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Rock of Dunamaise

Rocky Outcrop


You can see this rock outcrop very clearly while on the Portlaoise bypass (M7). The best way up to it is to turn off for the Heath (commons) and then pretty much follow the direction of the castle all the way. There is a car-park below the rock. Really amazing place you can feel the history.

Dun Masc' or the fort of Masc, as it was known by the Celts, is one of the most historic sites in Ireland. It's ruins date back thousands of years. Dunamase was even known to Ptolemy, who called it Dunnum and named it in his famous map of the world in The 2nd Century. The Rock stands 150 feet tall in the heart of what is otherwise a flat plain, and was ideal as a defensive position with its veiw right up to the Slieve Bloom Mountains. Pre-Celtic Bronze age settlers were the first to fortify it, followed by the Celts themselves. Among them was King Laois Mor, who gave his name to the country. The Vikings Plundered it in 845, and in the 13th century was given to Strongbow the Norman as a gift from his new son-in-law, Diarmiud Mac Murrough. It is Mac Murroughs castle which lies in ruin atop the rock today. The Castle went through some major changes of ownership over the years after this. Through Bargaining and back-stabbing (most likely in a very literal sence) it passed through the hands of Strongbow to the Anglo-Norman Mortimer family, and from them to the decendents of Laois Ceann Moore. The O'Moores, who used it as a staging point from which to make the Normans lives a living hadies.The O'Moores renovated the Mac Murroughs castle quite extensively in the 15th century, and they sucessfully defended it for over a century until the arival of the planters, who displaced the O'Moores and exiled them to Kerry along with the Fitspatricks, the O'Dempseys and the O'Dunnes in 1607. Finnaly, Oliver "the butcher" Cromwell saked the castle in 1650. One can still see the trenches where his troops were based. A Beloved Family pet still roams the ruins of the Rock. An unearthly, fire-breathing Black hound by the name of Bandog. Legend says he guards treasure buried deep inside Dunamase.

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bawn79 Posted by bawn79
9th November 2005ce
Edited 9th November 2005ce

Comments (2)

Charles Stuart Parnell's father lived on the Rock for some time and intended to make it into a residence. The fact that at least some of it is preserved is largely due to him. I have also read that when Cromwell turned up the castle was long abandoned and in a partially ruinous state that he dismantled it further, like he did at Nenagh castle, to prevent it being re-inhabited. There seems to be a contradiction to the accounts given of Cromwell's involvement. Some say it was a siege and some say a dismantling... TheStandingStone Posted by TheStandingStone
15th September 2009ce
The last time I went here I noticed a high cross in the hedgerow that I have never seen before. They had recently cut it away and I assumed that maybe it was always there but highly overgrown. I was excited that there was something like this as this site. I pressed on up the hill and noticed another high cross, then another and then another. Eventually I saw at least 5 high crosses dotted around the hill as well as some ogham stones, grave stones and early-Christian cross pillars and slabs. I knew these were never here before and theories raced around in my head. I thought, 'maybe these have been recently discovered at the site', or 'maybe they were found here and have been in restoration for many years and finally put back in situ'. I was getting quite excited and giddy at all these knew things. Then I saw an entirely reconstructed portion of the castle that I had never seen before. It was a portion of wall with steps leading up to the top...I knew that was no there before...I am a frequent visitor to this site. Now I was getting really puzzled and couldn't figure this out. I then saw another high cross leaning dangerously forward. I thought it was likely that it could fall on somebody and injure them. I poked it with my finger and it fell flat on it's face on the ground. I had just damaged a precious high cross. I thought that I might be able to lift it back into place and realised that it was light enough for me to lift with one hand. It was a fake...made with fibre glass and very well decorated. I rushed around the site and found that all the crosses, ogham stone etc were either, wooden, fibreglass or polystyrene. Then I went to the new bit of wall and walked around the back and it was fake also, with a timber frame. Now I was enraged that these things were here, why? Were the state so desperate to get people there that they would place fake artefacts up there to make it look better? Eventually, while walking back to my car a passer by asked me if I knew the name of the film being made on the Rock...they were all movie props...that's all...all my excitement and then anger was for nothing.

Funny and true.
TheStandingStone Posted by TheStandingStone
15th September 2009ce
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