The earliest mention of the fortified stronghold of English power, so often referred to in the Irish State Papers of the Plantagenets as his Majesty's Castle of Dublin, is to be found in the records of the reign of King John, and is just seven centuries old. Whether the actual site of the Castle had been occupied by a fortress, and had served as the seat of government prior to the year 1204, it is now impossible to determine. How far the Plantagenet castle can be fairly identified with the earlier stronghold known to have been erected by the Danish sovereigns of Dublin is one of those questions which, since they can never be positively answered, it is profitless to discuss. On this point all that can be affirmed is, that the probabilities of the case favour the supposition that the site of both edifices was the same. That the walls of the mediaeval city were first raised in the Dark Ages by the founders of the Scandinavian kingdom of Dublin, is a point not open to controversy. The physical configuration of the rising ground to the south-east of the city walls, must at all times have suggested that eminence as the most suitable site for the guardian fortress of the city. And all authorities are agreed that a fort was erected by the Danes,1 about the middle of the ninth century, in close proximity to the walls. Thus it may well be that the battlements of the watch tower, from which King Sitric followed the varying fortunes of the fight at Clontarf, rose from the self-same spot from which for seven
p.4centuries his Majesty's Castle of Dublin has been the sentinel of royal authority in Ireland.2
But if the Danish fortress had once occupied the site, it no longer stood there in 1170, when, at the bidding of Strongbow, Myles De Cogan and his comrades first entered Dublin. It had been destroyed after the Battle of Clontarf, and no new building seems to have replaced the old in the interval that parted the exit of the Dane from the coming of the Norman. The accounts of the taking of Dublin by Strongbow's followers are silent as to any such protracted stand as must have been expected of its defenders, had a fortified citadel barred the eastern entrance to the city against the Norman knights. And there is no mention of any such stronghold in the narrative of the negotiations between Earl Richard and King Roderic O'Conor when, a few months after its capture, the city was blockaded by that monarch and his allies. When, therefore, Henry II., arriving in Dublin in November 1171, built, as Roger de Hoveden tells us, a royal palace roofed with wattles after the fashion of the country
Roger de Hoveden's Chronicle. (Rolls Series), ii. p. 32.in which to spend his Christmas, he occupied in all probability the deserted site of the dismantled Danish stronghold. Henry's palace was situate, according to the chronicler, near the Church of St. Andrew the Apostle, without the city of Dublin. As the old Church of St. Andrew stood close to the eastern corner of the modern Palace Street, hard by the entrance to what is now the Lower Castle Yard, the king must thus have fixed his quarters as nearly as possible on the actual spot on which thirty years later his son caused the Castle to be built.
Up to this point the history of the Castle, or rather of its site, rests only upon conjectures which are necessarily inconclusive. The chronicles of the first thirty years of Norman rule add nothing to our knowledge. Richard I. cared little for a country which had become the appanage
p.5of his younger brother, and there is nothing to connect the prisoner of Durrenstein with the Castle of Dublin. But with the opening of King John's reign the story can be placed on the firm basis of authentic record. An entry in the Close Roll for the year 1204 is the first extant document in which the Castle is mentioned. It contains the King's directions to his deputy or justiciary in Ireland, in response to a representation by the Viceroy of the lack of any depository for the safe custody of the royal treasure, and its most important passage runs as follows: The King to his trusty and well-beloved Meiller, the son of Henry, Justiciary of Ireland, greeting: You have represented to us that you have no place wherein treasure can be safely kept; and forasmuch as for this as well as for sundry other reasons we are in need of a strong fortress in Dublin, we desire you to cause a castle to be built in such place as you may judge to be most suitable both for the administration of justice and, if need be, for the defence of the city. You are to make it as strong as possible, with substantial fosses and strong walls. But you are first to build a tower to which a castle and keep can afterwards be conveniently added at leisure.
Close Roll, 6 John, m. 18. Printed in Historic and Municipal Documents of Ireland. (Rolls Series), p. 61.The mandate, after permitting the Justiciary to appropriate a sum of three hundred marks, then due to the Crown, to the initial expenditure on the building, directed him to require the citizens, if necessary by force, to strengthen the defences of Dublin. It may be that the establishment of a fair at Donnybrook, sanctioned by the King in the same document, was intended as a set off or compensation for the military outlay thus charged on the city.
