Stepping Back in Time: A Visit to Swords Castle
I grew up reading ‘The Hobbit’, watching ‘The Neverending Story’ on VHS and collecting anything involving Robin Hood. If one of my favourite books had suddenly transported me into the past to go on a quest or have an adventure, I would have been delighted (and then probably terrified). At that age, walking around the […]
I grew up reading ‘The Hobbit’, watching ‘The Neverending Story’ on VHS and collecting anything involving Robin Hood. If one of my favourite books had suddenly transported me into the past to go on a quest or have an adventure, I would have been delighted (and then probably terrified).
At that age, walking around the partially-restored Swords Castle was as close to exploring the past as I could get. I would walk around the ramparts and squint my eyes trying to imagine what the castle would have looked like in mediaeval times. The old entrance was through a small metal-embossed wooden gate in the side wall of the castle and there was always an air of suspense as to whether or not it would be open when I passed by.
In the early 2000′s there was a Viking re-enactment festival held in the castle. There were people in costumes, coin-making, blacksmithing and archery which I embraced wholeheartedly, spending the day wandering around in happy awe at seeing the castle in some semblance of its former glory.
Over the past decade, I had been aware that a huge restoration project was underway which caused the castle to be closed to visitors and, in passing, I often wondered what it would look like when the restorations were complete. There were tanatalising glimpses of the new Chapel over the restored battlements but it remained closed.
Last week I passed the castle and realised it was now open once again to visitors. I walked under the arch of the main gate, which had not been accessible for years. Once I entered the newly restored Chapel – which I had last seen as a pile of stones in the corner of the courtyard – my childhood wish for transportation into the past was granted.
Obviously, the beauty of the newly restored Castle can best be enjoyed by visiting in person but alternatively, here are some photos. These show (1) the outside of The Constable’s Tower, (2) the lighting sconces with carved animal heads, (3) a tiny metal dragon hiding near the fireplace, (4) the restored Chapel, (5) the Chapel ceiling with its vaulted wooden roof, and (6) the restored Altar tiles (made using a traditional process based on fragments found in the Castle).
Further information on the history and preservation of Swords Castle can be found using the links below-
By Aileen Gallagher, Fingal Libraries