Portrane Castle

Portrane Castle is a medieval tower house located in on Portrance on the Donabate Portrane peninsula in North County Dublin. The remains of the Tower house is now situated in a cultivated field on the edge of the village of Portrane. The remains of St Catherine's a medieval church are nearby.

Tower houses came into existence by the early fifteenth century, when a 1429 statute allowed the counties of the Pale to grant £10 to land owners towards their construction. The Tower House at Portrane could be one of these early Tower Houses as its dimensions are quite small. The castle continued in use into the mid 19th century as shown in an 1863 engraving. Whilst no trace of enclosing bawn walls associated with the castle survive today, this engraving does show a wall on one side of the castle.

The tower house at Portrane portrays many of the charactistic features of this monument type. The main entrance is on the north facing side of the house, protected by a murder hole above. The ground floor is covered by a barrel vault now partly collapsed at the southern end of the ground floor. Many of the medieval slit windows remain as does the original spiral staircase in the north east corner of the castle. The interior of the castle whilst overgrown with trees and ivy has largely survived as described by Dix in the Irish Builder in the late 19th century

"The lower walls are about 3.5 feet thick. The internal measurements of the chamber on the ground floor is about 16.5 feet by 12 feet and in it are two curious recesses in opposite walls. One of these contains an extremely narrow loophole 2ft by 3 inches splayed both ways and on the inside a stone bench constructed in the wall, possible a seat for a watchman or soldier. On the first floor which is intact there is a large fireplace 6 ft wide and 2 ft deep the jambs of which are in fine preservation. The old chiminey flue is also preserved. By its side runs a chimney of later construction and overtopping the battlements though it is more modern in appearance and is hidden under a close covering of ivy. The whole ruin bears evidence of modern occupation and partial restoration for that purpose. There are a very large number of recesses and openings in the walls three of which have pointed heads and resemble the figure of a pentagon. The small turret at the north east corner which rises some feet above the battlements was probably used as a watch tower. It measures 5.5 ft by 4 ft and there are the remains in it of a stone bench. There is also a neatly constructed gutter in one corner."


  • Donnelly, C.J. 1996. Frowning Ruins: The Tower Houses of Medieval Ireland. History Ireland, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 11-16
  • Bates, P. 2001. Donabate & Portraine A History. Dublin
  • McC. Dix, E.R. 1897. 'The lesser castles of Co. Dublin, The Irish Builder, Vol. 1, xxxix.

Portrane Castle Ground Floor Portrane Castle First Floor Possible fire place Portrane Castle Murder hole Portrane Castle
Overgrown first floor Portrane Castle Entrance to Staircase Portrane Castle Spiral Staircase Portrane Castle Slit window spiral staircase Portrane Castle
Slit window interior Portrane Castle View of Second floor level remains Portrane Castle View of Second floor level remains Portrane Castle Added brick chiminey Portrane Castle
View of ruined interior Portrane Castle Crenellations Portrane Castle Crenellations Portrane Castle Upper watch tower Portrane Castle
View west from Portrane Castle roof View east towards Lambay from Portrane Castle roof View of St Catherine' Church from Portrane Castle roof View north over the Burrow from Portrane Castle roof
The roof of the castle gives commanding views of the surrounding landscape

Site Location

  • SMR Number: DU008-030
  • Class: Castle - Tower House
  • National Grid Reference (E,N): 325169, 251099
  • Townland(s): PORTRAINE
  • (www.archaeology.ie)

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Last Updated ,Mar 2015  
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