Meiller Fitz-Henry to whom this document was addressed was at this time the representative of the Crown in Ireland. He was a first cousin in blood to the Sovereign, and had been among the most distinguished of the friends and followers of Strongbow. Indomitus domitor totius gentis Hiberniae
Cox's Hibernia Anglicana. , p. 48., so ran the concise epitaph in which his career is
p.6epitomised. Of his appearance and character, his relative Giraldus Cambrensis has left a vivid description,3 in which affectionate admiration of Fitz-Henry's valour is not unmixed with discriminating censure of his lack of discretion. No one, however, could have been better qualified to exercise the latitude left him in the royal letter as to the choice of a site for a castle intended for the defence of the capital. For the soldier whose prowess at the raising of the siege of Dublin thirty years before is commemorated by Maurice Regan as the most admirable among many exhibitions of martial valour4 must have been thoroughly acquainted with the military needs of the city. Fitz-Henry had been appointed justiciary at King John's accession in 1199, and he held the post until 1208. His tenure of authority thus lasted long enough to have enabled him, had he been expeditious, to commence the building of the Castle, though it can scarcely have permitted of his making substantial progress with the work. Most probably he confined himself to the erection of the tower which John had desired him to begin with. Though neither tradition nor record now connects the name of Meiller Fitz-Henry with any part of the actual structure, it is evident that to him belongs at least the honour of having selected the site; even though the chief fame of the actual building of the Castle is rightly assigned to another of John's justiciaries, the well-known ecclesiastic, Henri de Londres, Archbishop of Dublin.
But by whichever of King John's representatives the foundation stone was actually laid, it is plain that the building of the Castle was a matter of serious interest and concern to the Sovereign, and that to no one can the title of founder be more properly ascribed than to King John
p.7himself. The instructions to Meiller Fitz-Henry indicate the active interest of the monarch in a building with the surroundings of which his own early residence in Ireland had made him familiar. And within a very few years of these instructions the exigencies of Irish affairs gave John an opportunity of observing for himself how far his orders had been fulfilled, and of personally directing the further progress of the building. In 1210, for the first time since his accession, the King visited Dublin. There is nothing to show whether it was within the precincts of his intended fortress that the King received the submission of the Irish chiefs who attended in the capital to do him homage. But his attention must necessarily have been drawn to the desirability of pushing on the work, and it is certain that the royal visit had not long concluded before Henri de Londres was vigorously proceeding with the building.
Of the active part played by this eminent prelate and Viceroy in the construction of the Castle we get not a few glimpses in the records of his government. The State Papers show that Ware does not at all exaggerate in attributing to the Archbishop a principal share in the erection of the building, and they prove that the attention of the Archbishop was not so wholly engrossed with the constitution of the Cathedral Chapter of St. Patrick's as to leave no time to the Viceroy to superintend the building of the King's principal residence. Ware's account is that Henri de Londres caused the Castle of Dublin to be builded, some say at his own proper costs,
Ware's Annals (1705) p. 27.and he elsewhere states that the same year that Henry Londres died, being the year 1228, the Castle of Dublin was builded: I mean the walls four-square or quadrangle-wise, but the four turrets and the other afterwards.
Ware's Bishops, p. 5.The State Papers show that, on his appointment to be justiciary in 1213, the Archbishop received a patent for the custody of the King's Castle of Dublin during pleasure.5 Though no details are given of
p.8the works executed by Henri de Londres, their importance is indicated by sundry grants6 made to him in compensation for damage done to the Archbishop's churches in Dublin in fortifying the Castle;7while the completion of the walls in accordance with the tradition preserved by Ware, as well as the actual appropriation of the fortress to defensive purposes, is evidenced by an inventory of military stores kept in the building in 1224.8 The last indication of the Archbishop's interest in the Castle, which the State Papers disclose, is one more appropriate to his ecclesiastical character. There can be little doubt that the nomination, in 1225, of William de Radeclive to minister as chaplain in the King's Castle of Dublin, and to receive of the King's gift during pleasure fifty shillings yearly,
Sweetman's Calendar, 1172-1251, p. 198.was not made without the recommendation or concurrence of the masterful ruler of the see of Dublin.
Whatever the solicitude of the Archbishop in these matters may have owed to the initiative of King John, these latter proofs of it were of course given not in John's reign, but in that of his more ecclesiastically minded successor. Though Henry of Winchester found no time in his long reign for a visit to Ireland, he appears more than once to have contemplated such a journey; and several of the State Papers of his reign prove that he was far from indifferent to the becoming equipment of his only Irish residence. In 1237 the King gave elaborate directions to prepare for his coming into Ireland.9 And in 1243, while in France, where the presence in his army of a very large Irish contingent may have turned his thoughts towards his Irish dominions, King Henry wrote from Bordeaux to his Justiciary and Treasurer in Ireland, directing them that out of the King's profits they cause to be constructed in the Castle of Dublin
p.9a hall one hundred and twenty feet in length, and eighty in breadth, with glazed windows after the manner of the hall of Canterbury, and that they cause to be made in the gable beyond the dais a round window thirty feet in diameter.
Sweetman's Calendar, 1172-1251, p. 389.They were further directed to cause to be painted beyond the dais the King and Queen sitting with their baronage, and to make a great portal at the entrance of the hall; the whole to be completed by the King's arrival.
