One of the prominent architectural features of old Ireland were the tower houses that emerged in the country around the seventeenth century and which served as the nucleus for the so-called unfortified country seats. Although many of these houses remain occupied up to today, the Athlumney now lies in ruins. Located at the east bank of the Boyne, it used to be a mid 15th century tower house that was built by the Dowdall family. The house was enlarged significantly in 1630. A narrow mullion-windowed gabled mansion was added to the property. The house has four storeys with an attic, latrines as well as small chambers. At the first floor’s south wall is a secret mural chamber that reached down narrow stairs. This was supposedly constructed to hid priests because the Dowdalls remained devout Catholics. The interiors of the house were said to be very magnificent. In 1649, the mansion was burnt by its occupants, the Maguire Family as a way to thwart Oliver Cromwell – who was attacking Drogheda. In 1690, the place was again set alight by Sir Lancelot Dowdall, its last occupant. He decided to torch his home upon learning that James II was defeated in battle. Refusing to let the castle fall into the hands of William of Orange, the victor, he decided to just destroy it. But despite these attempts at arson, the castle has remarkably stood the test of time, visitors can visit what remains of the interior of this grand castle. Other highlights of the area are the ruins of a14th century manorial church that boasts of a triple belfry. Also located in the vicinity of the castle is a motte and bailey. Athlumney Castle, as well as other memorable tourist destinations, are easily accessible through a car trip. Car travel in Ireland is the best option for tourists who want to see the most of these landmarks without being part of commercialized tours. Car rentals are no problem because of the many car hire companies that offer competitive packages to travellers.
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