Rock of Dunamase – Ruins with a Great View

What a great place to build a fortress.   Standing high on top of a limestone cliff,  this once imposing castle still dominates the landscape.

There are a few gaps in its history but this was definitely the location of an early Christian settlement known as Dún Másc (meaning ‘the Fort of Masc ‘- Masc presumably being a local chieftain in the area).

The settlement was plundered by Vikings in 843 AD.

The Normans arrived in the 12th century.    The King of Leinster (Diarmuid Mac Murrough)  gave his daughter Aoife in marriage to the Norman conqueror Strongbow in 1170 and the Dún was included in her dowry.

The Normans fortified the rock with a great hall at the top of the hill and inner and outer defenses.

It passed through various families until it was destroyed during the Cromwellian invasion in 1650.

An effort was made in the late 1700’s to redevelop the site but once again it fell into decay.  Indeed,  it is a tribute to the original builders that there is anything at all left today.  The site is now a national monument and in state care.     Despite its ruinous state,  you can still get a sense of its onetime grandeur and of course there’s always those magnificent views!












The castle probably wasn’t built for its views but they did an ok job with those windows!







There’s an impressive panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.





We had the place to ourselves,  apart from some crows and two girls from Utah who were touring Ireland.



The lovely church below at the car park is the Holy Trinity Church of Ireland.  It was built in the 1860’s and is still in use.







Other Stuff

Getting There


From Dublin, its about 90km (allow 1hr .15 min).   Take the M7 south to Exit 16.   There are signs for the rock around Portlaoise.   As you approach,  its easily visible from the road.




Unsupervised parking at the entrance

Toilet Facilities:

There are no facilities at the site.


The location was used in the 2010 movie ‘Leap Year’ starring Amy Adams.





8 thoughts on “Rock of Dunamase – Ruins with a Great View

    1. It was stunning. I must admit, we’ve traveled that motorway hundreds of times over the years and last weekend was the first time we pulled in to visit the rock. So I’ve a new belated 2019 resolution to start paying more attention to road signs in my own county!!

      1. It is stunning for sure, the pictures are a witness tot that.
        😃 A belated resolution sounds good. Happy exploring such place es around you. I look forward to see more such picturesque places through your blog😊

  1. dear Marie. My Dad, from Stradbally, grew up with the rock as a playground. He regailed stories to us of all that you describe. Well doine you for sharing.

  2. Gosh Teresa – Some playground! Can’t believe we never visited before now – must go again in summer – although it was amazing in the snow!

  3. What a lovely way to spend a snowy day Marie! Spectacular views. Love the pic of you and Tomo!

    1. It was taken by a girl from Utah – herself and her friend visiting Ireland and en route from Cork to Dublin. Really made me determined to explore my own country a bit more!!

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