But by far the most characteristic memorials of this Sovereign's connection with the Castle are those which are associated with the chapel. The entries under this head supply fresh illustrations of the splendours of Henry's munificence to the Church, and of the sincerity of the devotion to the memory of Edward the Confessor, which marked the pious builder of Westminster Abbey. Not only were directions repeatedly given to the Archbishop of Dublin to make more suitable provision for the Castle chaplain by attaching a benefice to the office, but express instructions were given by the King as to the services to be held.10 The chapel was dedicated to the Confessor, and in 1240 the Feast of St. Edward (January 7) was ordered to be celebrated with eight hundred lighted tapers as well in the Saint's Chapel in the King's Castle of Dublin, as in the Churches of St. Thomas the Martyr and of the Holy Trinity.
Ibid. p. 373.The Castle was ordered to be filled on the same occasion with poor people, who should be fed. Two years later the Treasurer received directions to cause glass windows to be made for the chapel,11 and the King gave orders that Divine Service of St. Edward and of the Blessed Virgin should be daily celebrated. The orders regarding the chapel were perhaps carried out at once, since the piety of the King would probably have enforced them; but the hall was still unfinished in 1246, when Henry peremptorily required its completion in view of an immediate visit. The Mayor of Dublin was called on in the same year, and in view of the same occasion, to supply water to the Castle from the city conduit.12
Judged by the proper standards of kingly greatness Henry III. scarcely ranks high in the roll of English monarchs. But no other sovereign has had anything approaching either to his knowledge of architecture or to his love of it. However fortunate for the realm the change from his pious aestheticism to the vigorous authority of the great man of action who succeeded him, the archaeological interest of Dublin Castle certainly owes nothing to Henry's son. The Hammer of the Scots cared little for the sculptor's mallet. And although for at least eighteen years before his accession Edward I. had held the title of Lord of Ireland and absorbed its surplus revenues, he never found time to attend to its affairs. Thus the interest in the royal residence which Henry's care had aroused in his subordinates was naturally not exhibited by the ministers of his son. In what manner the chapel and hall so splendidly designed were ultimately erected it is now impossible to ascertain. But it seems at least clear that they were not completed according to Henry's plan. It was one of the charges brought against Stephen Fulburn, Bishop of Waterford, in 1286, that during his tenure of the office of justiciary he had carried off the pillars of marble from the King's hall in Dublin Castle to enrich Dunbrody Abbey.13 A few years earlier the building had suffered some damage and the gate tower had been burned by Hubert de Burgh, and some others who were confined in the fortress as prisoners; whilst the defences had been altogether neglected. When, therefore, a few years after the accession of Edward II. the troubles of the Bruce invasion made it necessary to look to the defences of the Castle, the building already stood in much need of repair. So imminent was the peril that it was found necessary to take down the belfry of the closely adjacent church of St. Mary le Dame to provide stones for fortifying the Castle, and the citizens of Dublin were called on to find lead for the roof of the towers.14 When the danger was over some care seems to have been taken to
p.11restore the edifice to a more seemly condition, and the considerable sum of £700 was spent on the Castle in 1321, particularly in repairing handsomely the great hall.
Close Roll, 14 Ed. II., Irish Record Office.
For fifty years from the Bruce invasion the King's Castle of Dublin received little of the attention of its royal owners; and indeed for a full century and a half from the accession of Edward III. it was 'toward Namancos and Bayona's hold' rather than to their realm of Ireland, that the looks of the English sovereigns were chiefly bent. Towards the close of his reign, however, Edward III. was able to spare time from his French enterprises to the necessities of Ireland, and to note how seriously his dominions had been shrinking at home, while he sought to extend them abroad. His son Lionel, Duke of Clarence, entered in 1361 on the viceroyalty which was made memorable by the Statute of Kilkenny. The advent of a prince of the blood royal did something to arrest the rain which was fast overtaking the monuments of Henry III.'s zeal and piety. A considerable expenditure was sanctioned for putting the Castle in order, and for restoring the chapel, and providing it with the equipment adequate to a becoming ritual.15 But the improvements of Lionel were not limited to these restorations. Not only do they seem to have included a number of alterations designed to make the dwelling more commodious, but in the language of King Edward, Clarence caused to be made divers works agreeable to him, for sports and his other pleasures, as well within the Castle of Dublin as elsewhere.
Gilbert's History of the Viceroys of Ireland, with Notices of the Castle of Dublin, pp. 219, 544-546.
