The Rock of Dunamase Castle

After the Jameson Whiskey tour in Dublin, Nicole and I headed to the Rock of Dunamase (also referred as the Dunamase Castle). The drive took us roughly 1.5 hours, give or take. We avoided the toll leaving Dublin, which was awesome because we are budget travelers. We plugged in the longitude and latitude in our GPS and we were all set.

Rock of Dunamase

Rock of Dunamase Castle

To find the Rock of Dunamase, because it doesn’t have a specific address (that I was able to find online), you can use the exact GPS coordinates (longitude and latitute) listed below, or you can search by name using the city/state/county feature. You would look for Dunamase, Co. Laois.

Rock of Dunamase
Near N80 between Portlaoise and Stradbally
County Laois, Ireland
Longitude: 7° 12′ 35.66″ W
Latitude: 53° 1′ 54.8″ N
The Dunamase Castle sits 3.7 miles (or six kilometers) from the town of Portlaoise and one kilometer north of the N80 Portlaoise to Stradbally Road. I’d recommend using a GPS, not a map, as the roads are very narrow and winding with no signs directing us to the actual location of the Rock of Dunamase. Our GPS kept saying “unknown road.”

If you know an easier way to reach the Dunamase Castle, I’d love to know! We took the scenic route, so there may be an exit from the interstate that I’m unaware of!

The drive up to the Rock of Dunamase was gorgeous, and the view breathtaking. The road was incredibly narrow – I don’t know what would have happened if we had run into another car going the opposite way. Both sides of the road were covered with lush, green hedge that appeared to be well-groomed.

Road to Dunamase Castle Ruins

This ancient castle sits up high on a hill. You can spot it easily as you’re driving up. So if you happen to get lost, just follow the sight of the castle ruins and go that way!

Visiting the Rock of Dunamase

Dunamase Castle Ruins

The Rock of Dunamase Castle is one of the most famous landmarks in Ireland, at least it was to me. I had only seen the Rock of Dunamase and the Cliffs of Moher in films, and they were the only Irish scenery that I knew. Perhaps I am naive, but I did not know much about Ireland before going on this trip.

The Rock of Dunamase was a medieval fortress, built of stone upon stone, atop a flat-topped hill that looks out over the entire northern county Laois. It’s simply a breathtaking view at the top.

The first photo almost looks like a railroad set for children; almost unreal, but that’s the view you get at the top of the hill.

View from the top of the Rock of Dunamase Castle

Dunamase Castle Ruin View from Top

Here’s Nicole walking down the hill. Look a the view behind her. It is way pretty.

The Rock of Dunamase Castle

The origins of the Rock of Dunamase go back to early medieval times. One of the first mentions of the fortress occurred in 844 when the Vikings attacked it. It was later owned by the Lordship of Laois, and then later to Roger Mortimer, the Earl of March. After Mortimer was executed for treason in 1330, there are no other historical references of Dunamase. No one quite knows what happened to the castle and why it was abandoned. But whatever the reason, this fortress was interesting to explore.

You can see where the sturdy walls used to be. Sitting on top of a hill, this was a mighty defense stronghold. I can only image how magnificent it was in its day.

Side of the Rock of Dunamase

The Rock of Dunamase

How wonderful would it be to be a child and explore these ancient ruins? I love it as an adult, but the town children would have a blast crawling all over these rocks, playing hide and seek.

This part of the wall looks like a person smiling!

Dunamase Castle Ruins

This medieval stronghold is amazingly build. Stone upon stone, I imagine it was years and years, and blood and sweat that put this amazing fortress together.

Dunamase Castle Wall

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My favorite period in history is the medieval era, and just gazing upon the Rock of Dunamase truly was fantastic. Look at this gorgeous castle wall and the rock that used to be part of it.

Dunamase Castle Ruins

This used to be stairs leading somewhere…

Stairs at the Rock of Dunamase

I imagine this used to be one of the many windows the guards and soldiers used to gaze out upon their hill while on their scheduled watch.

Castle of Dunamase Window

Here’s a smaller window that you could peek from. I doubt the enemy could spot you from here.

Rock of Dunamase Window

Interestingly, all the windows at the Dunamase Castle had rock ledges where you could sit and gaze out. It offered a comfortable way to guard, I bet. Who wants to stand guard for hours and hours?

This is my favorite view out …

View from Dunamase Castle Hill

It was a very windy day with scattered rain showers when we visited the Dunamase Castle ruins. Actually, it was freezing! The temperature itself wasn’t bad, in the 40s Farhenheit in February, but the wind chill made my teeth chatter. See how it has blown Nicole’s hair all about.

Nicole at the Rock of Dunamase

My hair doesn’t normally look this full and fluffy, but it was the wind! The wind styled my hair!

Crazy Wind Ireland February Weather

My eyes are closed in this photo but you can see the crazy wind flipping my hair all about.

me at the Rock of Dunamase castle

I was very bundled up and yet the wind still tossed me about. At times, it was hard to keep my footing as I was going up and down the hill. Pay attention to how the grass is blowing! It was a windy, windy day!

Blow in the Wind

The Rock of Dunamase Castle also made the perfect backdrop for some beautiful headshots of Nicole and me.

Nicole at Dunamase Castle

DoanPhuong Nguyen black and white photo

There is a small parking lot across from the Rock of Dunamase, in front of a small church – Holy Trinity, the Rock, Church of Ireland, attached to a small graveyard. Both the building and the graveyard are interesting and beautiful to admire.

Holy Trinity, the Rock, Church of Ireland

Holy Trinity, the Rock, Church of Ireland, Graveyard

I hope that one day that you will be able to visit the Rock of Dunamase yourself. It is quite a sight and you should not leave Ireland without seeing it!

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