Termonfeckin - Tower Houses

The small sleepy village of Termonfeckin belies its origins as an important early monastic site. According to tradition, it was founded by St. Fechin of Fore in AD 665 and the discerning antiquarian will find a myriad of remains connected with its ecclesiastical history - an intact high cross, the base of a second cross, an inscribed cross-slab, the sites of two early churches, two holy wells, a souterrain (see Donaghmore for general details on souterrains), and the site of a monastery of Arroasian canons founded in the 1140s (for further details on these monuments, see Buckley and Sweetman 1991).

After the Anglo-Norman colonization of Louth in the late 12th century, Termonfeckin evolved into a medieval borough.[*1] While little is known of its layout and size, it was sufficiently important to have possessed a parish church (on the site of the present Church of Ireland) and two castles. Both of these appear to have been Tower Houses (see Roodstown Castle for general details on this type of castle). Only one of these Tower Houses survives today, but when Thomas Wright visited Termonfeckin in the 1740s both of them were standing. Possibly because of its associations with the famous Archbishop Ussher, Wright chose to record only one of these castles (Louthiana, Book II, Plate XIX-XX).

The surviving tower house (see isometric view) stands at the eastern edge of the village. It is a three storey rectangular building which originally had projecting towers on its N and S angles. However, it has been the subject of major alterations at some time in its history, particularly on the ground storey. These alterations are possibly the work of one Captain Brabazon who is documented as having 'repaired' the castles in Termonfeckin in 1641 (Harbison 1970, 166). The castle's major architectural feature is the very fine stone-built vault which spans the 2nd storey. This employs the same building technique - corbelling - as the roof of the prehistoric passage tomb at Newgrange, which lies only 15km to the south-west. While it is tempting to speculate about 'connections' between these two monuments, it is best to put down the occurrence of corbelling to co-incidence rather than 'continuity'.

previousPrevious - Ardee - Roodstown Castle
Next - Ardee Castle - Ardeenext