It is disappointing that the records of the only sovereign prior to Victoria who ever came twice to Ireland as a reigning monarch are silent as to the visits of Richard II. to his Castle of Dublin. Neither the Roll of the Proceedings
p.12of the King's Council in Ireland for the sixteenth year of Richard's reign, nor such records as remain of that unhappy monarch's second stay in Ireland, make any direct mention of Dublin Castle, though the Council must have sat within its precincts, and though the extensive repairs ordered, as we have just seen, in the time of the King's uncle, Lionel, ought to have left the building in fair order for his residence. It is doubtful, however, whether much had been effected by Clarence. Because our Castle of Dublin through the negligence of our servants, who should have repaired the same, is so destroyed and wasted, and in many places threatened with very great ruin that our Deputy of Ireland cannot hold our great Council there, nor can he entertain our Parliament summoned for the morrow of All Souls' Day, nor can our Records be safely preserved there. So runs an entry in the Close Roll for the fourth year of Richard's reign. But though it is doubtful whether the orders issued to remedy this state of things in 1381 were more effective than those of the preceding reign, the great hall had been sufficiently renovated in 1385 to enable Sir John Stanley to be sworn in there, in presence of a distinguished company, as Deputy of Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford, Marquis of Dublin, and Duke of Ireland, who had just been appointed Lord-Lieutenant.
The records of the Lancastrian kings are as barren as those of their immediate predecessors. Their all but total silence betokens the neglect which the few stray entries that appear attest. Early in 1427 it was ordered that an ancient silver seal found in the treasury, being cancelled and of no use to the King, should be sold, and the money accruing from the sale laid out on the repairs of the ruined windows of the hall of the Castle, and five years later twenty marks were allocated to the same purpose.16 Even so much as this could not be spared in the remainder of this reign, and the dilapidations were rapidly aggravated. Down to the middle of the reign of Henry VI. the Deputy and his Council still met within the
p.13Council Chamber in the Castle. But at the conclusion of the Wars of the Roses all the interior buildings of the Castle had gone to wrack and ruin, while even the massive walls erected by Henri de Londres had begun to suffer from persistent neglect, and showed the wear and tear of over two hundred winters.17 On the accession of Edward IV. the disrepair could not longer be overlooked. An Act of Parliament, after reciting that Whereas the Castle of the King our Sovereign Lord of his City of Dublin, in which the Courts of our said Sovereign are kept, is ruinous and like to fall, to the great dishonour of our said Sovereign Lord,
Statute 2 & 3 Ed. IV. cap. 4.provided that certain moneys out of the profits of the Crown should be delivered yearly to the clerk of the works for the repair of the same. The same Act further directed that all the leads of the isles of the hall of the said Castle be sold by the Treasurer of Ireland to make and repair the said hall. This Act, however, remained inoperative until, twelve years later, a further enactment made better financial provision for the needful works. But it is doubtful whether any restoration had been effected ere, not long afterwards, considerable injury was done the Castle in the course of an insurrection promoted by the followers of the Earl of Kildare. An Act of the Irish Parliament at Trim gives as the last reference to the Castle which the statutes or records of the Plantagenet kings contain. Reciting that James Keating, Prior of Kilmainham, had fortified the Castle, of which he was constable, against the King's Viceroy, Henry Lord Grey, and the better to defend himself had destroyed the drawbridge, it directs the Prior to repair the damage before the ensuing Christmas on pain of forfeiture of his office.18
The earliest Tudor reference to Dublin Castle is to be found in the diary of the Voyage of Sir Richard Edgcumbe into Ireland in the year 1488,19 and occurs in connection
p.14with the ecclesiastic just mentioned. Keating had been among the most prominent of the Irish supporters of the pretender Lambert Simnel, the troubles arising out of whose imposture were the principal occasion of Edgcumbe's mission. Sir Richard seems to have thought, not unnaturally, that one who had twice gone into rebellion was no fit guardian for his master's principal fortress in Ireland. He accordingly refused to take either homage or fealty of Justice Plunkett and the Prior of Kilmainham, who were specially noted amongst all other chief causes of the rebellion. And although the importunities of the Earl of Kildare prevailed on Edgcumbe to pardon Keating's comrade in disloyalty, he could not be persuaded to overlook the Prior's repeated offences. At a meeting of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal held in the Church called our Lady of the Dames, in the immediate vicinity of the Castle, he answered their entreaties for mercy, according to the Chronicle, with right sharp words ... And ere that he departed unto his lodging, he took with him divers judges and other noblemen, and went into the Castle of Dublin, and there put in possession Richard Archiboll, the King's servant, into the office of the Constable of the said Castle, which the King's grace had given unto him by Letters Patent; from the which office the said Prior of Kilmainham had wrongfully kept this said Richard for the space of two years or more.20 The fact that during his stay in Ireland Edgcumbe lodged at the Monastery of the Black Friars, on the opposite side of the river, where now the Four Courts stand, and that the consultations with the Irish Council were held not in the Castle, but in the neighbouring Church of St. Mary le Dame, is eloquent of the disrepair into which the royal residence had fallen.
