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Local Studies Department

Groses's Antiquities of Ireland: - County Kildare in the 1790's

CASTLEDERMOT CHURCH AND ROUND TOWER.

 

WHEREVER we meet a round tower, we may be assured an ecclesiastical foundation existed there antecedent to the arrival of the English. Tradition says, St. Diermit had a Church, or rather a monastic Cell here in the year 500: his festival is celebrated, as the patron, the 21st of June. The place was at first called Diseart Diarmuda; and after, for many years, Tristledermot. Here Cormac Mac Cuillenan received his education, and was here interred in 938. About this time, it is probable, the Round Tower was erected, and some ages after the old Church. Tradition reports, that one of the stone crosses in the cemetery was coeval with the Tower.
Castledermot Church And Round Tower - CLICK TO ENLARGE ON the arrival of the English, Henry II. granted O'Morthy, or O'More's country, the district in which Castle Dermot stands, to Walter Riddlesford, who built a castle there from which the town takes its name. And in the reign of King John, the said proprietor founded a Priory for crouched friars, which, at the dissolution, was given to Richard Keating. In 1264, Richard de Rupella, Lord Justice of Ireland, Lords Theobald Botiller and John Cogan, were taken prisoners by the Fitz Geralds of Tristledermot, which shews at once the weakness of Government and the power of this family at that period. In 1302 a Monastery for Conventua1 Franciscans was founded in this town by Lord Ophaley; in fourteen years after it was destroyed by Bruce and his Scots, who carried away its books, vestments, and other sacred ornaments and utensils; but this sacrilege was revenged by their defeat soon after. On the 26th of' August 1499, a Parliament was held here, when an act was made for the nobility to use saddles: however, the natives retained their old custom of riding without them, nor two hundred years after did they lay aside their old practice.
ON the construction of the Castle and Monasteries, Castledermot became a market town, and is supposed to have been surrounded with a wall, but no traces are now to be seen. The only ruins are those of the Castle, Franciscan Friary, Round Tower, and Church.
THIS View was taken by lieutenant Daniel Grose, anno 1792.

(pp. 43-44, Vol. II; accompanying Plate entitled 'Church and Tower at Castledermot, Co. Kildare').