Dunsandle Castle and Woods

Dunsandle Castle and Woods, Athenry: Address, Phone Number, Dunsandle Castle and Woods Reviews: 4/5

Dunsandle Castle and Woods
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10 reviews
Very good

Patrick O
1 contribution
A Hidden Gem deep in the woods
May 2021
Though closed on our visit, it was possible to get close to Dunsandle Castle. Built in the 15th or 16th century for a wealthy landowner, it fell into the hands of De Burgos and later Dalys, both huge landowners in East Galway in their day. Close by also is Dunsandle House which we assume was a sister property, perhaps at a later time. Now covered by ivy, it belies the vast wealth and partying that would have existed in the day.
Difficult to find (53.245, -8.646 or try Google Maps), the castle is a gem and bears resemblances to many of its contemporaries in East Galway - what with its battered base, mullioned windows and vertical slits. The entrance also probably boasted a metal portcullis as a protection against invaders.
The grounds show evidence of fairly recent use for pre- Christmas entertainment for children with a Santa Grotto a short distance away. Also evident is a cabin which served as toilets for the large number of visitors who would have attended on those occasions. And almost overgrown by the grass, running along by the walkway, are neon lights which were probably powered by a generator when needed.
Though nobody was home when we called it was possible to get some nice pictures of this fine edifice. Hopefully we will return if/when it reopens. This is well worth a visit and one can also take in a lovely walk in the peaceful woods. It is only a few minutes drive from the Kiltulla Plaza (Junction 16) on the M6.
Written May 15, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Four Points Travel
League City, TX120 contributions
Magical place! Well worth the side trip
Mar 2019 • Family
We stopped in here on a trip from Dublin to Clare with our five year old. This was the first castle that he saw in Ireland and it was PERFECT! He played on the grounds and we walked around at our leisure for hours with the place all to ourselves. It is not easy to find, so feel free to ask the locals, we did! With the standard Irish charm and hospitality we were directed where to go, the sign was nearly down so we got lucky and found where to park. After a short walk down a well laid path we were there, transported to another time through the imagination of a child.
Take the time to get off the beaten path in Ireland, you will find magical places just like this that make your trip special.
Written June 2, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Lisa C
Delafield, Wisconsin, United States61 contributions
Jul 2013 • Family
Jjst for everyones information, This castle is closed until 2014. The website states it will open after December 2013.
Written July 1, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Athenry, Ireland291 contributions
Dunsandle castle
Aug 2012 • Couples
As part of Heritage Week this castle & woods are open to the public for free so we went to check it out. It was a great experience & well worth a visit. Its wonderful that it has been restored & a lovley german girl showed us around. Thank you to the family that own this castle - its an historic gem.
Written August 25, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Galway, Ireland26 contributions
Fantastic Family Day out
May 2012
I visited there on a day when they were having the most amazing medieval festival that was so carefully put together by the organisers. The atmosphere around the castle with puppet shows from Yourman Puppets and Sword fighting displays from Eireannedge just two of the many many people there - swept everyone back in time the sounds of the clashing swords..the smell of the fire and food was simply amazing .....the Castle is situated outside Craughwell in the middle of a wood adding to the atmosphere - the inside of the castle has been kept in very very good condition and the tour guides are excellent as asking any questions people ask them...there were loads of families sitting on the grass around the castle having a picnic .......10/10 .
Written July 28, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Galway, Ireland17 contributions
In the middle of nowhere
Unless you go via the new motor way its a difficult place to find. Recent years Santa comes here. Its a fine castle and deserves to be saved. Great views from the top
Written January 3, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

