The original Black Castle, located in the pretty village of Leighlinbridge, County Carlow, was once one of the finest Norman fortresses in Ireland. Also intact is a Valerian stone bridge, believed to be one of the oldest functioning bridges in Europe. Standing at the side of this bridge on the village's main street, and overlooking the River Barrow, all that remains of the Black Castle today is the west half of a 14th century tower, along with part of the bawn.
Leighlinbridge castle was constructed in 1181 by Hugh de Lacy, a Norman baron who governed Ireland on behalf of Henry II, to defend the Barrow river crossing.
- De Lacy granted the castle to another English baron of Norman descent, John de Claville
- During the 14th century the castle was taken by the Kavanagh clan, who reclaimed most of their land in the area
- For 150 years, the Kavanaghs charged English lords "black rent" for peaceful passage over the river, onto the main road through Leinster
- The castle was rebuilt by Sir Edward Bellingham in 1547
- It was finally destroyed by Cromwell's forces in 1650 during his invasion of Ireland
Leighlinbridge Castle. Image: Kman999