The castle building of William Marshal in Ireland

The castle building of William Marshal in Ireland

Dargan, Pat  (Dublin Institute of Technology)

Irish Roots, no. 61, (2007) pp.12-14.    


William Marshall was one of the major Anglo-Norman magnates to involve himself in Irish medieval history and in the process left a legacy of four major castles imprinted on the Irish landscape. These include the castles at Kilkenny, Carlow, Ferns, and Lea. In order to fully appreciate these castles it is necessary to bear in mind that they must be seen in the context of a comprehensive Marshall policy of land control – rather than as individual buildings. However, before looking at the Marshall’s building programme, it is worth considering the background of his acquisition of his Irish lands.

The late twelfth century Anglo-norman intervention in Ireland resulted from the issuing of an invitation to Richard de Clare, Early of Pembroke, by the native Dermot McMurrough to help him recapture his kingdom of Leinster, from which he had recently been driven. McMurrough promised de Clare the hand of his daughter Aoife in marriage and the succession to his kingdom, should the venture be successful. In the event, McMurrough and his Norman allies were eminently successful and de Clare and Aoife were married in Waterford in August 1169. Two years later Dermot died and de Clare claimed his promised inheritance.

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