Republic of Ireland
Trim Castle is a mighty fortress that stands on the banks of the River Boyne in County Meath and is Ireland's largest Anglo-Norman stronghold. In 1172, King Henry II granted the lands of Meath to Hugh de Lacy in an attempt to curb the expansionist policies of Richard de Clare (1130-1176), a lord also known as `Strongbow`, who had played a leading role in the Norman invasion of Ireland.
In medieval times the Boyne could be forded here and boats could sail upriver from the Irish Sea twenty-five miles away which made the location strategically important, emphasised by the fact that the site was originally guarded by an early wooden fortress. It took de Lacy, followed by his son Walter, a total of thirty years to complete the massive stone stronghold with its twenty-sided keep, which was protected by a ditch, curtain wall and moat. Further improvements and alterations were made at the end of the 13th century and beginning of the 14th century.
Although Trim Castle was once an important administration centre used as a regular meeting place for the Irish parliament, its defences were neglected until Oliver Cromwell`s invasion in the mid-17th century when the stronghold was hurriedly refortified.
The ownership of Trim Castle passed between various families (including that of Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington) over the years until 1993 when it was acquired by the State. In more recent times Trim Castle`s claim to fame was that it doubled for York Castle in Mel Gibson`s 1995 Oscar-winning movie Braveheart.
Across the river from the castle is the Yellow Steeple (above left), the belfry of St Mary`s Abbey which was destroyed by Cromwell`s forces in 1642. Nearby is the Sheep Gate (below), the only remaining section of Trim`s 14th Century town walls.
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