Historical Timeline

1169:Norman invasion of Ireland begins.
1175:Normans and their Irish allies take the city of Limerick.
1176: (circa)Normans erect ‘ringwork-type enclosure’ in the city.1 Limerick Castle (‘King John’s’) strengthened and fortified (1210-12) under King John of England.
1180-1300: (circa)Manorial castles built at places such as Adare, Newcastle (West), Castle Connell, (Castletown) Coonagh and at Carrigogunnell.
1400: (circa)Building commences of numerous castles around the county, later termed, ‘tower houses’.2
1583:Desmond rebellion ends. County Limerick in the thick of the fighting, many castles attacked and damaged by both Desmond and crown forces.
1584-90:Munster Plantation: numerous castles and estates in Limerick belonging to the late earl of Desmond (and his allies), are seized by Elizabeth I and granted to English planters, known as ‘undertakers’.
1594-1603:Nine Years War: many old Desmond castles, such as Lough Gur, at the centre of fighting between Irish and crown forces.
1641-53:Confederate Catholic war and subsequent Cromwellian invasion: Limerick again in the thick of the fighting, and many castles are damaged or destroyed.
Strategically important manorial castles, such as Adare, are dismantled by Cromwell’s army.
1654-58:Catholic castles and lands seized and granted to Irish and British Protestants under the Cromwellian plantation.
1660:Restoration of Charles II. The king restores castles and (partial) lands to some displaced Irish, such as Lord Burke of Castle Connell, who had fought for, and served the exiled prince, while on the continent.
1690:Williamite War: first siege of Limerick Castle by Dutch prince, William of Orange, is repulsed by Irish forces and their allies.
1691:Limerick Castle besieged a second time and taken by Williamite forces under General de Ginkell. Carrigogunnell Castle reduced to a ruin by the Williamites.
1700: (onwards)Decline of castles as main dwellings. They are soon replaced by the ‘Great House’ of the Protestant Ascendancy.


Ken Wiggins, Anatomy of a siege: King John’s Castle, Limerick, 1642 (2001), 16.
2 The term ‘tower house’ was first used to describe these castellated strongholds in the late 1850s by antiquarian J.H. Parker.


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