Dublin Castle – 1204 to 1922

Plan of Dublin Castle c1940

Caisleán Bhaile Átha Cliath / Dublin Castle from 13th Century to the 1920s, extract of timeline and plan from booklet published c1940

1204 Mandate for erection of the Castle.
1228 Completion of towers by this date.
1242 Hall to be completed; windows of the Chapel to be made; two chaplains to be provided to say Mass in the Chapel-one Mass of St. Edward and another of the Blessed Virgin-every Saturday with fifteen wax candles, on other days with four.
1243 King Henry III gives instructions for building the hall.
1244 Suspension of this construction.
1267-8 Expended on fortifications, etc., £342.
1320 Great Hall repaired ; taking down and rebuilding walls.
1330 Glazing of the windows of the Hall with stained glass.
1381 Enquiry into the defects of the buildings.
1422 John Coryngham appointed to be Keeper of the King’s Palace within the Castle of Dublin with a fee of 100s. per annum.
1430 The hall, towers and other buildings reported to be in a ruinous state and records damaged by rain. 20 marks per annum allotted for reparation.
1459 A mint opened in the Castle.

1462 Report that “the Castle …of Dublin…wherein the courts are kept, is ruinous and like to fall.” Ordered that the leads of the aisles of the hall be sold to make and repair the hall (i.e., the Central aisle, evidently)
1559 Lord Deputy Sidney writes to the Council in England regarding a certain tower, which had been unroofed by Lord Sussex, Lord Lieut., in order to make a platform for cannon on it; lead in large quantity wanted to cover in the tower again, otherwise “it will be the final decaye of that Tower, beside the Losse we will have in the meane time of neither Rowmes there for the bestowing of Powder and other Munycions, whereof (being as it is) we can lay there nothing.” This was evidently the northeast or Powder Tower.
1572 The gatehouse tower stated to be in a bad state, “riven” from the top to the bottom, to the hazard of the porter and the prisoners lodged there. A hundred feet of the north wall to the west of the gate “utterly decayed” should be new built. Other. defects also enumerated.
1578 Grant to George Arglasse of the office ofkeeping, attending and cleaning the new buildings, houses, rooms and edifices erected within the Castle of Dublin for a convenient “place for the abode of the Lord Deputy, his train and household and for the assembling of the Council; and also to keep, set and tend the clock newly erected in the castle; To hold during pleasure with fee of 8d. a day for tending the buildings and 8d. a day for tending the clock: he is to have a lodging in the Castle. The new buildings are evidently those built by Lord Deputy Sidney in pursuance of Elizabeth’s order of 1560. (Two other clocks were set up in Dublin at this time : at St. Patrick’s and the Tholsel.)
1584 Lord Deputy Perrott writes to the Ld. Treasurer of England : “There is here no place for the law save only an old hall in this castle …and the same very dangerously over the munition and powder, where a desperate fellow by dropping down a match might haply mar all.”
1587 Red Hugh O’Donnell’s imprisonment.
1591 His second escape.
1596 Explosion of a large number of barrels of gunpowder at the Wood Quay. It killed 120 people, completely destroyed upwards of fifty houses and shattered many more, and damaged the walls and towers of the Castle itself, particularly on the north and west sides.
1607 Imprisonment and escapes of Richard Nugent, Lord Delvin.
1617 Gatehouse re-built.
1624 Proposal to pull down the north-west tower; it fell of itself a few days later.
1633 Lord Deputy Wentworth (Strafford) writes to Secretary Coke in a long letter : “This Castle is in very great decay. I have been enforced to take down one of the great Towers which was ready to fall and the rest are so crazy as we are still in fear part of it may drop upon our heads, as one tower did whilst my Lord Chancellor was here… I am therefore constantly constrained to fall to repair and pull down what would else fall of itself …and withal gain some few rooms more than now there is, the house not being of receipt sufficient to lodge me and my company. “There is not any stable but a poor mean one, and that made out of a decayed church [St. Andrew’s] , wch. is such a prophanation as I am sure his Majusty would not allow of … I have therefore got a piece of ground whereon to build a new one, the most convenient for ye Castle in ye world… There will be room for three score horses.” [Strafford bought for £150 a piece of ground for a garden and out-courts for fuel.] “I will provide the House of a Garden and out-courts for fuel and such other necessaries belonging to a family, whereof I am now altogether unprovided, the Bake-house in present being just under ye room where I now write and ye Woodreek just full below of ye gallery windows . . . and thus I trust to make this habitation easeful and pleasant …whereas now upon my faith it is little better than a very prison . . .” It is fairly clear that the stables, etc., which he built were to the east of the Poddle where the later stables, Riding School, etc., now are. The garden was possibly to the south, as now, or an extension of that ground, since gardens. on the south and east are mentioned in an inventory 1585 of the various windows and loops looking in different directions from the walls. In the same year Strafford. apologises to the Earl of Leicester for taking down his grandfather’s arms from the gate and says that he will put up the old stone again over the new one. The tower he took clown and re-built seems to have been that at the north-east corner. It was taken down again in 1711.
1659 Castle surprised by officers inclined to the Restoration.
1660 Sir Hardress Waller seized the Castle and held it for a few days on behalf of the Parliament.
1660-5 Over £5,000 had been spent on the repairs during several previous years.
1671 A fire burnt the Parliament House (Hall) and stores.
1678 Peter Talbot, Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, imprisoned.
1684 A great fire in the Castle destroyed a large section of the State and residential apartments on the south side, as well as the Chapel which stood near the hall.
1689 Part of the south wall near the Record Tower fell ; its remains, enclosed in modern work, form the terrace south of the State apartments, between the tower and the small octagon room.
1690 The Castle seized for William III. The XVIIIth century reconstruction which forms the most part of the buildings now standing.
1757 Some records burnt in the Bermingham Tower.
1801 Imperial Standard flown from Bermingham Tower on January 1st, to mark the Union.
1807 Old Chapel Royal taken down. New Chapel Royal first used for Divine Service on Christmas Day.
1851 Senate of Queen’s University sits, for the first time, in the Castle to confer degrees.
1909 Heraldic Museum in the Office of Arms (now Genealogical Office) opened. New Supper Room built for, visit of King George V, and the State apartments modernised for his reception. (Few kings have actually lived in the Castle; Richard II probably, in 1384, 1394 and 1399, James II, 1690. Oliver Cromwell also is said to have resided near the Castle for a time.)
1914-19 Castle used in part as Red Cross hospital.
1922 Castle taken over by the Provisional Government. Since then it has been used for the accommodation of various Government Departments.

by H.G. Leask, Insp. of National Monuments for Commissioners of Public Works


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