Located at the end of the main street of the North County Dublin suburb of Swords, this medieval castle was the residence of the archbishops of Dublin. Today its park extends over 220 acres, boasting picnic areas, pleasant tree-lined walkways, a babbling brook, a public playground, sports pitches and both public and private tennis courts. Recently restored (the walls, not the interior rooms), admission to Swords Castle and the adjoining park is FREE.
At the far end of the park (a couple of minutes walk away from the castle), there is a quite small but modern playground with soft surfaces. Features include
- Toddler swings
- A slide and climbing frames
- A climbing net that twirls
- A basket swing
Erected in the 12th century by the third archbishop of Dublin, John Cumin, the Castle was the home of Dublin's archbishops. Swords Castle was vacated in 1324 by archbishop Alexander de Bicknor, who built a new palace for himself at Tallaght, in southwest county Dublin. The castle was added to on and off over the centuries. In 1583, English Viceroy Sir Henry Sydney described the building as a quite spoiled old castle. He brought a colony of weavers from Holland and put them work on the castle. Sir Sydney believe the Dutch workers would “show some example of industry to the lazy natives”. The Dutch settlers repaired and extended some of the buildings. In 1985, when Dublin City Council purchased Swords Castle from its then owners, the Cobbe family, it had been a derelict ruin for many years.
Swords Castle has two unusual features: its perimeter wall is much larger than that of other Irish castles, and the buildings that compose it form a pentagon. The following feature can be seen (but not entered, as they have not been restored)
- A chapel
- A gatehouse
- Two large towers
- Knights' dwellings
- A banqueting hall
- The Archbishop's apartments
Admission and Opening Times
Admission to the park is FREE. The park opens at 9am each day, until 5pm in winter months, and longer in other months as daylight allows. See the official site below for more precise times. The interior of the castle is normally closed, but tours of the interior may be arranged by request, depending on availability, by calling (01) 890 5600.
Swords Castle. Image by William Murphy