There are plenty of places in Ireland it is advisable to avoid when the weather turns to drizzle and fog, but the Rock of Dunamase is not one of those places. If anything, a good dusting of drizzle and a liberal swathe of fog adds a delicate ethereal touch to these captivating ruins.
It’s not far off the main road from Carlow to Portlaoise, and the loop that takes you from the small roadside car park to the summit and back again is a short and easy climb that you could easily complete in just a handful of minutes, but something tells me the magic of this place will lead you astray and you’ll find yourself wandering through the ruins in an enchanted reverie.
This site may have been a place of importance as far back as the 2nd century when Greek cartographer Ptolemy drew a map of Ireland and marked a site of note named Dunum in this area. In later years a Celtic castle that sat atop this rocky outcrop was invaded by the Vikings in 843AD. In 1250AD the King of Leinster, Dermott MacMurrough, built a great stone castle here which passed through marriage to the Norman invador Strongbow. Strongbow developed the castle into an imposing fortification, the ruins of which are still standing today. It wasn’t until the Cromwellian invasion of 1650 that these great old structures were destroyed.
While the true history of this place may be one of fierce battles and invasions, the ruins themselves are some of the most romantic I’ve visited, conjuring up images of secret trysts and whispered sweet nothings, of ancient Irish counterparts to Mr Rochester, Heathcliff and Mr Darcy. Winding my way up the shallow incline, I passed under an imposing Barbican gate…
…past ivy-clad walls gently crumbling away, stopping every so often to peep through nooks and crannies and windows in the ruin walls that offered tantalizing glimpses of the foggy countryside below and the small granite church standing guard at the base of the hill.
Rain streaked across my camera lens but did nothing to dull the vibrant greens of the soft blanket of moss and ferns that decked the rocks on either side of the trail, glowing almost neon bright in the foggy haze.
At the top, chinks and cracks and gaps presented themselves, begging to be explored…
…and of course, I obliged, clambering through and over and up and under every square inch of the ruin, beads of rain glistening from every surface and the mist swirling in great eddies around the edges of the castle.
The view from the summit was nothing short of breathtaking.
Leaving filled me with a vague sense of wistfulness, as I suspect it has many others who have gone before me. It is somewhere I feel bound to return to, and it is somewhere I hope you get to visit for yourself someday soon.
Interesting place to get lost in …
I thoroughly enjoyed getting lost in those ruins 🙂
I would love to go back to Ireland.
There’s so much to see, Francesca, come back for sure!
Can you imagine the history of that place. I would love to get to Ireland some day.
Ooh I hope you get to visit soon, Carly. xxx
Very pretty photos! Lovely setting with the Irish fog.
There’s something about fog that adds an element of intimacy to a place, I felt like I was the only person for miles around, even though there were other people visiting the rock that day too.
Romantic thought for sure.
Love the composition of the photo of the church through the arch, Ailsa.
The church looked so serene sitting there at the bottom of the hill. It actually reminded me of a photograph I took quite a long time ago through a hole in the walls of a castle in Cesky Krumlov. xxx
I just got back from Ireland – there are so many historic ruins (and lots of weather to enjoy them in)! I love the colours in your mossy fern photo…
Haha I love it, Eliza, you speak the truth, there is always LOTS of weather in Ireland! I hope you had a good time while you were here. xxx
It reminds me on my birth country and the castles nearby my birth town. You should love them – Cachtice, Povazsky hrad, Trencin’ s castle
Oh wow, Majka, just the sound of those names sent a bolt of electricity through me, they sound amazing. Slovakia, isn’t it? What is your birth town? I shall have to start planning a visit. So many places to see! 🙂
Yes it’s Slovakia ☺ My birth town is Trencin and you can check some of my photos here:
or search for “history” or “trencin” on my blog. I hope you can visit these places in the future. Have a blessed weekend!
Another magical place, you’ve discovered for us. My absolute favorite pics is the 3rd one from top, with the ruins as a frame for the church below. Very sweet.
It’s such a lovely spot, Annette, a place for dreamers. 🙂 Just saw your stunning autumn photos, those colours are so vibrant.
Thanks for stopping by, Ailsa.
Lovely piece. I was with you every step of the way. I was the one smelling like wet dog!
The best smell in the world, Melissa 🙂
Increԁible story there. What happened afteг? Thanks!
It looks exactly the place to stir up thoughts of derring doings and the like Ailsa 😉
Love the way it’s not at all *manicured … tufty grass .. slabs of castle ruins and Irish soft mist … perfect .
It was perfectly imperfect, poppy, anything manicured would have looked right out of place. 🙂
Your creative photos and description illustrate very well how this magical place can fire up the imagination!
Thanks Marilyn, it was such a romantic atmosphere, certainly got me all aflutter. 🙂