How lucky we are to have the impressive ruins of this once great castle sitting right in the heart of Maynooth town.
The keep was built around 1203 and was home to the mighty Fitzgerald clan, once the most powerful family in Ireland. Gearoid Og Fitzgerald was Lord Deputy of Ireland in the time of King Henry VIII. His son, Silken Thomas, led an uprising against the English when he mistakenly thought that his father had been executed by the king (he had died of natural causes while on a trip to London). The rebellion was quashed by William Skeffington and Thomas and his uncles were brought to London where they were exectued. It is thought that Maynooth Castle was betrayed by Christopher Paris, Thomas’s foster brother.
Skeffington thanked Paris for his services and promptly rewarded him by having him beheaded, possibly because he knew he couldn’t be trusted. This was not the end of the Geraldine family however; the 12 year old heir, George, was taken into the guardianship of the scientist Robert Boyle. The castle suffered attacks and was besieged during the Catholic Confederacy wars of the 1640s, and eventually the family moved to nearby Carton House.
Source: Ireland’s Ancient East: A Guide to its Historic Treasures, Neil Jackman