Ardee Castle - Ardee

This castle underlines the ubiquity and adaptability of the Tower House form in late medieval Ireland (see Roodstown Castle for general details on this type of castle). For Tower Houses were built not only in the countryside but also in medieval towns. In urban settings, the Tower House usually sheds its surrounding bawn[*1], no doubt because of the pressures of space but probably also because of the presence of the communal 'town defences'. None the less, a recurrent feature of such tower houses is their strategic placing within the urban landscape. This suggests that many of them were sited not just to be imposing residences but also to contribute to communal defence.

' The Courthouse' is a splendid example of this duality in the role of the urban Tower House. Strategically placed at the junction of the main north-south street with the side street leadings towards Kells, it functioned not only as an imposing building but also as a key-point in the collective defence of the town.

In this regard, Wright's drawing of 'the Town-Castle of Atherdee', as he styles it, show nothing of the castle's strategic placing (Louthiana, Bk. II, Plate XVII-XVIII). His only observation on it is equally off-beam, and is one of the few human asides in the whole work: 'here we found a poor old grey headed man, imprisoned for a Debt of six English Shillings, whom we released' (Bk. II, contents page).

[*1] See

Roodstown Castle

for a definition of the term 'bawn'

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