For nearly fifty years, from the visit of Sir Richard Edgcumbe in 1488, to the rising of Silken Thomas in 1533, the records are silent as to episodes of interest in the story of Dublin Castle. For the greater part of this period the government was in the hands of the Earls of Kildare, who
p.15were more concerned for the safety of their own strongholds in the adjacent country than for the security of the nominal seat of their government. So weak were the defences that the O'Byrnesthose continual scourges of the southern borders of the Palecould enter the Castle by night and carry off a number of prisoners.21 It was ominous of the rising that not long afterwards occurred that in 1533 the Deputy conveyed all the King's ordnance out of the Castle into his own country, and fortified all his castles and fortresses with them. What this should mean, wrote the priest who sent this intelligence to England, I know not as yet, but I think no good; for it is a shrewd likelihood.22 It proved fortunate for the safety of Dublin in the ensuing insurrection that the Deputy omitted to take away the ammunition at the same time. As John Alen, the Irish Master of the Rolls, wrote to Thomas Cromwell at a critical period of the siege by Silken Thomas, the rebel, which chiefly trusteth in his ordnance, which he hath of the King, hath in effect consumed all his shoot, and except he winneth the Castle of Dublin he is destitute of shoot, which is a great comfort and advantage for the King's Army.23
It might naturally be supposed that the formal assumption by Henry VIII. of the title of King of Ireland, and his resolution to assert the authority of the English Crown throughout the country, must have led almost of necessity to a renovation of the Castle, and a revival of the tarnished glories of the early Plantagenet age. But this was so far from being the case, that the period immediately succeeding marks perhaps, the nadir of the splendours of the Castle as a royal residence. The Tudor viceroys do not appear at any time to have taken kindly to their quarters. It is obvious from the preceding narrative that upon many occasions in its later mediaeval history the Castle can have been in no fit state to accommodate a royal or viceregal Court. Although at no time in its long annals did the Castle cease to be the centre of authority, and though in theory at least it was always
p.16regarded as the principal official dwelling of the deputies, the representatives of Henry VII. and his successor took every opportunity of residing elsewhere. The deputies of Edward VI. never lodged within its walls. Towards the close of the fifteenth century the Abbey of St. Thomas the Martyr in Thomas Court began to be used, as has been seen, for the meetings of the Viceroy and his Council. By the time of Sir Richard Edgcumbe's visit24 it had been thus used so often that the principal room had acquired the name of the King's Chamber. The dissolution of the monasteries struck a heavy blow at the prestige of King John's Castle. The Priory of Kilmainham, becoming vested in the Crown, was at once recognised as a convenient appanage of the Sovereign, and was utilised accordingly for the principal State functions. The dissolution of the Cathedral Chapter of St. Patrick's by Edward VI. provided an opportunity, which was quickly seized, to find more desirable lodgings than either Castle or Priory appears to have afforded. The Chapter having been suppressed, it was evident that the Dean had no further need of his residence. This was accordingly assigned to the Archbishop of Dublin, who was desired to evacuate the Palace of St. Sepulchre's, which became a place of lodging for the Lord Deputy. And although in a very few years this arrangement was upset, under Queen Mary, by the restoration of the Cathedral and its dignitaries to their former status, the Deputies were slow to surrender the footing they had acquired in the archiepiscopal palace. Sussex, Sidney, and others of the deputies of both Mary and Elizabeth, were so fond of coming to St. Sepulchre's that an Archbishop of Dublin, who found their visits inconvenient, is said to have actually fired his palace that the Deputies should not have so good liking to his house.25
Whether on account of this summary process of the Archbishop, or because with the final confirmation of the Cathedral in its position by Elizabeth it became difficult
p.17any longer to ignore ecclesiastical rights, the accession of Elizabeth was quickly followed by the return of the Viceroys to the Castle, and its consequent restoration to a condition of appropriate magnificence. In 1558 Sussex received directions to take in hand the repair of the Castle. But this Viceroy had been succeeded by Sir Henry Sidney before any effective steps had been taken, and it is to the latter statesman that the honour of repairing and enlarging the Castle has been properly assigned by Ware. The Castle of Dublin, which before his coming was ruinous, foul, filthy, and greatly decayed, he repaired and re-edified, and made a very fair house for the lord deputy and the chief governor to reside and dwell in.26 Such is Stanihurst's account of a restoration of which the Deputy appears to have been not a little proud. Sidney's improvements took several years to effect, and were on a considerable scale. They were crowned in the eyes of the citizens of Dublin by the putting up of a conspicuous clock, perhaps the first public clock erected in Ireland (though others were placed almost contemporaneously over the Ostman's gate and at St. Patrick's Cathedral); and in Sidney's, by a Latin inscription over the gateway, in which the restoration was suitably recorded.27 The stone containing Sidney's verses has been long since
p.18defaced and removed, though the verses themselves have been preserved for us by Stanihurst. But the letters of Strafford contain a very charming reference to them, and attest the admiration felt by the most powerful of Stuart Viceroys for the most eminent among his Tudor predecessors.28
