Dublin Castle is situated in the very heart of historic Dublin. For more than 700 years, from 1200 until the formation of the Irish Republic in 1921, it was the centre of the English colonial administration in Ireland. A sprawling complex of historic buildings from between 930 and 1830, it offers a unique crash course in Irish history.
Dublin Castle's History
In 930, the Vikings built fortifications at the junction of the River Liffey and its tributary, the now underground River Poddle. The site was called Dubh Linn in Gaelic (pronounced Dub Lin), which means Black Water.
When the Normans invaded Dublin in 1169, they picked Dublin Castle as their stronghold. The first 'castle' in the proper sense of the word - stone walls and ditches - was completed by the English in 1230. The Great Courtyard of today corresponds closely with these fortifications, with the Record Tower as the last intact medieval tower of Dublin. The tower served as a high security prison in Tudor times.
Dublin Castle was the dungeon for state prisoners and the seat of Parliament, which met in the Great Hall before the hall burnt down in the great fire of 1684 and Parliament moved to College Green in 1731. The Courts of Law and the Court of Exchequer also met at Dublin Castle. The Castle further housed the repository of the Royal Treasury and the Royal Mint, army and police barracks, armaments factories and weapons stores.
As a symbol of English reign, Dublin Castle was a key target during the Easter Rising of 1916, which marked the first step towards the end of British rule in Ireland. One of the first fatalities of the Rising was a policeman named O'Brien, who attempted to shut the Castle's Cork Hill Gate on an advancing rebel party. Captain Séan Connolly who fired the shot was killed by army snipers located on the roof of Bedford Tower when he attempted to raise the rebel flag on adjacent City Hall.
Dublin Castle Opening Times
You are free to wander around Dublin Castle, but if you like to take a peek inside some of the more splendid buildings you will need to join a guided tour. Tours are held Mondays to Friday between 10:00 and 16:45 and Saturdays and Sundays from 14:00-16:45.
Dublin Castle Prices
A Guided tour taking in the State Apartments, Undercroft and Chapel Royal costs €4.50 for Adults and €2.00 for Children under 12.
Chester Beatty Library
The Chester Beatty Library on the ground of Dublin Castle is renowned for its outstanding collection of Asian and Middle Eastern art. The Library's collection includes manuscripts, prints, icons, miniature paintings, early printed books and objects d'art from Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. Entry to the CBL is free. Opening times are Tue-Friday from 10-17, sat 11-17 and Sun 13-17. From May-September, the library also opens on Mondays from 10-17.
The museum of the Irish police force, the Garda, is located in the 13th century Record Tower. Entry is free. Opening times are Monday to Friday from 9:30-16:30.
The Revenue Museum is situated in the Crypt of the Chapel Royal. The museum focuses on smuggling, taxes and duties in Ireland through the centuries. Entry is free. Opening times are Monday to Friday from 9:00-16:00.
Getting To Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle can be reached by an easy 10 minute walk from Temple Bar or Grafton Street. Dublin Bus routes 77/77A, 56A and 49 from Eden Quay and the 123 from O'Connell Street all stop at Dublin Castle's Palace Street Gate.