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Dunlough Castle 'a real life Helm's Deep'

Dunlough castle (castle no.996 on the Castles of Ireland Map) has to be the one of the most remote castles in Ireland. It is literally hidden away at the northern tip of Mizen peninsula in the far southwest of Ireland. It is far from the nearest road and can only be accessed by a single trail.

Dunlough Castle was built by the O'Mahony Clan over 800 years ago. The O'Mahony Clan appears to have been in decline by the time it was built having come under presure from the dominant McCarthy Clan. Given its isolation and defensive nature it is easy to think that the casle acted as a final refuge place. It acted most likely as a real life 'Helm's' Deep' the castle where the people of Rohan retreated to as a final refuge in J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. There are castle walls at either end of the Lough. On the westerly edge there are 3 towers and at this end the wall ends abrutly with a steep cliff face, at the easterly end of the lough the wall cuts across rugged mountain terrain. 

The castle is in a state of ruin partly as a result of it being a dry stone wall castle (no motar). The three towers of Dunlough castleThere is no historical evidence that the castle was ever attacked it therefore appears to have served its purpose as a place of refuge well particularly during the turbulent years of the 15th and 16th Century during the English reconquest. The state of ruin unfortunatley appears to be a result of human activity, what tends to happen is that the stone from the castle is recycled and used to built local houses and new boundary walls.

English Origenes

Scottish Origenes