Of the actual outward appearance of the Castle in early times it is difficult to form an accurate conception. Sir John Gilbert justly observes that no precise details have been transmitted to us of its architectural design; nor have any of the older historians or antiquaries given us, otherwise than parenthetically, any glimpse of its interior. To attempt to reconstruct the Castle from the stray references which are to be found scattered through the State Papers and other documentary sources would be an exercise of the historical imagination in which fancy must needs play a larger part than fact.29 There exists, however, one document which defines with some detail the condition of the towers of the Castle, and the accommodation provided within them, in the time of Sir John Perrot's government, or about twenty years after the extensive improvements effected by Sir Henry Sidney. From this paper, which was probably drawn up in connection with the rearrangements which Perrot designed to carry out but did not effect, a good deal may be learned as to the defences of the Castle in the reign of Elizabeth.30
The walls, described by Ware and other authorities as standing foursquare and built very strongly, had in Perrot's time a strong tower at each corner. Besides these there was a fifth, much smaller than the rest, in the middle of the south wall. The entrance gate, which opened into Castle Street, was flanked on each side by a tower less strong than the others, but of considerable proportions. The gateway, defended by a portcullis, opened on to a drawbridge which when drawn up left this building entirely cut off from the adjacent city. A moat, or gripe, which ran by the walls completely surrounded the Castle, following perhaps on the south and west walls the course of the Poddle River. Of the four principal towers, two, the north-east and south-west, seem to have contained five rooms each. The south-east and north-west towers had each three rooms, and in the middle tower on the south side there were a like number. The gate towers contained but two rooms each. The towers do not seem to have been very well lighted. There were several rooms with no windows other than the spicks, or loopholes, intended for defensive purposes. The north-east tower in which the Deputy seems to have had his private rooms, was the only room in which the windows were at all numerous. There were at least eight windows among the five rooms in this tower. But in the south-east tower there were no more than two. On the other hand spicks were fairly numerous, and the total of the windows and spicks in the whole Castle was at that time above fourscore.31
But Sidney's improvements, though they were evidently considerable, and seem to have provided the actual official accommodation which sufficed for the Viceroys for above a century from his time, do not seem to have remedied the most serious inconveniences of the building. By the end of Elizabeth's reign matters were nearly as bad as they had been before his time. When Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, in an unhappy moment for himself, was designated Viceroy, directions were given to prepare the Castle for the
p.20fitting reception of one whom the Queen, at that time, still delighted to honour. But considerable difficulty was experienced in providing becoming accommodation. The truth is that the Castle at this time was utilised for several purposes of public utility little consonant with the amenities of a viceregal residence.
It has been justly remarked by Walter Harris, in the excellent account of the Castle with which his History of Dublin opens, that the building is to be considered in a threefold aspect: as a fortress erected for the defence of the city; as the royal seat of Government; and as the place where the courts of justice and High Court of Parliament were wont to be held. But this description of the triple function served by the Castle down to Tudor and even Stuart times is far from exhaustive. Within its precincts room was found in addition for the Exchequer and Treasury of Ireland, and for the Mint of Dublin, as well as for the State records of which the Castle so long remained the principal, if not the sole, depository. And it further served the purpose, more easily associated with a feudal fortress, of a prison for offenders against the State.32 However successful Sidney may have been in providing actual house accommodation, he had been unable to make any fundamental alterations in the structure. His work was a restoration in the strict sense of the term. Even in the reign of James I. , forty years after Sidney's improvements, the great exterior walls and towers erected by Henri de Londres still preserved their original appearance. An accurate observer, in that reign noted that the circuit of the Castle was a huge and mighty wall, foursquare and of incredible thickness,33 which dated from King John's time. In Sidney's day, as we learn from the grimly realistic plates in Derricke's Image of Ireland, the battlements were still garnished with the grinning heads of decapitated chieftains. And the gaol, known as the Grate, was thoroughly insanitary. A prisoner's recollections of his place of confinement are of
p.21course apt to be coloured by ineffaceable resentment; but there is no reason to question the substantial accuracy of the description given of the Grate by Dr. Creagh, the Roman Catholic Primate, who was confined there in 1564. The prison, according to this authority, was a hole where, without candle, there is no light in the world, and with candle (when I had it) it was so filled with smoke thereof, chiefly in summer, that had there not been a little hole in the next door to draw in breath with, my mouth set upon it, I had been perhaps shortly undone.
