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Heritage Ireland

Rock of Dunamase

The seat of ancient Irish Kings

Unguided sites

Dunamase, Aghnahily
Laois

Access available during daylight hours

Rock of Dunamase

The seat of ancient Irish Kings

Unguided sites

Dunamase, Aghnahily
Laois

Access available during daylight hours

Restrictions

  • Appropriate footwear

Notice

Rock of Dunamase is a state-owned free National Monument in the care of the Office of Public Works

*Currently there is space for 8 cars to park beside the entrance to the monument* Please take extreme care in this area as it is not safe to stand on the road taking into account passing cars*

Rock of Dunamase

The name Dunamase originates from the Irish Dún Másc, meaning the Fort of Masc. It was once the fort of the Irish Kings of Laois. In 845 the dún was attacked by Vikings, however Dunamase became one of the most important Anglo-Norman fortifications in Ireland.

In 1170, when Aoife, daughter of the King of Leinster Diarmuid Mac Murrough, married Strongbow, Dunamase was part of Aoife’s dowry. The same occurred when their daughter, Isabel, married the Earl of Pembroke, William Marshal.

In 1320, Dunamase was attacked by local Gaelic forces, and appears to have been abandoned in the second half of the 14th century. It was reused in the 1640s during the Irish Confederate Wars, but was hugely destroyed in 1650 during a Cromwellian invasion.

Archaeological excavations were carried out in the mid-1990s, where over 5,500 objects were recovered. Conservation works on the masonry structures were also undertaken after the excavations. Read Martin Luby’s article for more details on this work: https://heritageireland.ie/articles/conservation-project-at-the-rock-of-dunamase/

Protect our Past - Click here to read about the importance of protecting our country’s unique heritage sites

This national monument is protected in accordance with the National Monuments Acts 1930 to 2014

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