[The following passage comes from an article in the September 1878 issue of the The Graphic. — George P. Landow]

It was John the “Landless,” son of Henry II., who first conceived the need of a Castle for the City of Dublin. To use his own words, “It was to be raised in a competent place, as well to curb the city as to defend it.”

The fastness, for such it was, though commenced in 1205, was not completed until fifteen years afterwards, when the Royal founder had been dead four years. The fortress had its dungeons, drawbridge, prison, treasury, and a mill, for the convenience of the garrison. State records tell us that a judicial combat by the sword has been fought within the walls of the Castle, and in presence of the Archbishop and Justices. From lime to time Parliaments and Courts of Law were held here, and, more or less, the Castle has always been the depository of the archives of the city. It was not until Queen Elizabeth's reign it became a Viceregal residence.

“The competent place," selected by King John's deputy, Meyler Fitz-Henry, for the site of the fortress, was on the brow of a hill, at the south side of the river, and in the centre of the diminutive capital of those days. The Castle, as it now stands, no doubt, retains much of the form of King John’s design, but the greater portion of the edifice has been renewed and enlarged, the latest addition being the Chapel Royal, on exceedingly tasteful Gothic building, completed in 1814. Partaking as they do of the character of a citadel, various portions of which have been added at different epochs, the Castle buildings present an unsymmetrical and gloomy aspect.

Once within the splendid marble vestibule, or the painted and gilded portions of the Castle, however, the mind is no longer weighted with the solemn memories suggested by the towers and bastions without. The more magnificent chambers of the interior are a Council Hall, hung round with portraits of all the Lord Lieutenants since 1798, and St. Patrick’s Hall, built by Lord Chesterfield — that Lord Lieutenant, whose creed, in the pleasant but wrong old times, was that there was no sin except “a breach of good manners.” It is in this gorgeous apartment that the levées and drawing-rooms and balls are held, including that last fête of the Dublin season, St. Patrick’s Ball, at which the ladies are bound by Viceregal law to attire themselves in costumes of Irish manufacture.

It would be almost impossible to say to how many uses parts of the Castle lend themselves in the present day. In one of the halls the degrees of the Queen’s University are annually conferred. In other sections all the principal Government departments are located. So mixed is everything in Ireland of the serious and the gay, that outside of these official quarters a motley group of careless lads and lasses, inspired by the cheerful music of the military bands, collect each morning and witness the ceremony of the troops relieving guard.

In the Upper Castle Yard is situated the famous Birmingham Tower, formerly used as a prison for State criminals, and from whence many a poor sinner has been led to execution. The most noted structures in the Lower Castle Yard are the Chapel, the Bedford Tower, which is the official residence of the Dean, and the Record Tower, in which are deposited the archives of Ireland. Ulster King-of-Arms, Sir Bernard Burke, C.B.— whose splendid literary achievements in developing the heraldry of Ireland have won for him a patriot's fame and an European reputation — resides here, and is the honoured guardian of these genealogical treasures.


“Dublin Illustrated.” The Graphic (17 August 1878): 169-81. Internet Archive online version of a copy in the University of Illinois Library. Web. 14 August 2018.

Last modified 14 August 2018