Spicilegium Ossoriense, i. p. 49.After Sidney's time Perrot was authorised, in 1583, to remove both the courts of law and the prison from the Castle, but he seems to have found it impossible to procure the necessary accommodation elsewhere.34 And the same difficulty was experienced in the time of Essex. It is not surprising therefore to find the Castle described in 1607 as somewhat noisome in the summer time by reason of the prison.35 Constant representations were made by the Deputies as to this unpleasantness, and also as to the danger caused to the courts of law, which had been restored to the Castle under Sidney, by reason of these being situate immediately above the store of ammunition; and a very serious explosion of gunpowder which occurred on the adjacent quay in 1596 caused great and general alarm. In 1610, as appears by the surveyor's accounts at the Irish Record Office, a summer house was built in the gardens and the great hall repaired against a marriage feast, held in January of that year. It was not, however, until 1611 that Sir Arthur Chichester, the vigorous Deputy of James I., procured the erection of an exterior gaol for ordinary criminals, the principal State offenders being still confined in the Castle, but separated from the Deputy's lodging. Through the instrumentality of the same Deputy the courts were removed about the same time. But the Castle still remained the of the meetings of Parliament. In 1613 the Hall
p.22was fitted up for the meeting of the two Houses.36 But although the Castle was put in order again for the benefit of Sir George Carew, who came over to report on the state of affairs in Ireland in 1611, no real improvement was effected, in spite of an expenditure of 600£. Chichester after several vain attempts to procure an improvement in the domestic accommodationthe mending of holes in the roof in Lady Chichester's bedchamber is one of the items in an account of expenditure by Samuel Molyneux, Clerk-General of the Works in 1616had declined any longer to reside within the precincts, and had taken up his abode in the recently built Cary's Hospital, which later gave place to the Parliament House.
The next to take in hand the work of restoration was the Deputy Falkland, father of the gallant Lucius Cary. In 1620 this Viceroy apprised the Council that of late part of the Castle and the roof of the Council Chamber and several lodgings over it37 had fallen to the ground. Four years later, on May 1, in the morning, a day of great expectation of a universal massacre, one of the two greatest towers of the Castle fell down to the ground, with the ordnance mounted on it, and shook to its foundations a great part of the wall. Falkland succeeded in getting authority to carry out repairs, and an expenditure of 1,000£ was sanctioned to restore the tower. His reforms were considerable.38 In a letter to his successor, Strafford, he takes full credit for them, calling on Strafford for the performance of your promise you made me that when you found how much less a prison the Castle was through the benefit of a gallery I built, not more for the King's honour than for your ease and delight, you would acknowledge that you did owe my act commendation and due thanks for the service.39
p.23Of this gallery a picturesque description survives in the Travels of Sir William Brereton, whose diary of a visit to Dublin in 1635 supplies one of the few detailed notices of the appearance and accommodation of the Castle in early Stuart times which remain extant.40
Strafford, however, does not seem to have been so much impressed as Falkland expected. In one of his earliest letters from Dublin he described the building as in great decay, and urgently calling for repair. One of the groat towers had to be taken down, lest it should fall, as another had done shortly before Strafford's arrival, while Lord Chancellor Loftus was in residence as a Lord Justice; four or five of whose grandchildren it would have infallibly killed, had it fallen either an hour sooner or an hour later. In a vigorous representation to the English Council of the pressing need for repair and improvement Strafford draws for us the most detailed picture we possess of the interior of the Castle precincts at this time:I have bought as much more ground about the Castle as costs one hundred and fifty pounds, out of which I will provide the House of a Garden and out Courts, for fuel and such other necessaries belonging to a family, whereof I am altogether unprovided, the bake house at present being just under the room where I now write, and the wood rack put full before the gallery windows; which I take not to be so courtly nor to suit so well with the dignity of a King's deputy; and thus I trust to make this habitation easeful and pleasant as the place will afford. Whereas now by my faith it is little better than a very prison.41
Of the alterations made by Strafford no record is known to remain, and for nearly half a century little information is available from English sources. For though Arthur Capel, Earl of Essex, who was Viceroy for several years, seems to have made important alterations, nothing is known of their extent. It is curious that for such contemporary as are extant of the appearance of the Castle from
