26 DECEMBER 2023
Trim Castle is the largest, best-preserved & most impressive Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland.
For strategic reasons, de Lacy decided to make Trim, rather than Drogheda, the centre of his newly acquired lordship. De Lacy converted a ringfort into a wooden castle with a spiked stockade. This structure was seen as a threat by the Gaelic Irish and in 1174 Rory O’Connor, King of Connacht (and last High King of Ireland), attacked and it was destroyed. The following year work began on a more permanent stone replacement and over the following decades Hugh de Lacy (d. 1186) and his son Walter constructed the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland. Initially a stone keep, or tower, replaced the wooden fortification. The keep was remodeled and then surrounded by curtain walls and a moat. The wall, punctuated by several towers and a gatehouse, fortified an area of about 3 acres. Most of the castle visible today was completed by 1220.
Trim Castle passed from the de Lacy family to Geoffrey de Geneville, an important French knight and crusader who had become a loyal supporter of Henry III of England and his son Edward I. Geoffrey built the great hall beside the keep and founded the Dominican Blackfriary in the north of the town. From the de Geneville family it passed to the Mortimers (including the imfamous Roger Mortimer who helped his lover Queen Isabella depose her husband Edward II). From the Mortimers it then passed to being a possession of the Duke of York until the War of the Roses, when it was finally seized as a royal property.
The unique twenty-sided cruciform design of the keep (with walls 3m thick) is an example of the experimental military architecture of the period. It served as both the domestic and administrative centre of the castle. By 1500 much of Ireland was back in the hands of Gaelic Chieftains and the territory under English control had been reduced to an area around Dublin, known as ‘The Pale’. By this time Trim Castle was in decline; however, it remained an important outpost protecting the north- western frontier of The Pale.