that you provided some historical background information about the castle as well. This would be a great place to restore and preserve so that future generations could see it.


  25. eilynash says:

    Hauntingly atmospheric. Loved your photos 🙂


  26. itsclaudd says:

    Beautiful photos! What an adventure this must have been.


  27. myeagermind says:

    Reblogged this on Lenora's Culture Center and Foray into History and commented:
    Amazing Pictures


  28. Pingback: My Photoblog Adventure 2014, A year in review Part 1 | EdMooneyPhotography

  29. Pingback: The Ancient Hill of Allen | Ed Mooney Photography

  30. Pingback: Capturing History Challenge – Week 5 | Ed Mooney Photography

  31. love this!! and rather spooky too!!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s