p.24the Rebellion of 1641 to the Revolution of 1688 we are indebted mainly to foreign observers. From these, however, it would seem that at least an outward show of splendour was maintained, and that in appearance and equipment the Castle was not unworthy. Boullaye le Gouz, who was received at the Castle in 1644 during the first Viceroyalty of the great Duke, then Marquis, of Ormond, describes the Castle as indifferently strong, without any outworks, and pretty well furnished with guns of cast metal;42 and though he does not describe the interior, it may be inferred from the magnificence of the ceremonial displayed by the Viceroy in going to St. Patrick's on a Sunday, that the decorations were sufficiently sumptuous. Another Frenchman, Jorevin de Rocheford, who was a visitor at the Court of the same Viceroy a few years after the Restoration, gives more positive evidence to the like effect:The Castle, he wrote, is strong, enclosed by thick walls, and by many round towers that command the whole town; on them are mounted a good number of cannon. The court is small, but the lodgings although very ancient are very handsome, and worthy of being the dwelling of a Viceroy.43 A few years after this judgment was passed, the interest of the Castle as a relic of the Middle Ages suffered the most serious blow that had yet befallen it. In April 1684, while Lord Arran was in residence as Deputy for his father the Duke of Ormond, an alarming fire occurred, which only the promptitude of Arran prevented from ending in the destruction of the whole building. The fire broke out at two in the morning in Lord Arran's dining-room, and raged for three hours. To prevent the fire from reaching the powder magazine, Lord Arran, who acted with great personal vigour and courage, and subsequently received the thanks of the city and corporation for his exertions,44 was obliged to blow up the long gallery built by Falkland communicating with the north-east tower. The damage done on this occasion has been graphically described in a letter from Sir Patrick
p.25Dun to Doctor, afterwards Archbishop, King. The dining room, he says, was burnt and blown up, the new building, built by the Earl of Essex, my lord's closet and the long gallery, and all betwixt the new building and the tower on which the clock stood.45 Arran, thus burnt out of the Castle, took refuge in the recently acquired King's House at Chapelizod. Possibly it was by the existence of this alternative that the Treasury justified their refusal to expend money on the repair of the Castle. For there seems to have been an intention at the time to abandon the Castle as a residence. His Majesty has lost nothing (so wrote Arran to the King) but six barrels of powder, and the worst Castle in the worst situation in Christendom. The Duke of Ormond, however, lost effects to the value of 10,000£.46 It was proposed to build a palace elsewhere, perhaps on the site of Ormond's intended mansion where now the Royal Barracks stand, and a King's letter authorising the sale of the site and materials of the Castle was actually drafted.47 Two years after the fire little or nothing had been done to make good the damage. As for the Castle, wrote Ormond's successor in 1686, I can only tell you that as it is the worst lodging a gentleman ever lay in, so it will cost more to keep it in repair than any other. Never comes a shower of rain but it breaks into the house, so that there is a perpetual tiling and glazing. No gentleman in Pall Mall, added Clarendon, was worse lodged than he was.48
To continue the history of Dublin Castle beyond the date at which the building ceased to be a castle in any real sense of the term would hardly be found of much interest. Down to the Restoration the Castle had continued to be, as truly as in King John's time, the citadel of a metropolis which still presented many of the characteristics of a mediaeval town. Situate at the south-eastern corner of the walls of Dublin, at
p.26the top of the rising ground which commanded the seaward approaches to the city, it occupied for military purposes the point of vantage in any attack which could be attempted. As late as the middle of the seventeenth century the low-lying land to the east of College Green was almost entirely unbuilt on, save for so much of it as was occupied by the precincts of Trinity College, and the population resided almost exclusively either within the city walls or in the southern districts comprised within the parishes adjacent to St. Patrick's Cathedral. During the struggles of Ormond to maintain the royal authority in Ireland, and again during the Cromwellian occupation, the Castle still remained the military key of Dublin. But with the Restoration all this was changed. The metropolis rapidly expanded, and the Castle, no longer overlooking the sea, as it had done a generation earlier when Falkland could descry from it the appearance of two Spanish ships of war in the bay of Dublin,49 became shut in on all sides, so that its defensive value to the inhabitants against the attack of an invader became insignificant. When James II. came to Dublin the Castle was hurriedly fitted up by Tyrconnel for his reception, but no care whatever was spent on the defences of the building. These had indeed been pronounced worthless very shortly before by the Master-General of the Ordnance, who, in recommending the erection of a citadel on the hills of St. Stephen's Green, described the condition of the ancient fortress as being all in rubbish by the late fire,50 and incapable in any event of securing his Majesty's stores of war without danger of destruction from fire, through being so pestered up with houses that the approaches to it were entirely blocked up.
Worthless as a fortress, and undesirable as a residence, the Castle, from the departure of James II., ceased to be of any service save as the seat of the principal public offices. Of the Viceroys of William III. none took the trouble to reside for any time in Ireland, and some never came over to
p.27their government. The Lords Justices who governed in their behalf preferred the rustic surroundings of the King's House at Chapelizod to the dismal interior of the half-mined edifice whose glories had departed. In Queen Anne's reign, under the administration of the second Duke of Ormond, some attempt was made to improve the approaches to the Castle. In 1711 the destruction by fire of the Council Chamber necessitated a consideration of the whole question of the adequacy of the existing accommodation for the public departments connected with the Castle. This was the beginning of radical structural alterations, which, extending through a period of above a century, only closed with the erection of the present Castle chapel in 1814 by the Duke of Richmond. In the course of these alterations the King's principal residence in Ireland was entirely transformed from a mediaeval structure into the unimposing group of modern buildings which it now presents.51