Border trouble between O’Connor of Offaly and the Birminghams of Carbury (KD008-001002-) in 1540 produced the suggestion that a castle at Castlejordan and another at Kynafad would reduce the opportunities for O’Connor to enter the Pale (Devitt 1896-9, 108). When counties Laois and Offaly were planted under Queen Mary, Philipstown now called Daingean, was established as the principal strongpoint of the new King’s County in the 1550s. Phillipstown’s principal communications would have been with Trim, Co. Meath, by an overland route that passed through Castlejordan. The bridge (ME052-006----) is 60m to the E and this structure could have been built to protect it, although there is no documentation that can be associated with its construction. In 1601 it is recorded that ‘the ward of Castlejordan’ resisted an assault by Sir Rurke Burke (Cal. Carew Docs, 4, 41). According to the Civil Survey (1654-6) the part of Castlejordan parish in county Meath, amounting to almost 400 acres, was owned by Sir John Giffard in 1640, and on the property at Castle Jordane was ‘one castle and two mills’ (Simington 1940, 190-1), but the castle is more likely to be the tower house (ME052-005----), which is c. 60m to the SW.
This house is situated in the valley of the Castlejordan River with a NNE-SSW section of the stream c. 50m to the SE. It is also located c. 1km N of where the Castlejordan River meets the W-E Yellow River, which is a tributary of the River Boyne and forms the boundary with County Offaly. The mound (ME052-002----) is c. 240m to the WSW and the site of the parish church (ME052-003----) is c. 130m to the WNW.
This structure has a rhomboid or diamond-shaped ground plan (ext. dims c. 9m E-W; c. 8m N-S) with a circular stairs tower (ext. diam. c. 4m; int. diam. 1.55m) at the obtuse NW angle and a similar tower (int. diam. 2.6m; ext. diam. c. 4.5m) with five gun-loops on the ground floor at the obtuse SE angle, but the NE angle is acute (60 degrees). This structure most resembles Ireton’s Castle (TN003-001001-) at Lehinch, Co. Tipperary, and probably dates from the late sixteenth century. The original doorway is not identified, but was probably on the S or W walls, which are now largely destroyed at ground level. The ground floor of the main structure (int. dims 6.9m E-W; 6.2m N-S) has three surviving gun-loops and there is a fireplace in the E wall, but there are no windows and there is no barrel-vault. The first floor has at least two small rectangular windows and three gun-loops cover the NE angle, but the SE tower has three gun-loops and its doorway had a wooden lintel. There is a fireplace on the S wall and the SW angle is supported on a squinch over the ground floor. The joists for the first floor seem to have been set directly into the walls, and there is evidence of a second floor in the E tower, floored in a similar manner. The stairs continue to rise in the W tower, but the battlements do not survive and the structure is overgrown with ivy.
Extending WSW from the fortified house is a bawn wall (L c. 40m; T 1.2m; H c. 4m), overgrown with ivy and with some breaks, probably where dressed stone has been removed from embrasures. The tower house (ME052-005----) is c. 60m to the SW of the fortified house and may have occupied the SW angle of the bawn, but no traces of the bawn wall are associated with it and a later walled garden (dims c. 75m ENE-WSW; c. 35m NNW-SSE) occupies much of the area of the bawn.
The above description is derived from the published 'Archaeological Inventory of County Meath' (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1987). In certain instances the entries have been revised and updated in the light of recent research.
Compiled by: Michael Moore
Date of revision: 15 August 2016Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.