Trim Castle is the largest Norman castle in Ireland covering an area of 30,000 m2. The castle was built by Hugh de Lacy in the early 1170's. The site of the castle was chosen because it is on raised ground overlooking an ancient fording point on the River Boyne. The fording point gave the castle its name - Ath Troim ('the ford of the elders').
Hugh de Lacy was a descendant of Walter de Lacy who invaded England with William the Conqueror. Henry II of England trusted de Lacy and granted him lands in Ireland, including extensive lands around Trim, and made him Viceroy of Ireland. The first castle was destroyed by the Irish shortly after De Lacy took possession of it and he immediately started rebuilding it in 1173.
The castle took 30 years to construct and it was actually finished by Hugh's son Walter de Lacy around 1204. The massive stone keep was built in the shape of a Greek Cross with no fewer than 20 corners. It is thought that the castle keep was constructed in two phases. The first two stories were built around 1200-1210 with the second being completed in the 1220s.
There are still signs of the first roof, but you can easily see the two phases in the windows. The first phase windows were rounded at the top, while the second phase windows are square. The main keep was extensively protected with a ditch, curtain walls and a moat.
Trim Castle became an important centre of administration for the area around Meath, as well as an important ecclesiastical and royal site. During the 15th Century the Irish Parliament met in the castle seven times and it also operated as a mint.
The castle declined in importance during the 16th and 17th Centuries, although it was still an important enough military site to be refortified during the Cromwellian Wars in the 1640s.
After the 1680's the castle was held for a time by the Duke of Wellington, and then by the Leslie family, before eventually coming into the possession of Lord Dunsany. The castle and its grounds were used for a variety of purposes, with part of the castle field even being used by the town council as a municipal dump for some years.
In modern times Trim castle has appeared in a couple of films including "The Big Red One" by Sam Fuller and Mel Gibson's "Braveheart" where the castle was transformed into the fortified English city of York.
Lord Dunsany sold the castle to the Government of Ireland in 1993. The Office of Public Works undertook a major programme of conservation and archaeological work and they partially restored the moat and built a protective roof.
The castle was opened to the public in 2000 and the grounds fully open to the public for a small fee. The keep is in a ruined state and for safety reasons access is by guided tour only. The site has display panels and reconstruction drawings and car parking and toilets are available.
Owner: Government of Ireland
Tel: +353 46 943 8619 / +353 46 9438964
Opening Times: 10am to 6pm daily Easter to October then weekends only November to Easter
Trim Castle at sunrise
Trim Castle and the River Boyne