Trim Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Trim Castle

County Meath, Ireland

Image Credit: Ungor / Shutterstock

About Trim Castle

Trim Castle is Ireland’s largest Anglo-Norman castle, located in County Meath. It is best known for its appearance in the film Braveheart, where it represented the walled city of York.

History of Trim Castle

As with so many castles in Ireland, the land was granted by King Henry II to his loyal supporters – in this case, Hugh de Lacy. De Lacy quickly built a traditional ringwork castle: the area was strategically important, as it was on raised ground and overlooked the River Boyne – about 25 miles inland. It bordered the edge of the Pale, the area on Ireland’s central east coast which remained firmly under Anglo-Norman control. Being on the far fringes made Trim vulnerable to attack by Irish chieftains, as well as extremely important for the English.

Shortly after de Lacy left Ireland, entrusting the castle and lands to one of his chief lieutenants, the last High King of Ireland, Ruaidrí Ua Canannáin, destroyed it.

Most of the existing structures were completed between 1200 and 1220, by Hugh de Lacy’s son, Walter, who succeeded him as Lord of Meath. There’s a traditional moat, ditch and 450m long, very thick outer curtain wall to protect the castle. Built to be all-but impregnable, Trim Castle survived as a stronghold until the 17th century, when it gradually began to fall into decline.

Sometimes nicknamed King John’s Castle, several English monarchs stayed at Trim Castle when they visited Ireland, including Richard II, John, and the future Henry V was imprisoned here as a prince. The Irish Parliament also met here throughout the 15th century, and a mint operated at the castle.

Despite a period of neglect, it was refortified during the Irish Confederate Wars (1640s), and captured by Cromwell’s army following the Siege of Drogheda in 1549. Eventually, ownership of the castle was handed to the Wellesley family: it changed hands several more times, serving a wide variety of purposes, before being sold to the Irish state in 1993 by the then owners, Lord Dunsany. After major restoration work (costing upward of €4,5 million), it was opened to the public in 2000.

Trim Castle today

Trim Castle is managed by the Office of Public Works today: you’re free to explore the grounds and ruins of the castle at your leisure (although there is a small cost for admission): if you want to explore the magnificent keep, you’ll need to book on to a guided tour. The keep is only accessible via a steep set of stairs, so keep a very close eye on small children and do consider your level of mobility.

Once inside, you’ll marvel at how thick the walls of the keep once were: although partially ruined, the site is nonetheless remarkable at showing exactly how fortified Norman castles were. Look out for boards in the town if you’re a Braveheart fan, which details Mel Gibson’s Braveheart film crew descending on the town of Trim for several months.

Getting to Trim Castle

The castle is located in the heart of the town of Trim, in County Meath. It takes just under an hour to drive from Dublin city centre: take the M3 and turn off at Junction 6, onto the R125 and then R154 to Meath. Bus 111 leaves Dublin’s Busaras towards Athboy, and stops in Meath – it’s then about a 10 minute walk to the castle.

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