florida102 contributions
Feb 2011
Our visit to Dunsandle Castle was a very interesting and exciting visit back to a time in Ireland's history when these Anglo Norman castles were houses for the land owners. My husband and I, and another couple, were staying in Galway for two nights and wanted to learn about the numerous stone structures we saw which dot the landscape. Our guide, Malcolm, told us about the history, how the families lived and explained many details of the living conditions of the time. We all walked away with a much better sense of life as it was and the struggles the families went through. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit!
Written March 6, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Galway, Ireland40 contributions
Santa in Dunsandle - 5/5!
We're just home from visiting Santa at Dunsandle Castle and it was a great experience. We had three kids - 14, 9 & 7 - and they all agreed that it was brilliant. We were met by name in the carpark, and led on a lit-up forest trail under the stars to the castle where Mrs. Claus was waiting for us all. There was mulled wine and home-made fudge for the adults and sweets, Santa hats and songs & stories for the children. After that, we all climbed the narrow winding stone stairwell to the top of the castle to meet Santa. Again, a very organised and well-run operation with a very friendly (if a little unprepared at times) Santa. After that, we were all brought to the arts and crafts room where the children got to paint and make cards.
The whole operation was very well run and all we met were extremely friendly and welcoming. Highly recommended!
Written December 18, 2009
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Galway Ireland96 contributions
Dunsandle Castle leaves you with a sense of wonder
Restored over a ten year period, under the direction of renowned architect, David Newman Johnson, Dunsandle Castle is a little known treasure that is waiting to be discovered. From the minute I wound my way through the ancient woodland I knew that I was in for something entirely special and unique. My fourteen year son, initially a reluctant companion, followed behind me as we walked along a rustic tree lined pathway that leads from the parking lot to the castle proper. This can be a spiritual moment, at least it was for me, as I paused to comment that the only sound to be heard was the rustle of leaves in the enormous beech trees. The light is fantastic.

Sabine, the tour guide, whose enthusiasm was catching, met us at the door like long lost relatives who journeyed there in an attempt to rediscover our roots. The
Castle lacks any commercial feel to it. There are no trinkets for sale, nothing to detract from the raw history that Dunsandle exudes. For a nominal fee, we were invited to enter a forgotten world, one that is presented in an honest and, I might add, challenging fashion at times.
Built in the 15th century by the de Burgo family, the walls are five feet thick. For some strange reason the entire building reminded me of an Escher print, with its tiny alcoves and rooms branching off in all directions. The characteristics of a castle built in this period are complete and authentic. We began our tour in the Cellar Room, where it is believed cattle were sheltered at night, to ward off the likelihood of theft. Sabine told us that as the cattle were the only currency back then, that men would rather kil their wives than the treasured livestock. Lime washed walls bring some light into the building now, an arduous process that took the staff many hours to aply and three days to dry, fair weather permitting. The Murder Hall, just inside the main door, deterred unwanted visitors, as arrows rang down on them from the Murder Hole overhead. The Garderobe (the toilet) is where clothes were hung up, to take advantage of the ammonia in the air. Ammonia was vital in the eradication of body lice and moths that favoured and often destroyed the few garments the residents possessed. The Groin Vault is what ties the building together and is a unique feature to Irish Castles. Again, this room is beautifully restored and has a tactile quality to it. It felt like I was standing inside a huge beehive! A wood stove glowed with turf and was a welcome feature in the room. I also noticed how my son was actually having a wonderful time, asking all kinds of questions, and not a computer screen or console in sight.

We reached the piece de resistance at the top of the Castle. According to the guide, the usual term Great Hall is not appropriate here, as there was nothing glamorous or comfortable about life in this room. The family slept on the floor and lit a fire in the centre of the room. Today, wood crackles in yet another stove. A green oak ceiling, based on a similar one in Dunshaughlin Castle is stunning and has been created with the use of a single nail.

It is here too that you will be surprised to discover the Oubliette. From the French, Oublier, to forget, this chamber is also referred to as ''the place of the forgotten''/ This area of the Castle remains a mystery to date. It is a chilling experience to peer down into the dark, dungeon-like quarters, where, it is speculated that family members who were thought to be suffering from mental challenges were banished once their designated daily chores were complete. Another possibility is that the chamber was used to hold hostages for ransom. A hive of bees have claimed the Oubliette at present, so it is not permissible to enter the area. I don't think I would have either way although my son seemed eager to investigate! But this is precisely the appeal of Dunsandle Castle. Nothing is compromised. All is respected.

The Ice House is another must see and again, its function is not clear. Oyster shells were discovered when work began on the restoration and one guess, is that the ice was necessary to transport the shell fish out from Galway.

Dunsandle Castle left me with a sense of wonder. It is definitely worth a visit. My son and I came away with many questions that may never be answered. After spending three hours lost in history we reluctantly joined the N6 Highway to drive the short distance back to Galway City. Our heads were still in another time, the one we had left behind. My son told me that he had learned far more than any History lesson in school. Such was his enthusiasm that he announced that he wanted to write about it. I impressed on him to do just that because we can't forget the past. After all, it's where we come from and ironically, where we are heading.
Written October 6, 2009
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
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