Castle Roche

This little known castle is among the most spectacular in Ireland, crowning a rocky outcrop in the hills north-west of Dundalk, Co. Louth. It was the seat of the De Verdon family, who had first come to Ireland on John's expedition of 1185. Castle Roche or as it is known in the old records "Castlellum de Rupe" or de la Roche -The Castle of the rocks. The stately majestic ruins of Roche castle are still in fine preserve. It was formerly a frontier castle of the English pale. Nicholas de Verdon (who died in 1316) was in charge during the Bruce Invasion (Edward Bruce, brother of Robert Bruce).The Manor of Roche evidently suffered badly during this time for in 1316-17 it was reported that no profit could be received from the land and by 1332 the castle itself was lying burnt at the hand of the Irish. Later the Norman family Bellew took possession of the castle. A hosting of all English forces in Ireland took place here in 1561. St Oliver Plunkett, whose head can be seen in the church in Drogheda, visited the castle and it was finally laid to ruin by Oliver Cromwell in 1641.

A story about its building still survives to this very day. Roesha De Verdon was married to Theobald "le Butzzllen" Le Boteler. They lived between Staffordshire, England and Ireland. Unfortunately, in 1230, Theobald died in Poitou, France. roesha returned to Ireland and decided to fortify her castle in Roche. However she had difficulty in finding a person to build it for her. She had a reknowned bad temper so many were afraid to work for her in case they displeased her in some way. Finally, she decided to offer her own hand in marriage to the man who would build her castle. She was neither young nor pretty but she was wealthy and powerful and so a number of ambitious men came forward. She eventually decided on one who promptly set about building the magnificant Roche Castle for her. When the building was complete, true to her word she married the architect. The banquet was held in Roche. When the festivities were over she called her new husband and asked him to accompany her to the marriage quarters. Off they went and on reaching the room she made her way over to the large window over looking all her lands. She bade him observe his new found wealth. He went to the window very pleased with himself. But as he looked out she promptly pushed him to his death on the rocks below. To this very day his ghost can be seen in the window. Strangely the window is blocked up from the inside.

Roche from the North East

Roche from the South

Roche from the East

Roche from the South West

Roche from the South East

South wall of Banquet Hall

Southern rock face

Banquet Hall

Entrance

Interior

Behind the bastions

Pride of our Place Project

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